Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant (Ghent, Belgium)


From a couple of different sources, we were told to visit Ghent over Bruges.  Enamored with the movie In Bruges, we spent our overnight time in Bruges before heading to Poperinge to drink Westvleteren.  So we hit Ghent for the day on the way to Antwerp for a disappointing trip at the Kulminator.  After our short day in Ghent, it is the top of our next trip list for Belgium.    

To maximize our day, we left early and got on the first canal boat tour of the morning.
Our tour guide Matthew gave us a personalized tour of the city because we were the only ones to buy a ticket.  While chatting, Matthew told us of a local beer named after the largest bell of the city center clocktower: Klokke Roeland.  We saw the famous bell while walking. Google the image to check it out—it's a bell. This part of Belgium is known for it's clock towers, especially to the west around Bruges. In Bruges the day before, there was a list of historic Belgian clock towers in the area. Evidently, some people collect clock towers like I collect beer. We missed a lot of small breweries in this area, so a combination clock tower tour while beer hunting is definitely a good vacation possibility.

At the conclusion of our tour, Matthew sent us to the Bierhuis to taste Klokke Roeland.  The bar's proper name is Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, which seems to mean beer on the water's edge (according to google translate). Right on the canal in the historic center of Ghent, the Bierhuis is clearly the place of choice for thirsty tourists. We had two drafts.  First, Augustijn Blonde. Straw gold with an off white head, slight spice in the nose with a solid light malt. Smooth flavor, easy drinking.

Next, Klokke Roeland. Shimmering amber beer with a dirty white head served in the same styled glass as the house tripel at Staminee de Garre.  Earthy malt nose with a little spice and only a trace to betray the high alcohol. Sweet malt and a light spiciness from the alcohol in the taste.  Easy and dangerous to drink, it's slightly off balanced but a nice beer.  BA rating is less than stellar, but I thought the beer to be a bit better than the reviews.  The reviews I looked at seemed to be of stateside kegs at east coast bars; I would guess drinking local probably helped improve my sample.  

I'm glad we stopped to try the Klokke Roeland, but the fourteen taps are of middling range of standard Belgians.  The beer was well served and I wouldn't hesitate to have a quick, easy draft here again when being a tourist in the heart of this historic city.  However, a perusal of BA bars in Ghent implies that a savvy beer geek could find better with some time and effort.  However, it's our first bar after our day at Westvleteren and we are suppose to drink at the world famous Kulminator tonight, so the Bierhuis may have suffered by comparison.  I look forward to giving it another try on our next trip to Ghent.  

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