Now normally our first beer is always the one and only Tripel de Garre - after a chaotic 4 hour plane and train journey it certainly hits the spot (and is met with a relaxed, at home, sigh of relief)
However this visit there would be no first day De Garre, a note pinned to that ancient wooden door stated that they would be closed for the next 4 days - all the festival period?
CRAP!....quick rethink and plan b, namely 2be (hey that's no hardship) so a quick stroll down Wollestraat and it's time for our first beers (me Achel Bruin and Linda Brugse Zot)
Achel as you know is one of the eight Trappist breweries and one of the six in Belgium - well only just because Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse (Achel for short) actually sits on the Belgium / Netherlands border, the brewery sits in Belgium, the gardens in Holland.
It has the lowest production of all the Trappist breweries and is also the Trappist I have sampled the least (yes Westvleteren has passed my lips on more occasions)
Lovely aroma of sweet candy sugar, rich caramel malts, dark ripe fruits (raisin and fig) with a slight sharp, crisp finish.
Taste is dark candied fruits, sweet demerara sugar, light spices, bready malts and a hint of cocoa with the slightest hop bitterness on the finish.
My first beer in Bruges and it's a cracking start.
Now then, onto Achel No2 - yes the Blond, and this was savoured at what was our first visit to this particular bar - Cafe Rose Red located on Cordoeanierstreet (near to Cambrinus) and from the outside it can look like it's part of a hotel, but the multitude of beer paraphernalia hanging reassures you that beery heaven awaits you inside (and it does) a pleasant cosy bar with a well chosen beer list, this is now a must visit bar for us.
Achel Blond pours a slightly hazy amber and is topped by a thick, white, fluffy head and just like the Bruin it really hangs around.
Intense fruity aroma (banana and pears) coupled with clove spices, light hops and a bubblegum sweetness.
Taste follows the aroma with full on fruits (banana again) but also a citus sharpness, floral hops, candy sweetness and a dry, bitter finish.
So two great beers (and bars) from an often overlooked Trappist brewery, will I be sampling them again - most definitely, will we be visiting Cafe Rose Red again - you bet.