Pandemic closing down bars just rubs into our noses how social of a drink the beer is with its ritual of slowly pouring the hoppy liquid into a cold glass from a freshly installed tap.
Brussels is full of surprises, if you want to find them. The little hidden secrets of the city are one of the treasures that we like to discover, because they are what a place is made of: little alleys that hide away sights of marvel, views from corners you would have never expect, sudden blinks at the end of a street, or nested within the winding trees of a park. In Brussels, there is no best place to roam and discover than St Gilles.
Melting pot of cultures and peoples, St Gilles has been a reservoir for some of the most real souls of Brussels. Rich with art, you can find an impressive amount of Art Nouveau houses - the Museum of Victor Horta, his former house, is a beauty you have to visit if you end up around here. A flamboyant Spanish and Portuguese culture springs in many cafes, restaurants and shops, with no mention of the Moroccan and north African influences.
Craft beer becomes a rite in St Gilles
Yes, yes, we didn't bring you to St Gilles to talk about architecture - rather, we want to bring you to the art of discovering where to have the best beers, the beer art, the magical craft experience and its hefty adepts.
St Gilles, in fact, is one of the most alternative boroughs of Brussels. The borough has got an impressive number of bars, from the rundown Portuguese cafes, still reeking of smoke from another era and with barflies that never move from the counter drinking Superbock or Sagres, to the posh and a little overpriced high-end brunch and cocktail joints like the Maison du People. When it comes down to beer, the Parvis de St Gilles itself features amazing beer experiences, you definitely have to stop at the Brasserie de l'Union or the Brasserie l'Egalité. Moreover, behind the Maison Communale, you have the original Moeder Lambic, the origin of the Brussels' beer sins for most of us (read our piece on it, it will make things easier when you enter it).
The place we bring you to, though, is the quintessential draught a craft experience. Dynamo, or bar de la soif (the thirst bar), is for connoisseurs. It represents an icon for what a craft bar should be, and it is the place you have to go if you want to find the best experience of what a real craft on draught should be. Together with Le Barboteur, this bar is the icon and the forefront of the most advanced attempt to create a craft beer culture not directly attached to the roots of Belgian ways of doing and drinking beer.
In between St Gilles and Forest, some few hundred meters away from the Maison Communale and the gaol of St Gilles, and litterally five minutes from the far-famed Bar du Matin - and the premetro stop of Albert, closest stop if you are a lazy walker - Dynamo is a simple and at the same time complex bar to explain.
Greg and Sylvain, the owners, are funny and great connoisseurs. They have a passion for British small breweries and a unique approach on beers in Belgium. In fact, here is one of few bars who does not give too much of a damn of what people think, the owners like craft beer, believe in it and rarely have got Belgian beers if not craft on tap. Almost every week, Dynamo's got a tap takeover from some interesting brewery, while the owners are very active on organising festivals and events around Brussels on craft beer (SWAFF! in particular has been a huge success for the movement), making this bar the place to start if you want to experience a world of craft similar to iconic places in London and the US.
By the way, this weekend BXL beer fest is on, will you be there?
The bar from outside looks quite standard, sitting at the corner of two anonymous streets. While walking to it, it looks like the traditional joint you can find anywhere: large windows on the street side, wooden tables outside, a small door to get in. However, once you go through the door, you see immediately that this is not your usual bar. Bright aluminium taps lined up hit your eye immediately, and the friendly smile of Greg behind them cannot but help you understand you are in a special place.
The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed, everything that's available is there in front of your eyes, and the 18 taps make your tongue tickle few seconds after you are in. Nice long tables, some more intimate armchairs and comfy seats, and that's all. However, if you like craft beer, on draught there is no better place you can come to.
To tell you about the beers would be to tell you about craft beer in general, so we are better off to explain you what you can find on a normal night.
Generally, there is always a lot of variation of some kind: an IPAs, APAs, saison or stout or a barley wine will always be there. Plus, it is very likely that you may find some curiosities that the owners have discovered somewhere. What you cannot find? sometimes, Belgian beers if not very nice traditional lambic producers - like Cantillon or Tilquin - and some special from Belgian craft producers.
Moreover, more often than not, there are Tap takeover nights, where a specific brewery will be the focus, and most of their beers will be available. In brief, a great way to spread knowledge and establish links and connections.
If you don't have any idea, the barman is more than happy to explain what you want or what you still don't know you want to drink, so get ready, Dynamo is the next one on the list of the best bars for craft beer on draught in Brussels.
Dynamo - Bar du soif
chaussée d’Alsemberg 130
Mon, Wed, Thur 17:00-0:30
Fri 1700 - 1:30