France has wine, Belgium has beer. Since the Middle Ages, Belgium has been perfecting the art of brewing and has developed literally thousands of different varieties and styles; such as Dubbel, Tripel, Lambic, Kreik, Trappist (and the list goes on). In the 1800’s, much of the water in Brussels was polluted, so beer, containing alcohol, which preserved the liquid and killed the bacteria, was a welcomed substitute.
Since then, beer has become a vital part of their culture and even religion. Several Belgian monasteries continue to produce beer to finance their churches and charities. But don’t envision men in robes with bald patches stirring cauldrons of wort. Even though the operations continue on holy grounds, it is done with state of the art equipment and staff who are not members of the cloth.
Of all the beer styles produced in Belgium, there is no better place to drink it than at the source. But, since that would take you all over the country, your second best bet is in Brussels. Although their two national languages are French and Dutch, many of the locals speak English. The beer bars are more like cafés, where you can get something to eat while you drink (the food in Belgium is fantastic as well). Many of the restaurants offer a house beer, as well as other Belgian options.
With many Belgian beers claiming the title of “best beer in the world”, Brussels is a great place to go hunting for it!