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A Magical Day at the Gruut Brewery in Ghent, Belgium

Updated on July 22, 2014

The Stylish Gruut Brewery Bar

When organising a beer tour for your boyfriend in Belgium, it is important to schedule your first day-trip for the day after you arrive. The reason for this, is that if you leave your boyfriend to the delights of Brussels, or give him a chance to discover the wonders of the big city you have travelled to, he will not want to leave. You must take advantage of the jet-lag, or Eurostar-lag, and get him on a train to the provinces. Pronto!

The lure of a brewery is a good way to do it. We depart from Brussels Central Station and catch the train to Ghent, where we seek the Gruut City Brewery. Ghent used to be the centre of world trade for textiles, and had a formidable bunch of city brewers during the 14th century. Over 200 brewers, comprised of Trappist monasteries; enterprising brewer families; and small independents; provided the busy port-city with delightful refreshment, which solidified Belgium's expertise in brewing. This medieval skill, and the secret recipes for brewing with herbs, in particular, remain hidden in family histories, and within monastery walls.

Gruut Brewery Entrance

At the bar, you can order traditional Belgian food, and eat inside the working brewery.
At the bar, you can order traditional Belgian food, and eat inside the working brewery. | Source

Ghent's only City Brewer is a Woman

Annick de Splenter is the owner and chief brewer of the Gruut Brewery. I expected this industry to be the province of males, so this surprised me. Annick studied biochemistry at university and has used her knowledge of organic chemistry to revive old family recipes for brewing beer without hops. Over the last few years, Annick has developed four Gruut beers; a white, blonde, amber and brown; and as we sit listening to our guide explain the history of the Gruut name and the family history, we are steadily plied with a pint of each beer. Starting with the white.


Tours are Personal and Entertaining

The guide, usually a family member, sits with each group, serving beers and giving a personal history of the brewery, Ghent Brewing, and the revival of Gruut.
The guide, usually a family member, sits with each group, serving beers and giving a personal history of the brewery, Ghent Brewing, and the revival of Gruut. | Source

Beer is Better for You than Water

From the moment I sip the gorgeous Gruut White beer, I am entranced. This feeling has built since I walked through the cobbled streets of Ghent; to the beautiful place I sit in now. This building used to be a convent, and then a trendy riverside restaurant, and is now Gruut Brewery. Our guide, Walter, takes us back in time; through an amusing, and intimately Flemish-flavoured history of brewing; including Annick's journey to settle on the brews we taste; and anecdotes from Ghent City history.

The beer is delicious, and I savour every mouthful. Herbs; coriander; grassy notes; orange; and champagne fizziness; delight my palette. I remark on this to Walter, who tells me that women in particular enjoy beer that is brewed without hops, and prefer herbs. I agree, and inside I am revelling that I have discovered beer again. I've missed it; as I live in England where the brewers are hops experts; and I did not know the remedy.

Never mind that I'm here with my boyfriend on a romantic holiday. I've fallen in love with beer again, and he's looking at me strangely, as he can see the delight on my face. Walter continues with tales of medieval Ghent, and how beer was drunk by children for many years, and was considered better for them than water. People belived this strongly in Ghent and it was common practice. Beer without hops hydrates you.

More convinced than ever that beer is now my most favourite thing in the world, we learn that due to the black plague, the river water which we look out over was unsafe, so beer was given to the children. Makes sense, but also makes us laugh, as we determine our travel catchphrase; "Apparently, beer is better for you than water."

Our travel catchphrase pops out at every opportunity for the rest of the trip, and survives long after we leave the delightful Gruut Brewery in Ghent. I remember two things about this day; that Belgian Whites have restored my palette for beer; and that travel catchphrases are one of the key essentials, to having a fun holiday.

Did you know that, apparently, beer is better for you than water?

Short Video of Gruut Brewery

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  • steffer profile image

    Stef Verheyen 5 years ago from Belgium (Europe)

    wow great article, never heard of the gruut brewery before, and i have been in Ghent a lot, since it's just an hour drive from where i live.

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Hi steffer, you MUST go, and take all your friends. They are properly charming people. I've posted their website in the article so you can find it. The tour, with beers included only cost us 12 euro. You can buy take away Gruut too, and we brought some back to England with us.

  • merchantdoctor profile image

    merchantdoctor 5 years ago from Reno

    I knew that there was a reason I always want a beer when I am thirsty! Beer IS better for you than water!

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Lol! Belgian beer is extremely good for you. I like having discovered it, because it is a lower calorie beverage than wine. It is more tasty than water!

  • CondoLux Rentals profile image

    CondoLux Rentals 5 years ago from North Myrtle Beach,South Carolina

    Haha beer is better for you than water eh? Belgian Whites are great, and are my girlfriends favorite. This sounds like a fun trip and makes me want to go tour a brewery soon!

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Thanks for stopping by! I love the Belgian Whites too.

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    Okay I confess I am more of a water girl than beer girl..heheh but your hub made me curious about breweries... :)

    Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! Bring a beer and some cheers over here...https://hubpages.com/community/Happy-HubNuggets-Va... read and vote, okay?

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Thanks Ripplemaker - it was such a great day out, if anything breweries are great for the food aspects! Thanks for posting the "Hubnugget" link - and to anyone who does click VOTE on there "A Magical Day at The Gruut Brewery in Ghent".

  • gmaoli profile image

    Gianandrea Maoli 5 years ago from South Carolina

    I'm not of a beer drinker, but I have to admit some of the beers you mentioned on here sound pretty tasty. The historical aspect of the brewery really got my attention. Better than water...who would have thought, right? Great hub!

  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    What an interesting hub! I've never tried beer brewed with herbs, but I'm sure I'd like it. Your description makes me thirsty! : )

  • TheHoleStory profile image

    TheHoleStory 5 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

    I thought I've heard of just about every beer that there was out there, but this one is new to me. Stop on by my Mystery beer hub, I think you'll like it - https://hubpages.com/food/Mystery-Beer And good luck to you on the hubnugget nomination.

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Thanks gmaoli. You will have to test out the claims about beer.

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    You must try wheat beer. I recommend Gruut, but more common ones are Duvall, Orval and Hoegarden.

  • ElizaDoole profile image
    Author

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    I will do thanks for the comment too.

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