Day Two, Brussels: Poechenellekelder, Mort Subite, Ploegmans

We woke up Sunday morning and had to hurry to get our free hostel breakfast. The breakfast established two patterns that remained constant the entire trip: Oxfam fair trade products everywhere, and the standard minimal breakfast consisting of bread, cheese (always the same lightly funky variety), cold cuts, spreads for the bread, and muesli.

Having lost our Lonely Planet guide, we purchased a map of Brussels from the hostel for 0.40 € (or is it 0,40?). We returned to our room, marked some bars on the map and headed out. Our first stop was Poechenellekelder on Rue du Chêne. We took the subway to the Arts-Loi (Kunst-Wet) stop and walked through Park van Brussel on our way to the Grand' Place.

Poechenellekelder, which means "Mannequin Cellar," is across from the Manneken Pis, which was dressed in a costume that morning.

As its name suggests Poechenellekelder is heavily decorated with puppets. It wasn't terribly crowded when we arrived so we were able to easily get a table in the larger room away from the entrance. We sat near a group of Americans whose heavy accents suggested that they were from somewhere in the south. Snippets of their conversation that we caught suggested that they were the academic types.

504. Geuze De Cam

Having enjoyed the Boon Mariage Parfait Geuze at Moeder Lambic the night before, we decided to try the De Cam Geuze. Incidentally, aside from the serving baskets at Cantillon, this was the first time we'd been given a serving basket for a bottle of Gueuze. I think this is the beer that led us to propose a morning Gueuze break instead of a coffee break.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: De Cam Geuzestekerij
Alcohol: 5.50%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Gueuze, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (5.0): Pours a lightly hazy golden, with a thick creamy head that has great retention, and leaves patchy lace on the side of the glass.

Smell (4.5): Sour acidic tartness, light fruit, and light barnyard aromas that are enhanced upon swirling.

Taste (4.5): A very intense acidic sourness is dominant. There's a light lemony citrus character in the center that brings along a bit of sweetness, followed by a mild earthiness. Excellent, excellent sourness.

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

Drinkability (3.5): The sourness necessitates that this is a sipper.

Overall (4.45)

505. Bush Blonde

We also had this at Poechenellekelder.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie Dubuisson Frères
Alcohol: 10.50%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a cloudy, straw color, with a thick white head that fades to a thin film leaving patchy lace.

Smell (4.0): Very fruity, but hard to place. Sugar, alcohol and grain are also evident. There's also a bit of a phenolic aroma upon swirling.

Taste (4.0): Fruity and sweet upfront, with hints of banana. The center is grainy, and the finish is a nice mix of berry sweetness, yeast and peppery alcohol, with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Full-bodied and creamy with low carbonation.

Drinkability (3.5): Ten and a half percent alcohol and it shows.

Overall (3.85)

After leaving Poechenellekelder we went to A la Mort Subite (Sudden Death) on Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères. The Good Beer Guide: Belgium describes it as a fin de siècle (turn-of-the-century) long bar. There's a bench that runs the length of the establishment with accompanying tables. The inside was nice (check the website for pictures). We had a round of the Mort Subite beers and a salami and cheese plate with pearl onions and cornichons. The beers catered to the mainstream palate, but the food hit the spot.

506. Mort Subite Framboise

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij De Keersmaeker
Alcohol: 4.50%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Fruit Lambic, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a cloudy red-orange, with a rocky, pink head that retains well and leaves heavy lace on the inside of the glass.

Smell (2.0): A sweet raspberry fruitiness dominates, with only a light funkiness evident.

Taste (1.5): Sweet and syrupy raspberry is all that is evident.

Mouthfeel (3.0): Medium-bodied, tingly carbonation, syrupy.

Drinkability (3.5): Drinkable, but too sweet.

Overall (2.45)

507. Mort Subite Gueuze

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij De Keersmaeker
Alcohol: 4.50%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Gueuze, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy golden-orange. Topped by a white head that thins to a patchy film leaving heavy lace.

Smell (3.0): Acidic sourness. Swirling brings out light funkiness and an odd sugary aroma.

Taste (3.5): Moderate sourness with some citric notes, lightly sweet in the center. There's a light funkiness in the finish. All of the lambic characteristics are there, but they're toned down.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light-bodied, low carbonation, lightly dry.

Drinkability (4.0): Toned down and easy to drink.

Overall (3.55)

After leaving Mort Subite, we took the Metro to the Palais de Justice. We walked past a WWI or WWII statue of large barrel-chested soldiers with crossed arms, on which someone had placed a Chimay Blue empty. There was an elevator that went from the high ground near the Palais, to a lower part of the city where Ploegmans was located. The bar itself was nothing special, the beer selection was pretty pedestrian. We ordered a Lindemans Gueuze and the ubiquitous Jupiler, which seems to be the Belgian equivalent of Bud.

508. Jupiler

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie Piedboeuf
Alcohol: 5.20%%
Serving: Tap
Style: Euro Pale Lager, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a clear, straw color with a foamy white head that fades leaving heavy lace.

Smell (2.0): Pretty standard lager smell. Light hops, sweet malt, with a little graininess.

Taste (2.5): Standard. Malty sweetness followed by light grain and a mild hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel (3.0): Crisp, with moderate carbonation, somewhat watery.

Drinkability (3.5): Easy to drink because it's boring.

Overall (2.75)

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