Published on May 9, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Stu Brew view of EU HQ
With Brussels the focus of much attention these days it seems appropriate that a group of students visited the city to experience its beer culture. Carey Boyle reports
The team from Newcastle University’s Stu Brew facility embarked on our first ever tour. And our time in Brussels was amazing.
Our first day, a Saturday, started at 10am sharp with a fantastic guided tour of Cantillon Brewery. I learnt a lot about the brewing process and it was fascinating to see the different techniques used to create Lambic beer. The brewery was founded in 1900 and is renowned for its Gueuze which is aged in oak casks. The tour lasted half-an-hour and we were greeted at the bar with two samples. I opted for the classic Gueuze and the Kriek, a sour cherry lambic.
Later that afternoon we went to 3 Fonteinen which is another renowned brewery located in Beersel in a beautiful location with a superb beer garden. We spent the day basking in the Belgian sun (I didn’t know this was a thing either…!) tasting some fine Lambics.
Later we gathered at the Brussels Beer Project for a tasting session. This was one of the highlights of my trip – the experience included the biggest cheeseboard I had ever seen. My favourite beer from BBP was probably the Smoked Blonde Stout – an interesting concept, to say the least.
The team split into groups the next day. A few of the more cultured members decided to take a trip to the European Parliament to try and sort Brexit once and for all, but unfortunately things didn’t work out. Harry Conn, one half of our stocks and sales team, tried to get in for a toilet break but was unfortunately turned away. Meanwhile, the rest of the team tried out a great bar called Moeder Lambic. We also tried out BrewDog in Brussels later that evening which I would seriously recommend to anyone visiting the city. The rooftop terrace was the perfect place to make the most of the sunny weather.
The next day I went with Chris, Sandy, Tom, Brett, Dom and Arthur for another visit to Cantillon. This was a lovely afternoon where we had the chance to taste a wider range of Cantillon’s beers exclusive to the taproom. I’m not normally a huge fan of sour-style beers but it seems that my tastes changed after becoming acquainted with new styles on this trip. Later that evening the whole team paid a visit to Amadeus Rib House, a great experience. The Stu Brew record for rib consumption at Amadeus is currently held by Ali Middlemiss who managed to devour three full racks of ribs (just thinking about how much food I ate that night makes me want to pop).
Our final day saw us taking in some more sights before our flight. Some of us visited The Atomium, a true Brussels icon. We learnt that it was built for the city’s World Fair in 1958, the first post-war World Fair so it pretty much had to blow the planet’s socks off. Its nine spheres are supposed to be a replica of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Not too shabby!
Following that experience, we popped along to Brasserie De La Senne which lies off the beaten tourist path but worth the visit. I particularly enjoyed Brussels Calling which is a Belgian-style Pale Ale.
I had been craving cheese and meat for the majority of the holiday – so I was so happy when Tom discovered La Mort Subite which is a stone’s throw from the Grand Place, the main square of Brussels. Their mixed meat and cheese board was divine and for me, the perfect end to the trip.
I would argue that this was the perfect way to end my year of being involved with Stu Brew alongside the majority of my amazing committee. I’d also like to thank our superstar trip coordinator, Rachel, for planning the trip.
Brussels is definitely the kind of place you need to visit if you’re a fan of beer and the culture surrounding it.
Stu Brew, based at Newcastle University, is Europe’s first student-run microbrewery. It is a sustainable facility, managed by students through Newcastle University Students’ Union.