Sunday, 4 December 2011

Belgian Beer Cafe - Belgian - Kingston A.C.T.

During one of my jolly bus jaunts throughout Canberra over the weekend I found myself in Woden. As I returned to the bus interchange I noticed a bus with the sign "No 938 Canberra CBD via Kingston". Ok it wasn't a direct route to Canberra CBD but I'm not in a hurry. As the bus makes it's way through the suburb of Kingston I make a last minute decision to get off.

So now I start wandering aimlessly through Kingston with no particular purpose. People are sitting in outdoor cafes enjoying the warmth of November and life in general.

From a distance I notice an establishment that has a certain degree of familiarity. It's a Belgian Beer Cafe.

What wine is to the French, beer is to the Belgians. There are 178 breweries in Belgium from the multinational concerns to the diminutive micro brewery. Unlike the closed system process used by major breweries throughout the world where beer fermentation process occurs  in sealed vats, many fine Belgian beers are fermented in open vats. The significance of this is that the flora of atmospheric bacteria varies from region to region. The subject of microbiology is something I have little knowledge about except I can appreciate that climate, humidity, surrounding vegetation, levels of pollution all interact to produce a unique bacteria that has direct influence on the beer fermentation process which affects the final product. Drinking Belgian beer is such an exact science that an etiquette determined by Belgian beer drinking culture needs to be followed to fully appreciate Belgian beers.

Most Belgian beers exactly specify the serving temperature on the side of the bottle. In addition each beer needs to be served in a specific serving glass. The shape of the glass is illustrated on the side bottle with the serving instructions. Recommendation is provided on the bottle label to illustrate as to how the "head" of the poured beer should appear.

From my personal experience in Belgium I found that there is more finesse to drinking beer than there is to drinking wine and the while wine drinking is an activity associated with the well healed, while beer consumption is relegated to the unsophisticated masses in most other European cultures the opposite appears to be true with regard to Belgium. Drinking Belgian beers is an artisan pastime.

Personally I am not as sophisticated as others and my Australian heritage is difficult overcome. "You can take the boy out of Sydney, but you cant take Sydney out of the boy." So besides being fond of Vegemite I like Aussie beer served cold. Much of the Belgian beer offerings trend along the lines of British Stout Ales and to the unaccustomed taste along the lines of Guinness (please don't comment on this as I am trying to connect with Aussie beer drinkers), so I'm not too fond of many of the full bodied Belgian beers. I personally prefer the lighter beers and so "Hoegaarden Witbier" is my favourite.
I've spent considerable time in Belgian Beer Cafes when I've backpacked throughout Belgium (in particular Antwerp), so you can imagine my pleasure to come across this little gem of a place in Kingston A.C.T.

A place to catch up with some friends.
The interior is commensurate with many Belgian Beers Cafe. Plenty of wood grain furniture in the way of wall verniers, bar, tables and chairs. Various Belgian paraphernalia is adorned on the wall to provide a Belgian Beer Cafe ambience. It really is a comfortable place to unwind in.

Large open breezy windows gives that outdoor feeling.
I visited at Saturday lunchtime, so the atmosphere is most likely different with the night crowds. During the day it comes across as very relaxing. While I contemplate what to order I ask if my favourite Belgian beer Hoegaarden Witbier is on offer. As a matter of fact it's on tap, from a keg. This is my kind of bar. It's a nobrainer  and I order a 0.5L glass.

Hoegaarden Witbier - 500mL - $15.00
I have had a deep seated affinity for this beer. First brewed in 1445 Hoegaarden is a witbier (wheat beer) and is spiced with coriander and orange peel. It is unfiltered and therefore cloudy in appearance. I don't know what it is about this beer, but it is my all time favourite. After  a while I place my order for my meal. They had mussels on the menu ($33) in various forms. In hindsight I should have ordered mussels as this is a quintessential Belgian feast offered in many of the real Belgian restaurants I that I have visited in Belgium. I foolishly tried to save some money on the cheaper option of Fish'N'Chips ($22) which really isn't a real Belgian experience.

Garlic"N"Herb Bread - $7.00 - After the fact !!!!!

My sincerest apologies, but I momentarily forgot I was a food blogger and consumed the garlic bread without taking photos in the first instance. The reader is asked to use their imagination. Beautifully toasted sour dough bread with garlic infused butter. Absolutely excellent mouth watering entree that extinguished  hunger pains I was having.

Fish'N'Chips - $22.00

The fish and chips was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal for what it was. I must admit that I had a little food envy towards a group of lady diners. They had all ordered mussel dishes and this looks like it was the speciality of the house. There is always next time.

Belgian Beer Cafe from the outside.

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Belgian Beer Cafe
29 Jardine St Map
Kingston, ACT 2604

Tel.: (02) 6260 6511

Belgian Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Dear Jack,

    I always love a smooth Hoegaarden on a hot summer day and these Belgian beer cafes seem to have taken Sydney by storm in recent years.

  2. Nice Blog ! Hope you will like my newly built site which sales the famous Belgian Beer.