Home > Beer > Beer In Bruges: De Garre and Tripel De Garre

Beer In Bruges: De Garre and Tripel De Garre

I’m writing this post coming back though the Channel Tunnel following a fantastic four days in Bruges. Kate booked the trip as my 31st birthday present and apart from her I should also thank the authors of the blog posts and twitter recommendations I read before I went, including Phil Hardy of Beersay, Jose from Beer Nerds, Rich from The Beercast, Boak & Bailey, Simon Jenkins and Mark Fletcher of Real Ale Reviews.

One of the common factors of most of those recommendations was De Garre, a small two-storey brown cafe hidden down an alleyway off a short, busy and touristy street running between the central square Markt and another, Burg.

 

When we first arrived in Bruges and went for a walk into the centre it started pelting with rain, and fortunately we chose to seek shelter in De Garre. When we went in the bar was completely full but fortunately an elderly couple shortly left and gave us our seats, the gentleman blessing Kate on the way out, probably indicating how soaked we looked.

 

There is a substantial menu of Belgian beers but it’s obvious that most people come for the exclusive house beer brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge: Tripel De Garre. It is presented in a great-looking bulb glass on a tray with a paper doily (in keeping with the local lacemaking tradition) and a small bowl of slightly rubbery but creamy cheese cubes (Gouda?), possibly intended to combat the effects of the 11.5% ABV.

A blonde Tripel at 11.5% might sound like a terrible idea, but you’d be completely wrong. The beer is at once mellow and hoppy; refreshing and pleasantly warm and boozy; an impeccably well-rounded and accessible beer.

 

As we dried off in the simple cafe with yellow tablecloths and open windows as the rain pelted down on the irregular cobbles outside, it was impossible to feel anything but happy. We were surrounded by relaxed groups and couples, chatting in various languages including locals speaking the native Dutch, most of whom were all drinking the same beer.

 

We fell in love with De Garre to such an extent that we ended up returning to it at the end of the evening on the following two nights. The second time was just as enjoyable as the first, with a number of groups of various ages happily chatting away as classical music played in the background.

 

The third occasion, on the Monday night, was still enjoyable but not quite as relaxed, as one group of 25-30 year olds in the corner were watching very loud videos on their phones before another large group of foreign students, possibly from a nearby hostel, all arrived at once and took over most of the tables. Whilst they weren’t necessarily treating De Garre with the respect and reverence I felt it deserved, they were all drinking the house beer, which at least is an indication of how easily enjoyable it is.

My only real souvenir from Bruges is a statuesque 1.5 litre magnum of the house beer purchased from the bar for €21, which has made me thankful that Eurostar doesn’t have weight restrictions. There’s a poem on the back, an “Ode Aan De Tripel Van De Garre”. Certainly if any beer other than a pint of plain can inspire poetry, it’s this one. O, Tripel van de Garre.

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  1. August 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Nick, fantastic review mate and great pictures.
    Sitting reading it I could almost have been back there it brought back so many memories, in fact even in writing this I’m picturing that bar, the big round table near the door and the creaky old stairs up to the upper seating area.

    I’d love to hear what you think of the bottled version, I really regret not getting one now. I think at the time I thought it just might spoil that moment.

    The moment when the barman delivers it to your table, 90% froth and calmly whispers, “wait, it will come”.. and it does!

    Cheers Phil
    @filrd

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks Phil, and cheers for your help. I think I’ll be saving the bottle for a special occasion.

  2. August 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Yeah loved this post, had my first beer in a fairly long bar crawl here; so the memories are a little hazy but the pictures here bring them back! Look forward to reading more

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      Cheers Steve, it’s good writing about these places to remember them by.

  3. August 11, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Those beers look and sound fantastic – what a handsome glass and brilliant frothy head. I’m hoping to go to Bruges in October so will definitely try this.

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Oh, you really should. There are another few places I’ll write about over the next posts but this bar and this beer are absolute musts.

  4. August 11, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Great post and what an awesome bar! There’s a lot to be said for a really good, exclusive house beer. It’s something more bars should do in this country. The closest thing I’ve seen recently was the ‘Stew & Oyster’ Pale Ale in Calls landing, although im pretty sure that’ll just be a rebrand of another ossett brew.

    Nothing on par with this place of course. Imagine a bar which had a hugely flavoursome, strong yet drinkable house beer from one of the top breweries in the UK. If the beer was good enough it would surely attract a lot of attention.

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      The Reliance do a Reliance Best Bitter which I think is from Barnsley Brewery, but no I can’t think of a real standout that I would go to a pub especially for.

      • August 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm

        I meant Acorn Brewery, of course.

  5. August 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Glad you had a good time. Now start dropping hints about a trip to Bamberg for your 35th….

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      We were talking about other potential beery holidays actually: I’ll look into Bamberg! Thanks again.

  6. August 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

    That really brought it all back Nick, I echo everything you said – we too discovered de Garre at random and loved everything about it. When I think about Belgian beer, and drinking over there, it’s de Garre that comes to mind. The tripel is probably my favourite beer of all time – because of the surroundings and that little bit of mystery/spectacle. My only regret is that I didn’t realise you could buy bottles to take home (Ryanair be damned!)

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Cheers Rich – yeah, you would definitely go over your baggage allowance and then you’d have to leave it in the hands of baggage handlers!

  7. August 11, 2011 at 10:23 am

    P.s. I think £18 for a 1.5L magnum of top notch 11.5% beer is damned good value.

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      I certainly didn’t have any problem paying for it, it was more lugging the bastard home that was the problem!

  8. August 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Wonderful stuff mate – Kate does have a knack of picking great little trips!

    • August 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      I’m very lucky. She doesn’t even really like Belgian beers at all, although this trip persuaded her that there were some really good ones.

  9. kim
    November 10, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Spying on your blog as I am a huge lover of De Garre – nicknamed by us as ‘The best and worst beer in the world’ Best – because its amazing! Worst – because it tastes so good you just want more and more which isn’t so good for your head being a 10.5% beer.

    After a day of drinking various belgian beers we came across the little pub. I am not usually a beer drinker but after a pint of Tripel Garre I just craved another and another….it would have continued if the beer hadn’t gone to our heads. Just before we were leaving we noticed someone purchasing the magnum of beer…I HAD to have one!

    It somehow managed to make it home and somehow we never drank it until a couple of months later celebrating a mates 30th.

    The bottle definitely tastes good! 🙂 🙂 🙂 it brought back great memories but now makes me want to go back to bruges ASAP!

    Next time – must bring back more bottles!

  10. jeff mackie
    April 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I love De Garre having been there twice(USA) Where can I buy a De Garre glass?

  1. August 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm
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  6. January 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

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