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This is a photo taken in 't Brugs Beertje, Bruges, in Belgium.  Moinette Blonde is one of a number of magnificent beers brewed by Dupont, in Wallonia, the French-speaking half of Belgium. It is rare on draught, especially in Flanders.  Click on the photo to go to the brewery's excellent website

In the above photo, Daisy Claeys is serving the Brasserie Dupont's draught Moinette Blonde in 't Brugs Beertje, Bruges, Belgium. It was taken by John White, in December, 2001. This photo appears on page 189 of the 2005 edition of Tim Webb's award-winning, don't-enter-Belgium-without Good Beer Guide Belgium (, White Beer Travels Web page). Click here to see the page.



Speciality/Specialty/Craft Beer Bar of the Month: October

One of the World's Very Best:
't Brugs Beertje, Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

Kemelstraat 5. tel 050 33 96 16, (Bookmark),
GPS: 51.206848o N, 3.221707o E
This is a photo of the exterior of 't Brugs Beertje, a world-class Speciality Beer Bar in Bruges, in Belgium. Click on it to go to the place's website

This White Beer Travels "Pub of the Month" was selected by John White, of White Beer Travels. The photo of its exterior, to the left, was taken by John White, in February, 2003. Descriptions of places such as this are generally taken from Beer Guides that have been prepared for White Beer Travels Beer Hunts, all participants getting copies: they typically get well over 100 A4 pages of information per trip. This particular write-up is based on one of the handouts for a 2000 Beer Hunt, based in Bruges, in Belgium, and Rotterdam, in The Netherlands. For details of the whole trip, click on Past [Beer Hunts], in this sentence, or at the top or bottom of this page. The write-ups on other Pubs of the Month can be accessed by clicking on Archives, or by using the "Previous Month" and "Next Month" links at the top and bottom of this page.

Bruges is deservedly Belgium's most popular tourist destination. It is a magnificent place for the general visitor. It certainly was long overdue for the award of Cultural Capital of Europe, which it got in 2002. Bruges absorbs tourists particularly well, so large crowds do not spoil its charm. World-class tourist attractions go hand in hand with facilities such as marvellous restaurants and hotels to suit all price ranges, and excellent transport connections. Bruges is easy to get to from the UK, being only 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the port of Zeebrugge, and it is motorway practically all the way from Calais, 115 kilometres (70 miles) away. For information on its tourist attractions, see the official tourist board website

Bruges also has an incredible number of first rate bars, both from the Specialty Beer point of view, such as this White Beer Travels "Pub of the Month" and the elegant Staminee De Garre (De Garre 1, tel 050 34 10 29), and from the "gem" point of view, for example, Bruges's oldest bar, the Café Vlissinghe (Blekersstraat 2a, tel 050 34 37 37,, which also has some excellent beers. Yes, Bruges is of utmost importance when it comes to Speciality Beer (Speciale Bieren). Full details of the Specialty Beer scene in Bruges can be obtained from the fifty-six page White Beer Travels "Guide To Bruges", which is one of a number of guides that can be obtained from the Downloads page of the site.

't Brugs Beertje should not be missed by any serious beer drinker when in Bruges; it is quite simply one of the world's greatest Speciality Beer bars, right up there with: De Heeren van Liedekercke (, White Beer Travels Web page), in Denderleeuw;  Kroegske, in Emelgem (, White Beer Travels Web page); De Bierkamer, in Kluizen (, White Beer Travels Web page); t Arendsnest (, White Beer Travels Web page) and In de Wildeman (, in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands; and the Wynkoop (, White Beer Travels Web page), in Denver, Colorado, USA. 't Brugs Beertje is featured on the bottom half of the front cover of Tim Webb's don't-enter-Belgium-without Good Beer Guide Belgium; click here to see it, this being a White Beer Travels Web page covering Tim's books on Belgian Beer. More details of these are to be found on Tim's "books about beer" website, Copies can be purchased from Tim's site, and from CAMRA (, the CAMpaign for Real Ale, and from, or from Those obtained from Tim's site are signed. Fittingly, Tim's essential guide to the Belgian Beer scene, the first edition of which came out in 1992, evolved from a gathering of beer writers that took place in 't Brugs Beertje, in 1987.

On Bruges's main square there is a shop called "Bruges Collectibles" (Markt 7 (Belfort) tel 050 49 06 14,, which describes itself as the Huis van "Het Brugs Beertje®" (note the registered Trade Mark logo; will the pub have to change its name?; 't is short for Het, which is a form of The, the other being De). This souvenir shop is to the left of the entrance to the Weavers' Hall (Lakenhalle, Cloth Hall), the building surmounted by the most impressive, tall Belfry (Belfort or De Halletoren). It is entered via an archway of the zaal Adornes (zaal meaning room or hall, which in this case is an Art Gallery, for which one pays quite a lot to see what you think might be an exhibition by a well-known artist, but only has copies when you get in). The shop, which is just to the right on going through the entrance to the Adornes Gallery, sells bear-related items, particularly teddy bears. In the window, there is a translation of 't Brugs Beertje, in a number of languages, the English being given as "The Bear of Bruges", which is generally more usually written "The Bruges Bear" in reputable sources, i.e. no utilisation of the diminutive when translated into English, i.e. "tje" or "je" are the equivalent of the "let" that converts a pig into a piglet. In fact, The Bruges Bear, is, according to legend, the city's oldest inhabitant. The legend is that, in 862, Boudewijn I (Baldwin I, Baldwin Iron Arm, c. 839-879), the first Count of Flanders, kidnapped Judith, the daughter of the French King, Charles the Bald, from a monastery in Senlis, in France, and married her. Charles, who was born on the 15th of May (my birthday), in 747, and who died in 814, was the son of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor. Charles did not take to his new son-in-law and sent him and Judith off to Flanders. In a wood, in an area that is today Bruges, Boudewijn killed a ferocious bear. Although dead, the bear then crawled out of its skin, it then taking its place on the city's Coat of Arms, on which there is, indeed, today, a bear.

Note that there is a Dutch-language A4-sized cartoon book that can be purchased in the beer lovers' 't Brugs Beertje, written by Jan De Bruyne and illustrated by Daubi entitled De enige, echte en wrede geschiedenis van de Brugse Beer (The Unique, Real and Cruel Story of the Bruges Bear). It costs €3.75 (February, 2005). Click here to see a reduced sized version of its front cover. Note that a map comes with it, the "Bere Route" locating the various statues and images of Bruges Bears that are to be found throughout the city.

There is one above the entrance to this great Specialty Beer bar, of course, which is number 4 on the "bear Route", but the most famous one is number 11, which is on the Academiestraat side of the Poortersloge (Burghers' Lodge), a building with a most impressive, slender spire, that dominates Jan van Eyckplein, the square with a statue of the renowned Flemish painter, Jan van Eyck (c. 1389-1441). The Burghers' Lodge is where the city's more affluent inhabitants (its burghers) met with foreign merchants. It was also the headquarters of "Het Gezelschap van de Witten Beer" ("The White Beer Society", sorry, no, "The White Bear Society"), an organisation that arranged tournaments, such as Jousting (Steekspel). It was they who commissioned the statue of the bear, in 1417, which, today, is often to be seen in costume. The Poortersloge (Academiestraat 14-18) now houses part of the Bruges State Archives (Rijksarchief te Brugge,

This is a photo taken outside t' Brugs Beertje showing the date in which the building in which it is housed was built, along with a Bruges Bear. Click on it to go to the place's website

"The Bruges Little Bear" - note the one above the entrance, in the photo to the left, which was taken by John White, in February, 2003 - is, as already stated, the translation of this place's name, bear translating to beer in Dutch. It has also been previously explained that "je" or" tje" are used to form the diminutive, in Dutch, but are often not translated into English, as is the case here. In Dutch, Beer is Bier (plural Bieren). The bear featured is significantly smaller than the one on the Poortersloge, and thus Daisy is adamant that the English translation of the bar's name includes the word "Little", since the place is named after this smaller bear. Therefore, I believe that, in English, it is "The Bruges Little Bear". I prefer this to the one using the possessive case (Bruges's Little Bear, see below), since the Flemish starts with 't; one would not say "The Bruges's Little Bear". Note that the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) use Bruges's for the possessive case rather than Bruges' as they do Paris's rather than Paris'. Note also that an oft quoted translation of the place is The Little Bruges Bear, but it is the Bear which is Little, not Bruges, so, for me, it is better called "The Bruges Little Bear". Clearly, the pub's name is a pun, with Bier in mind; there are certainly no "Small Beers" in this place!

Note that there is some controversy about the translation, for example, American beer writer Chuck Cook, after an extensive interview with Daisy came up with Bruges's Little Bear, click here to read an excellent article of his on the place on the Celebrator website,

As can be seen from the photo to the left, 't Brugs Beertje is housed in a building dating from 1632, which, like many, many places in Bruges, has a typically Flemish stepped-gable roof, see the photo of its exterior above. It is run superbly by Daisy Claeys; her husband, Jan De Bruyne, who set up the place, works behind the scenes and in other ventures. See the photo above of Daisy serving a draught Moinette Blonde.

't Brugs Beertje's beer list of over 230 bottled beers, plus five on draught, contains no Pilsener style beers (Pils); it is laid out by Province; West Flanders is particularly well covered.

On draught there are some resident beers, such as De Koninck for €1.75/2 (25/33cl) (March, 2005 prices, as per the others quoted for this place, unless otherwise stated). There are guest bottled beers, such as, on this visit, De Regenboog's Pandreitje 2002, which was €2.50. There are also seasonal beer, such as Christmas beers, for example, the superb Gouden Carolus Xmas at €9 (75cl) (December, 2002). Note that the last of these are sold off at a discount price. For example, the latter was €7.75 in February, 2003. These beers are detailed in the place's beer menu book. Note that there are some beers not in the book that are usually permanently available, such as the three beers from Westvleteren Trappist monastery, including the great 12o (ABT) (10.2%).

The following is only a small sample from the very extensive list of "permanent" bottled beers, the volume being 33cl unless otherwise indicated: Girardin Gueuze for €4.50, their Kriek at €4.75, and their Framboos for €5 (all 37.5cl); Oude Kriek Boon for €5 (37.5cl); Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze at €4.50/9 (37.5/75cl); Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus for €5 (37.5cl); Troubadour at €2.75; La Chouffe and Mc Chouffe, both at €7.75 (75cl); Rodenbach for €1.75 (25cl); Poperings Hommelbier for €2.50 (25cl); Dikke Mathile at €2.50; the two Van Honsebrouck Kasteelbieren at €3, and this brewery's Geuze Fond Tradition at €4 (37.5cl); Duchesse de Bourgogne for €2.50 (25cl); Orval is €3; Rochefort 8o/10o for €3.25/3.50; Brasserie des Légendes/Ellezelloise's Quintine and Hercule Stout, at €3/3.25; Moinette Blonde at €2.75/7.50 (25/75cl); De Regenboog's 't Smisje Honingbier (Honey Beer) (6%), Dubbel (at the classic Tripel strength of 9%)/Tripel, Guido and Wostyntje Mosterdbier (Mustard Beer), all at €3; St. Bernardus 8o, 12o, and Tripel for respectively €2.75/3/2.75; Dupont's Brune at €2.50 (25cl), Avec les Bon Vœux de la Brasserie at €7.75 (75cl), and Saison at €2.50 (25cl); Hanssens Oude Geuze, Oude Kriek and Oudbeitje (their Pajottenland Strawberry Beer), at €4.50/4.75/4.95 (37.5cl); and Trappist Achel Blond and Bruin, both at €3.

This is a photo taken in 't  Brugs Beertje on the 20th anniversary of its opening. Click on it to go to the place's website This is a photo taken in ' t Brugs Beertje, featuring some of it wall plaques. Click on it to go to the place's website

The place was opened as a Speciality Beer bar by Jan and Daisy on Friday, the 13th of May, 1983. They were running a restaurant before this, but recognising the growing interest in Belgian Beer, this great place was born. The photo just above, on the left, was taken exactly twenty years later, on the 13th of May, 2003. It features Roger Protz (1939-) (, Daisy and John White; it was taken by barman Jelmer Debaeke. Roger, who is editor of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide, is wearing a tie from the British Guild of Beer Writers (; he was the Chairman of the Guild when the photo was taken; John is on the Guild's committee. Earlier in the day, Roger and John had visited the Chimay Trappist Brewery (, click here for more details.

For such an institution, the place is fairly small, with just two rooms, plus a back room used for functions. The background music is classical. There is nothing really striking about the décor; the walls are covered with a superb collection of enamel brewery plaques, as can be seen in the photo, above right. In this, I am sampling a glass of De Regenboog's "'t Smijse Halloween" (10.5%) (€3.25 in February, 2005), a superb beer that has Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seed amongst is ingredients. This, and a number of other such rarities, are not on the printed beer list. 

Your cursor is on a photo featuring De Regenbog Beers, in 't Brugs Beertje, a world-class Belgian Beer bar, in Bruges. Click on it, to go to 'The Bruges Little Bear' website

De Regenboog's world-class beers are brewed by Johan Brandt, in the Bruges suburb of Assebroek. They are something of a speciality at 't Brugs Beertje; it is always worth your while asking what is currently available from this great brewery. Note that Johan is to open a new brewery, De 3 Sleutels (De Drie Sleutels, The Three Keys), Driesleutelsstraat, Mater, near Oudenaarde, in East Flanders, in 2005. I am not sure, at this time what this means vis-à-vis the future of De Regenboog, in Assebroek. Watch this space for developments! In the photo to the left, which was taken by Joyce White, in March, 2005, I have a rarity from Regenboog, in my hand, and its bottle; Sleedoorn Bier (6%), a Sloe Berry (Prunus Spinosa) Beer. I am with Peter Verté, a former barman in 't Brugs Beertje, who also has a Regenboog beer in a glass with its bottle, which a couple of weeks previously I had had on draught in the place: 't  Smijse Wostyntje Mosterdbier (Mustard Beer).

In 't Brugs Beertje, it is possible to book a lecture on beer, with tastings, in the back room, the Bieracademie. Daisy hosts these; they are well worth attending. Each participant receives a particularly attractive "course" certificate, as did my Beer Hunt group in 1993. One is not given a string of everyday and/or ordinary Specialty Beers from Interbrew (now that load of Bankers, InBev) or from "Scottish Courage Alken-Maes" (SCAM). Need I say more than that, on our 1993 course, Daisy introduced us to the extremely rare Hanssens Kriek (5%), truly one of the world's greatest beers. It was one of a string of amazingly good beers we sampled. Beer Heaven!

Your cursor is on a photo of John White with Professor Arnoldus Goedbier. Click on it to go to the Professor's website, to learn all about his Nationaal Instituut voor de Mythologie van het Bier (National Institute of Beer Mythology)
Your cursor is on a photo of John White with Xavier Vanneste, of De Halve Maan Brewery, in Bruges (Brugge), West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium. Click on it to go to the brewery's website

Someone else who promotes beer throughout Belgium, including in the back room in 't Brugs Beertje, is Professor Arnoldus Goedbier (, of the Nationaal Instituut voor de Mythologie van het Bier (National Institute of Beer Mythology). In the photo, above left, which was taken by Joyce White, in 't Brugs Beertje, in December, 2005, I am with the professor. Also taken in the place in the same month, by Filip Geerts, see soon, was the photo, above right. I am with Xavier Vanneste, the Zaakvoerder (Business Manager) of De Halve Maan Brewery (, in Bruges. Xavier is the son of Véronique Maes, the owner of the brewery. In my hand I have a glass of the brewery's Brugse Zot (6%), which is available in a good number of bars in Bruges, along with Brugse Zot Dubbel (7.5%). On this occasion, Brugse Zot was available on draught in 't Brugs Beertje at €2.75. After a few years of its beers being brewed elsewhere (the Straffe Hendrik range. which are now brewed by Liefmans), on an initiative of Xavier's, brewing recommenced in April, 2005, in the Brouwerij De Halve Maan. Brewery visits are possible without pre-reservation, see the place's website, which has Dutch, French and English pages.

Your cursor is on the logo of Brugse Autonome Bierproevers (BAB) (Bruges Autonomous Beer Tasters), a beer consumers' organiation, based in Bruges (Brugge), in the Belgian Province of West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen). Click on it, to go to BAB's website

Brugse Autonome Bierproevers (BAB) (Bruges Autonomous Beer Tasters) ( is the local branch of Zythos (, White Beer Travels Web page), the Belgian beer consumers' organisation. They have an annual beer festival ( in the Belfry (Belfort, De Halletoren). In 2007, it will be on for two days, commencing Saturday, the 15th of September.

The inspiration for BAB's name and logo comes from a former Bruges brewery, the Brouwerei Aigle-Belgica. Today, on the site of the brewery, is the very attractive and well-appointed Golden Tulip Hotel de' Medici (, Potterierei 15 (tel 050 33 98 33), which has a restaurant named after the brewery.

Other drinks in 't Brugs Beertje include glasses of Port (Rode Porto) and White Wine (Witte Wijn) are €2.50. Food is of the snack variety, for example (February, 2005 prices): Spag Bol at €7; Croque Monsieur uit 't Vuistje (in the Hand) at €3, met Garnituur (with Garnish) at €4.25; Boerenpaté (Farmhouse Paté with Bread) for €6.75; Kaashapje (Cheese Cubes) at €3; and Kaasschotel - 5 Soorten Belgische Kaas met Brood en Rauwkostsalade (5 Belgian Cheese Platter, with Bread and Raw Vegetable Salad) for €8.75.

This is a photo taken inside 't Brugs Beertje, Bruges, in Belgium.  It features Filip Geerts. Click here to go to his website

A great supporter of 't Brugs Beertje, and Belgian Speciality Beer in general, is Bruges resident Filip Geerts, who can be seen in the photo to the left, with John White. We have glasses of the magnificent Christmas version of Gouden Carolus, from Het Anker (, which was available on draught at the time of our visit (December, 2003). The 2004 version was still available on draught in February, 2005, when it was amazingly good, with unmistakable, pronouncedly more liquorice notes: it was truly stunning. It was back again at Christmas time, 2005, when it was €3.25, as was Regenboog's Smijsje Kerst.

Filip also has the essential Belgian Beer Board message board/website, Another must-visit website from Filip is, which features his famous Belgian Beer Pub Map website, Click here for a White Beer Travels Web page featuring Het Anker.

The photo was taken, in December, 2003, by Ian Jarrett, a regular contributor to the Belgian Beer Board, and also to another message board covering Belgium, the Burgundian Babble Belt (

To get to 't Brugs Beertje from the Markt, leave it on Steenstraat, which is in the direction of St.-Salvator Cathedral. Kemelstraat is off Steenstraat, the third on the right, with a square, Simon Stevinplein, on the other side of the road. Once in Kemelstraat, this great pub is on the left.

Your cursor is on a photo taken at the annual dinner of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Click on it, to go to the Guild's website
Your cursor is on a scan of a table name, 'Bruges Bear' for the annual dinner of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Click on it, to go to the Guild's website

Of course, The Bruges Little Bear is world renowned. At the annual dinner of the British Guild of Beer Writers (, held in London, in December, 2005, each table was named after a famous pub; guild committee member John White requested that the name of the one with the beer writers who cover foreign beer (non-UK beer) be called The Bruges Little Bear. Space for the sign size used (see the scan of the actual sign on the right) reduced this to "Bruges Bear", as you can see, from the photo on the left, which was taken by John White, at the event. In the photo, are 't Brugs Beertje (The Bruges Little Bear) regulars, Podge and JezzaP, who were guests of Tim Webb at the guild's dinner. Tim was most justifiably awarded the 2005 prize for the best piece of writing on foreign beer, i.e. for his Good Beer Guide Belgium, which is covered at the top of this Web page. Click here for a photo of Tim with his award.

't Brugs Beertje is open from 4pm until 1am, apart from Wednesdays when it does not open. In addition, from December, 2005 until at least Easter, 2006, it will also not be open on Tuesdays. Beware having a Christmas/New Year break in Bruges, since it is shut quite a bit at this time, i.e. typically on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the 31st of December. It will also not be open from the 1st to the 5th of January, 2006. Soon after opening time, it can quickly get full, but the crowds die down after 6pm, so, if you can, from then on is a good time to visit. Note that it also usually shuts for a fortnight in July.

Two doors down from 't Brugs Beertje, there used to be a famous Genever (Low Country Gin) bar, 't Dreupelhuisje. However, this is no more; it is now a Restaurant called the Bistro Tolkien, which is in the same ownership as a long-established place on the other side of the road, with a realted name, De Hobbit (Kemelstraat 8, tel 050 33 96 16, This gets good reviews in guides for its grills, pasta and croques, these being detailed on the place's website. It is open each day from  6pm until  1am. Also close by is the excellent 38), which has a superb bar, but is more of a restaurant. Not to far away, a new, 400+ beer bar, "Gambrinus De Koning" (Gambrinus, the King [of Beer]) is due to open in Bruges, in March, 2006, at Philipstockstraat 19. The proprietor is Regnier De Muynck, who has a beer shop on the same street, De Biertempel, at Philipstockstraat 7.

John White (1945-), Your cursor is on an image of John White's e-mail address. Click on it to send an e-mail to John, December, 2001, updated in June, 2007.

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