Brewery De Halve Maan Half Moon in Bruges Belgium

Brewery De Halve Maan in one of the most beautiful cities of the world: Bruges – Belgium.

Bruges is a fairy-tale city. It was founded over a thousand years ago. Take a boat ride on the canals. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets in between small houses with the typical stairway-shaped facades. Look up at the exuberant decorations in stone, as lace woven to show the richness of all the buildings, large and small. So many to admire: the Belfry-tower, city hall with its 48 statues in its facade, the many cathedrals and churches, the 800-year-old hospital, the justice palace, and the many art museums.

Walk from the Notre Dame Cathedral to the Beguinage. You pass the Walplein, a small tree-lined square, and you notice the seductive and sweet smell of malt. Here, beer must be brewed. Indeed, you found the last remaining active brewery in Bruges. Brewery De Halve Maan (the half moon) is brewing beer at least since 1546, the date on a document in the hands of Xavier Vanneste, owner of the brewery.

His masterwork, the Brugse Zot Blond ale (Bruges Fool) won the Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup in Seattle (2006) and San Diego (2008) for best Blond ale. And that’s not all: the same beer won also more gold medals in Europe and in Australia. Every pub and restaurant in Bruges sells the beer, and even in the USA, you are able to put your hands on this fine beer (imported by Global Beer Network). But the best place to savor this golden ale is at the brewery, where it is served unfiltered straight out of the tanks. Since 2007, a dark version of the Brugse Zot is brewed as well. In 2009 the brewery successfully reintroduced the Straffe Hendrik ale, a beer it stopped brewing many years ago.

The building of the brewery is many centuries old. The whole complex houses three operations at once: brewery, fine restaurant and the best brewery museum of Europe. The guided tour brings you through a labyrinth of spaces, full of old and still older brewing equipment, brewing paraphernalia (POS of all kinds as used for more than 100 years, glasses, serving trays, old bottles, old kegs, the quantity and age of different brewery things is crazy!), lagering tanks, a display of how wooden kegs were made in olden times, the malting process, etc… You see one of the last open fermenting copper vessels of the world, built under the bare tiles of the roof. And of course you walk through today’s brewery.

Why not stay for lunch or dinner at the brewery restaurant, where many dishes are prepared with beer. Rabbit, for example. My favorite! But Bruges offers over one hundred restaurants to choose from, and certainly another 100 pubs. Cheers!

Practical information:

– Brouwerij De Halve Maan, Walplein 26, 8000 Brugge Belgium

– Where to stay: try to stay within the circle defined by the canal defending the old city, and all will be in walking distance. Stay for at least a week on a budget? Google ‘Bruges B&B’. I rented the Hamilton House, a small 2 bedroom quiet house, equipped with all the amenities and 2 bikes! Stay for a couple of days? A romantic boutique hotel is your best choice, Google ‘Bruges Hotel’ and you find over 75 family-owned hotels from reasonable to expensive, but all high-quality and with a unique feel.

– Although the language is Dutch, all people you deal with will speak English.

– Three pubs not to miss: Brugs Beertje (very international largest selection of Belgian beers, open after 4 PM, Kemelstraat 5); De Garre (located in a small alley between the Belfry and City Hall. An absolute must: drink their Triple ale at 11 % ABV); Cambrinus (+ 400 beers, order their house beers, Philipstockstraat 19).