Written by Franz Hofer

Bruges is Brussels’ alter ego. Swans floating languidly on canals, quiet cobblestone lanes, and magnificent Flemish architecture add up to a far cry from the gritty bustle of Brussels. But in things beer, the two cities are equals. Bruges boasts a few breweries and dozens of beer cafes, some of them world-class establishments like the ethereal Vlissinghe and the classy De Garre.

Aside from the buzz of conversation, one of the first things you’ll notice when you step inside the Beertje is the myriad glasses hanging above the bar like a forest of stalactites, a sure sign that the place takes the art of beer presentation seriously.

What started as a hundred-strong beer list when the “Little Bear” opened its doors in 1983 quickly evolved into a veritable compendium of beers some three hundred strong — one of the most well-rounded lists in Belgium. The selection runs the gamut from Belgian standards to plucky brewers who have taken a page out of the craft beer playbook.

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