I went to college and a year of a university level course at Southend to learn about music production and technology, something I now have nothing to do with but now I wish I had set sail and and done my education (drinking) in Leuven! Leuven is a 25 minute train ride from Brussels and is home to KU Leuven University and is very much a uni town. If Ostend is like the Southend of my trip then Leuven is the Chelmsford! A mixture of the old and the New with busy long shopping streets packed full of trendy shops and sales galore sitting next to huge squares and massive impressive Gothic buildings. It’s also labeled the home of beer… Now I don’t know if this a marketing gimmick by the homes world dominating beer creators of Stella Artois and Leffe or if there is some real meaning behind it but hopefully it is to do with the amount of orginal breweries there used to be here once upon a time and the fact it is home to the longest bar in the world.
We was lucky on our day and half visit here as in the evening was Beleuvenissen festival, a free music festival spread out over the squares of Leuven markets and also a free volleyball arena set up in town for all to watch! So it gave us a few things to do for free while here.
Beer wise as you can imagine Stella and Leffe are pretty dominant among the cafes but to be honest most places has decent bottle menus and most Trappist beers was represented. We did however visit a couple of places that had a little bit more.
M cafe is a clean slick wine bar-esque cafe located within in the Leuven museum but you can visit for a beer and a beer they do well! The main guy behind the bar looked a right chap and was clearly like myself a bit of a beer geek as he genuinely looked excited when you ordered some of the less known beers. On tap was Alpaide which very jealously on my part the misses ordered! A 10% heavyweight dark in appearance and full of gorgeous roasting tastes with a coffee finish! I however went for Kessel Blond 7.5%. Which in its own right was still a really good beer however I certainly had a bit of beer envy going on! They stock a few other local beers too including the wolf family. Situated down a quite street near the hustle and bustle of central Leuven M cafe is worth a visit even for the Alpaide alone!
On the outskirts of Leuven you will find the big Stella brewery but in Domus you will find another brewer, a brew pub brewery with a few house beers among a fairly large beer list. I know Domus is good and would be a must visit for anyone but the combination of a bit of a rude waiter (although it was very busy) and it being incredibly hot in there while eating made our visit to Domus not as good as it should be! It was hugely impressive building and outside had live music on while you sat at your table (we wasn’t able to change table to outside just after ordering which was a bit of a shame) but the Nostra Domus beer I had was pretty decent!
Brassiere Foyer deserves a shout just for the situation! We sat outside for a few hours, half of it waiting for the free concert to start and once it had we was very lucky with our spot as it got incredibly packed very quickly!
Didn’t see a menu or even go inside but I saw people drinking Westmalle which I did also saw triple Karmeliet, Chimay, Vedett, Leffe, La Chouffe on tap and Duvel among few others I saw about! The waiter service was really good baring in mind how busy it was and that their was only two of them! All in all added to a very nice evening outside.
Before leaving Leuven we popped in De Weiring for a quick bev to kill the hour before leaving. A restaurant cafe covering three floors and an outside terrace De Weiring sits pretty next to a canal. 100+ beers here and a few on tap including Adelardus dubbel triple 9% , the beer chosen by my other half.
I had the Wolf 9. A deep reddish brown dark beer weighing in at 9%. The walls are decorated with old beer adverts, paintings and old clocks?! The food smelt lovely coming from open planned kitchen and made us think maybe we should had eaten there the previous night. On your way out you also have something very different I haven’t seen before.. A wall of free Lolly pops! Although a great idea and very different I’m not sure what state they may have been in due to the current hot weather!!!
Leuven is a slick lovely on the eye city which mixes the new with the old perfectly. There is more cafes here then you could ever possibly need so it may be hard to dig out the good ones. We was lucky with our picks but I am sure that there are even more great bars to explore within the city… just stop a student and ask!!!