Tucked away in the outskirts of Brussels city centre lies the dark sheep of Belgian breweries. The problem child. The rebel. You see, Brussels Beer Project are a very unconventional brewery by Belgian standards. They look to innovate rather than replicate, and want to turn the “sometimes too conservative” Belgian brewing traditions on their head.
Leave the abbey, join the playground.
Back in May, Rob and I were on a bit of a beer odyssey in Belgium. Having spent 3 nights in Brussels, then 3 in Bruges, we found ourselves back in the capital for a final day, and we were at a bit of a loss. Our trip was coming to an end and we would soon be back in England crying for Dubbels, Tripels and Quads, not to mention, our new friends, Lambics. On the other hand, this is all we’d been drinking for the past week, and our taste buds were calling out for IPAs and more experimental creations. This is when Rob’s brain miraculously kicked back into gear and reminded me that the Brussels Beer Project tap room was open today! So we fired up Google Maps and marched on over to the other end of town. 6 hours later, at closing time, we marched our way back, via a conveniently placed fast food joint.
As we walked in, we were welcomed by a modern, contemporary bar, bursting with colour and style. Their barrel aging programme greeted us to the left and crates were scattered everywhere, even forming the tables and stools. There was no denying this was a brewery, and that’s before even seeing the equipment in the back.
It’s evident from their branding that Brussels Beer Project are here to have fun. If you lined up their labels with the likes of Chimay and Westmalle, I know where my eyes would be drawn. Their tag-line is more tongue in cheek than they let on – they are proud of their country’s incredible beer legacy, but instead of doing what has already been done they want to tread new ground.
13 taps were on during our time there – we made the most of this and sampled the vast majority. Their headliners (or ‘All Stars’ as they dub them) each deserve a permanent spot on the roster. Delta IPA, Dark Sister and Red My Lips are all impressive in their own rights, but Babylone, their bread bitter, takes the innovation crown. Named after the kingdom that discovered the power of fermented bread, Babylone combines Chinook hops with bread to create a very enjoyable, sessionable beer. Brussels Beer Project work with a local non-profit organisation to collect fresh, but unsold bread and manage to pack 2 slices into every bottle.
We were so enthralled with the Beer Project that upon leaving we each grabbed a poster and tasked ourselves with getting them home unscathed. Despite the hazardous nature of a plane’s overhead storage compartment, I can happily report that our Delta prints safely made it back over the English Channel.