BOTD – Vedett IPA
I needed fruit. I may have had just a handful of days continually consuming of coffee and beer and eating mainly carbs and fried stuff, but I felt like my insides were turning gelatinous.
After healing my body with pink grapefruit, I left my Ghent hotel and went to get the train to move onto Bruges. In typical fashion I got myself horrifically lost and ended up the other side of the city in the university district. Luckily such a place comes with a fair amount of interesting record shops which took my mind off the searing heat and my sweat-laden back long enough to find find the station and jump on a train (not a double-decker – really what’s the point?).
This time I was spared any further hopeless wonderings in a new city as the walk from Bruges station to the Markt is a straight one and my hotel (Hotel Marcel) was just off a side street from there.
I was on the search for the Brugs Beertje bar I had read about and wanted to sample first. Unknowing to me, I’d actually walked past it a couple times. Unfortunately it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (the two days I was in the city) so, disappointed and getting increasingly thirsty, I just found the nearest establishment that sold something wet.
It was here at a random and very expensive bar behind the Markt that I sampled my first Bruges Zot – the flagship beer of the city. To be honest I wasn’t overly enamoured, but the quench outweighed any other feelings I had towards it first time around. My second time would be unfiltered, in the brewery the next day and my thoughts would change dramatically. I then went on to a couple of bars not far from the hotel, including Cafe De Kuppe where I ordered a bottle of Vedett IPA which hadn’t long been released.
I’m an IPA fan boy so after the first bottle soon disappeared I was eager to order another and really make sense of what was going on. ‘IPA, but not really from India and not really a pale ale’ is adorned across the label and I guess it kind of fit the bill. I’m not sure it would quite hold its own against the bigger IPAs out there and the absence of a significant amount of bolshie, kick-to-your-groin bitterness probably lets it down, but having predominantly drank relatively strong, dark Belgian beers over the past few days, a light-ish beer with a bit of a hoppy, fruity punch went down like a funnel.
I went for a few more beers throughout the night, shamelessly revisiting the Duvel Triple Hop on a couple of occasions when I should have probably been sampling others – I swear it tastes more like liquid nectar the more you drink.
Ravenous from having hardly eaten since breakfast and with a fair few beers in me I was once again eager to fill my stomach with a bounty of carb-loaded delicacies. Pretty much everywhere offers Flemish stew (carbonnades flamande) and frites. I guess it’s only their version of chips and gravy, but after a few beers, close your eyes and the tender chunks of beef floating in thick brown liquor, poured over potatoes tastes almost Michelin star. I said almost.