Top 5 Belgian Beer Bars in Brussels: Belgium in a Glass

By andrew - September 12, 2014 (Updated: November 30, 2015)

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series Belgium in a Glass.

Our Top 5 Beer Bars in Brussels, Belgium

Most bars in Brussels serve beer, but few offer an extraordinary selection. So today, we share our top five Brussels bars and cafés for tasting Belgian beer.

Belgium is known for beer (and chocolate, waffles, and frites, but I’m just going to focus on the beer for now). I started writing about Belgian beer, because I felt the variety, although wonderful, makes it inaccessible. If you know nothing about Belgian beer, then you will have no idea what to buy or why. Gaining confidence requires tasting a wide variety – a chicken and egg problem.

Earlier in the series, I taste tested the monthly beer box from Belgian Beer Discovery, a simple way to discover a different brewery each month. They’ve also just released their own guide to tasting beer, a welcome addition for learning about the different beer styles.

However, the oldest, most traditional way to discover beer is to visit a pub or a bar. Fortunately, Brussels has a number of great bars that feature beer. But, like the beer itself, if you don’t know where to go, finding a good Brussels beer bar is daunting. Today I will share my five favourite spots in Brussels for enjoying a Belgian beer.

Moeder Lambic Fontainas

The best bar in Brussels, to discover beer, is Moeder Lambic Fontainas. Located near the Bourse, it offers 40 beers on tap and a rotating list of ‘guest’ beer from around Belgium and the world. There is plenty of seating inside and out, making it a good place to meet up with a friend or two. The staff is well versed in the options and they are happy to make suggestions based on your preferences.

I like sampling the beer on tap, as it is unusual to find so many options for draught beer in a bar. Ask for a recommendation, if you are not looking for something particular. Food is limited but good quality and includes tartines, quiches, excellent cheese boards, and charcuterie.

Tasty nibbles at Moeder Lambic Belgian Beer Bar in Brussels

Tasty nibbles at Moeder Lambic Belgian Beer Bar in Brussels

Moeder Lambic Fontainas
8 Place Fontainas
1000 Bruxelles

Moeder Lambic’s original location is a small one-room bar in Saint-Gilles. It is a cozy spot with a great selection of beer (of course). If you are in the area, it is also worth visiting (if you can find space).

Moeder Lambic Original
Rue de Savoie 68
1060 Saint-Gilles

Bier Circus

My ‘local’ beer bar, Bier Circus, comes a very close second to Moeder Lambic. With 200 types of beer available, there is something for everyone. The staff is also very helpful and happy to offer suggestions.  Where it really shines though is in the food. Simple, but homemade and tasty, each meal features the use of beer. It is a great way to explore beer in a different way.

Anything but a circus in Brussels' Beir Circus

Anything but a circus in Brussels’ Beir Circus

The owner carefully curates Bier Circus’ beer catalog. I am particularly happy they carry a nice selection of beer from my favourite brewery, De Dochter van de Korenaar. Bier Circus has a cozy tasting corner as well, although I recommend getting there early.

A final note: Bier Circus is very close to the Cirque Royal concert hall, so if there is an event on the bar may be busy before and after the show.

Bier Circus
57 Rue de l’Enseignement
1000 Bruxelles

La Porte Noire

A recent discovery, La Porte Noire occupies a red brick cellar, down the hill from Sablon. The bar’s entrance is quite imposing, as it is literally a black door behind an iron grate. The bar isn’t visible until you descend the stairs and enter the cellar.

Don't be intimidated by La Porte Noir

Don’t be intimidated by La Porte Noire

La Porte Noire features a dozen or so beer on tap and 100+ different bottles of beer. They also offer one of the better whiskey selections in the city (an extra bonus for me!) The room contains simple benches and tables and sometimes features live music. The staff is very well versed in the beer, however it is often quite busy and noisy, making conversations with the bartender difficult.

I love the atmosphere of this dark cellar. The beer selection on tap is always interesting and I’ve discovered quite a few new beer from their taps. I would recommend visiting La Porte Noire if you want a livelier atmosphere and are willing to try what’s on tap.

La Porte Noire
67 Rue des Alexiens
1000 Bruxelles

La Porteuse d’Eau

Located between the Metro, Porte de Hal, and the Parvis in Saint-Gilles, the La Porteuse d’Eau surprised me. Built in a faux Art Nouveau style, it features over 70 beer varieties and offers a hearty selection of classic Belgian dishes. It is a great place to unwind after exploring the Saint-Gilles market.

I know the Art Nouveau décor is imitation, but I loved the details and the spiral staircase. It is a beautiful spot to enjoy a beer and a bite to eat. The big windows and high ceilings make it feel open and inviting. If the upstairs is open, you can hide up there all afternoon.

La Porteuse d’Eau
48 Avenue Jean Volders
1060 Saint-Gilles

Au Daringman

This one is a bit special. Daringman is what many refer to as a “Brown Cafe.” As far as I can tell, a ‘brown’ cafe is a simple, neighbourhood, working-class bar. Certainly, at Daringman, just up from Place St. Catherine, there is no pretension. It is a simple, straightforward local bar. They have a good selection of Belgian beer and the staff is willing to help you make a choice. It is a busy spot, but definitely a worthwhile experience.

I like the local vibe. It is not a typical tourist trap, as it looks a bit rough. However, it has a friendly atmosphere, with people meeting to chat about the day’s events. It’s a great spot to enjoy a beer and check out the local life.

Au Daringman
37 Rue de Flandre
1000 Bruxelles

Of course, there are plenty more beer bars in Brussels. A few I still want to visit include: Le Corbeau, Cafe Bizon, Goupil Le Fol, and Poechenellekelder. I’m certain more will come along after writing this article. Each one of these bars will help you discover Belgian beer in a relaxed way. Choose your style, and dive in. It is the best (and tastiest) way to learn!

I didn’t find these beer bars on my own. Rarely do people in Brussels find great places without a recommendation from someone else, myself included. Most of these bars I discovered through our friend Gilbert. Over the years, he has shared his discoveries with me and I want to acknowledge and thank him for doing so.

Do you have a favourite place to discover beer in Brussels or elsewhere in Belgium? Please share your recommendations in the comments below, so others and I can discover them for ourselves.

Recommended Belgian Beer Books:

Good Beer Guide Belgium
Good Beer Guide to Belgium
This is a great overview of Belgian beer, bars, breweries, history, events, and more. It is probably the most up-to-date and comprehensive book around.
All Belgian Beers
All Belgian Beers
A handy reference for tasting notes and for the basics about hundreds of beer.

Be sure to check out our Guide to Belgian Beer and Breweries in Belgium.

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Andrew is our resident tech-geek and is normally found lurking behind the scenes on doing things with code that Alison finds mysterious. He comes out of hiding occasionally to write about history and technology. He is also part of the duo that produces Tech Brew, a podcast about beer and technology in Belgium. He loves castles, driving on narrow, twisty mountain roads and relaxing with a glass of peaty Scotch. Follow Andrew on Google+
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  1. Comment by Alan Hope

    Alan Hope September 12, 2014 at 10:48

    In the neighbourhood of the Daringman you also have the Via VIa travellers’ cafe, Le Laboureur and Monk, all of whom have something to offer. Monk has a selection of 75cl bottles they call “social” because you buy one and share it with friends, exactly as you would a bottle of wine. Le Coq on Rue Auguste Orts often has the scoop on new beers from Brasserie de la Senne. Scott’s Bar opposite La Mort Subite has a wide range of Belgian bottled beers.

    Speaking of which, rather an emphasis in this article on draught beer, which is understandable from a British beer lover, but which misses the special nature of Belgian beer. Belgium has really made an art-form of the bottle-conditioned beer, and all of the very best Belgian beers — let’s say ALMOST all to cover me for when I send this and think of an exception — are bottled beers. That’s why there are different glasses for every beer: draught beer all demands the same kind of glass. There’s a whole ritual to the pouring of a beer, from a Duvel to a Zinnebir, which is dependent on bottle and glass. Good beers can be available on draught, like the Chimay Triple, but on the whole the best ones are in bottles.

    Finally, as an avid follower of this blog, I’m aware how much attention you guys give to food, but this is one place you could have decided to eat something before going out. Beer and food pairing is an art lots of people pretend to have, few of them convincingly. Beer bars are for tasting beer, not for boozing, and not for accompanying a meal. I personally couldn’t care less what the food is like if the beer menu has some worthy entries. I’m not here to eat. Of course, everyone has his or her own preferences, but on this matter I assure you I’m completely right 🙂

    Thanks for this. Definitely useful, and worth saving for whenever people come over.

    • Comment by Andrew


      Andrew September 15, 2014 at 17:21

      Alan – thanks for your input. I love your discoveries in the Beer & Food magazine so I respect your input. 🙂

      You’re bang on … this could have become a much long list! I did forget Via Via… you are right it is an excellent spot, kind of hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets. I considered adding Monk as well … and the 75cl bottles are a great way to taste without committing too much. I’ll have to check out Le Laboureur.

      I did emphasize the draught, but I hear your argument for bottled beer. I’m not going to go so far as to say they are (almost) all the best… but I’ll take your word for it. For me, there is something about a bar with plenty of draught beer on tap which is appealing. Maybe because your options are typically so limited.

      Thanks again for some great ideas on new places to explore. Cheers!

  2. Comment by Diana

    Diana September 15, 2014 at 09:47

    I would add Poechenellekelder. They have a fantastic beer list and the waiters are all very knowledgeable AND take the time to pour and serve the beer correctly. Plus, on a nice day it’s fun to sit outside and watch the tourists across the street taking pictures of Mannekin Pis. On a cold day you can enjoy the fantastically kitschy interior hung with old marionettes.

  3. Comment by Andrew


    Andrew September 15, 2014 at 17:22

    Thanks for the recommendation, Diana! Poechenellekelder is definitely on my list to try. The decor you describe reminds me of The House of Elliot in Ghent 🙂

  4. Comment by Maya

    Maya September 16, 2014 at 10:49

    Goupil Le Fol has some great fruit wine – four types of berry wine to be more precise. A must-visit place in Brussels 🙂

  5. Comment by Paul

    Paul September 22, 2014 at 13:43

    Amongst these 5, our favorite is the Moder Lambic !
    Really great placed for beer and cheese/charcuteries plates but pretty packed on weekends.

    • Comment by Andrew

      Andrew September 22, 2014 at 15:22

      Thanks, Paul – it is a great place to discover beer. I find weekend afternoons to be ok.. but any of these places are going to be busy on a weekend night. 🙂

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