Day Five, Ghent: Departure/Arrival, Aba-Jour, Gravensteen

We woke up, had the standard hostel breakfast and checked out. We were told that there was a labor slowdown on train service, but decided to continue on to Ghent. We went to Antwerpen Centraal and easily got on the next train to Ghent.

We arrived in Ghent and took the Number 1 Tram from the station to the area near our hostel. We checked in and took some of the free maps of Ghent. David spent five minutes trying to match up locations on two different maps becoming increasingly frustrated. One was a map of Ghent, the other was a map of Brugge.

We had decided on Aba-Jour, based on a positive description of the food in The Good Beer Guide. The bar was centered on the left wall as you entered. There were small tables filling most of the floor space. We sat towards the back at a table by the large windows that overlook the canal. Queen was playing on the stereo our entire visit. We were eating lunch fairly late so there were only a few other patrons there. Our waiter was very friendly and was more than happy to make beer and food recommendations. We also had a nice conversation about beer, the waiter was pretty interested in how Westvleteren acquired such a sought after status in America, he was also interested in American beers. He recommended Popperings Hommel Bier, which was nicely hoppy. He also recommended a beef stew made with Rodenbach and Westmalle that came with a small salad and a bowl of fries. The stew was excellent, as were the fries, which were served in a huge bowl with a nice flavored mayo for dipping. David asked for ketchup in the following exchange:

David: I know I'm a horrible American...
Waiter: No, no...
David: ...but could I get some ketchup?
Waiter: (jokingly) Yes, you are a horrible American.

The beer list was short, around 60, but the quality was pretty good. There was a nice selection of trappists, including all three Westvleteren beers. There was a nice lambic selection that included mostly authentic lambics. We had a great lunch and two rounds, before heading out.

533. Poperings Hommel Bier

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Eecke N.V.
Alcohol: 7.50%
Serving: Tap
Style: Belgian IPA

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy golden with an orange tint. A thick, white head slowly fades leaving sheets of lace.

Smell (4.5): Fruity with hints of bananas and light citrus with peppery spice to match. Swirling brings out aromas of grassy hops.

Taste (4.0): Fruity and sweet with some citric tartness upfront, which is met by a peppery bite in the center. The finish has a moderate hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light to medium-bodied, highly carbonated with a bit of oiliness from the hops.

Drinkability (4.5): A fine beer, nice balance bewteen "Belgian" flavors and hoppiness.

Overall (4.25)

534. Villers Oud Vieille

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Huyghe
Alcohol: 7.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Dubbel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a cloudy brown with a thick brown head that fades to a patchy layer leaving no lace.

Smell (3.5): Very sweet smelling. Notes of raisins, caramel, toffee and alcohol.

Taste (3.5): Sweet with raisins, toffee and caramel. The peppery finish serves to provide some balance.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Medium-bodied, with high carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Pretty easy to drink.

Overall (3.65)

535. Girardin Kriek 1882

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Girardin
Alcohol: 5.00%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Fruit Lambic, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy red-orange with a sudsy, pink head that fades to a thin film.

Smell (3.0): Has the acidic, cherry and funky aromas expected, but there's an odd buttery aroma as well.

Taste (3.5): Acidic tartness with some sweet cherries. The finish is tart with light funkiness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light-bodied, low carbonation, dry finish.

Drinkability (4.5): Balanced with good, but subdued lambic characters.

Overall (3.75)

536. Hoegaarden Grand Cru

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij van Hoegaarden
Alcohol: 8.70%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Witbier, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a cloudy golden-amber. A thickish, off-white head thins to a film with a prominent ring. Leaves no lace.

Smell (4.5): Coriander, banana, orange, cloves, pepper and yeast.

Taste (4.0): Sweet and fruity upfront, strong flavors of banana with mild berry notes. Coriander spice and citric tartness emerge in the center and fade into a finish with light residual sweetness and mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Pretty drinkable.

Overall (4.1)

After lunch we walked to Gravensteen, a castle in Ghent that was built in 1180. The name means "castle of the count" in Dutch. The castle tour was nice, especially since it seemed like you could visit most of the castle. There was in in depth exhibit on crime, punishment and torture. David wants to be reminded that if he ever gets a time machine he should not go back to medieval Ghent and commit a crime.

One of the canals in Ghent



A stairwell inside

A view of the canal from the castle

Ghent from the top

Presumably an archer would have been here.

A canal

The guillotine


More castle

Even more castle

The basement area

The ruins of the kitchen

This was a stable before it was a prison.

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