Belgium is famous worldwide for its beer brewing. In fact, the Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has repeatedly been rated the world’s best beer. And yes – the beer is still brewed by monks. With so much good beer around, it’s hard to choose which breweries to visit.
Whether your clients are very much into craft brew or simply looking for a good ale while in Belgium, Gruut is the place to go. It was only established in 2009 and while reviews are very good, it’s not as well-known or crowded as older breweries.
HISTORY OF GRUUT
Gentse Gruut was established in 2009 by Annick De Splenter. She has a history of brewers on both sides of her family. Some of these ancestors even worked for well-known brands. When she was older, Annick decided to become an independent brewer. This was not easy. She wanted to try a medieval style of brewing that does not make use of hops. After extensive research and a biochemistry course, she finally had what she was looking for: five varieties of gruut.
If you’re not familiar with Belgian history, the country has always had two dominant cultures: French and Flemish. French language and culture tends to dominate the southern part of the country while Dutch is found in the northern part. In medieval times, the river Leie divided the city of Ghent into these two cultures. In a sense, Ghent was a microcosm of the country as a whole. The right bank of the river used traditional ingredients like hops while the left side, which was controlled by the French, used a mixture of herbs and spices called “gruut.”
A HEALTHY BEER
Consuming too much hops can have negative side effects, including an estrogenic effect similar to consuming too much soy. Unfortunately, the main source of hops is in beer, especially IPAs, which makes avoiding hops a difficult undertaking. Gruut however does not use hops.
TYPES OF GRUUT
There are five types of gruut brewed here and each one has unique characteristics:
- White – aromatic, fruity, and hint of creaminess
- Blonde – barley aroma with a cloudiness
- Amber – A deep copper color with a smooth finish
- Brown – A rich, nutty flavor
- Inferno – Golden ale
MAKE YOUR OWN BEER
For a small fee, visitors who wish to go beyond the tasting experience can actually create a bottle of their own brew. Expert brewers will instruct visitors on how to practice “beeralchemy” as they call it – mixing ingredients and finding which ones work best together. Once satisfied, visitors may take home a bottle to share with friends and family. The brewery will actually create and bottle a visitor’s recipe in larger quantities. However, keep in mind that bottling orders come in very large quantities and are expensive.
- 1000 bottles: 5.5€ a bottle
- 500 bottles: 6€ a bottle
- 250 bottles: 7€ a bottle
HOW TO GET THERE
Ghent is a very walkable city and so the fastest way from downtown is a 10-minute jaunt. It’s only a few hundred feet from the river Leie and just south of Baudelopark. When it comes to airfare, we’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to the Netherlands. Call or email us today to get started!
Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!