Where to drink and dance in Brussels
Belgian beer is world-famous, so it’s only natural that the Brussels nightlife revolves around its superlative taverns. But the sheer wealth of choice can be confusing. Beer menus often display a completist’s zeal, ranging from the sour, fruity lambic varieties (geuze, unsweetened kriek) brewed in and around the capital to the heavier, redder Flemish ales (Rodenbach, Duchesse de Bourgogne) of Flanders.
Connoisseurs should make a beeline for Moeder Lambic. The old bar in the hip St-Gilles area has fewer crowds than the newer, slicker Fontainas branch and still boasts its original brown, tatty interior as well as an exhaustive list of geuze beers, including many from Brussels’s own Cantillon Brewery. The staff are well-informed, too, so pump them for tips.
Into the ‘obsessive’ category also falls the ever-expanding Delirium Café, a multi-floored monster that boasts over 3,000 different beers and ales. While it can often seem like it packs in just as many tourists, the third-floor bar and tap house offer some respite. Its sister absinthe-bar Floris also stocks a decent range of Belgian-style gin, known as jenever, that’s worth a taste.
Other stalwarts include Poechenellekelder, just across from the Mannekis Pis, which not only epitomises Brussels bar décor – take a cannon, load it with vintage ‘stuff’, then fire it at the wall – but curates an excellent list of geuze brews. So, too, A la Mort Subite: an old favourite that tends to be less chaotic than most city centre bars and which has lent its name (which means ‘sudden death’) to a range of lambic beers worthy of exploration.
Those tired of just drinking should head to Bonnefooi, a hip, two-tiered music bar just off the Grand Place that’s as likely to pump out after-hours electro as host live jazz concerts (free). Camp out on the chandelier-lit benches upstairs, since space to dance is at a premium, or head to the larger Madame Moustache, near Place Ste-Catherine. This vaudeville-chic bar-cum-club does tend to squeeze its customers (it costs 50 cents just to pee!), but the music is reliably good, with plenty of dance-friendly funk, house and indie.
Moeder Lambic Rue de Savoie 68, Saint-Gilles. +32 2 544 1699. Place Fontainas 8. +32 2 503 6068.
Delirium Café Impasse de la Fidélité 4A, Bruxelles. +32 2 514 4434.
Floris Bar Impasse de la Fidélité 11, Bruxelles. +32 2 514 4434.
Poechenellekelder Rue du Chêne 5, Bruxelles. +32 2 511 9262.
A la Mort Subite Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères 7, Bruxelles. +32 2 513 1318.
Bonnefooi Rue des Pierres 8, Bruxelles. +32 2 513 5393.
Madame Moustache Quai au Bois à Brûler 5-7, Bruxelles. +32 2 265 12 61. €5-7 entry.