Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Beer in Bruges

Not, as it turns out, a typical day in Bruges: the Procession of the Holy Blood festival.
Not, as it turns out, a typical day in Bruges: the Procession of the Holy Blood festival.

At first glance, Bruges in Belgium doesn’t have a lot going on. It’s small. Tourists often outnumber locals in the summer. And in recent years it’s most famous for a quote from Colin Farrell in the movie In Bruges: “If I’d grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn’t, and I'm not, so it doesn’t.”

For these reasons, I only planned on stopping through for a day – two days tops – on my way from Paris. I ended up staying for three nights.

Why? Well, mainly the beer.

That sounds bad. I’m not like others who only visit Europe to party and consume a lot of alcohol. (I’m looking at you, Australia.) I always make a point to explore a city’s various cultural offerings. Bruges, being the beautiful and historical city it is, certainly has a lot to offer in this area – Colin Farrell be damned.

Fortunately for me and the Aussies, Bruges’ most noteworthy cultural accomplishment – in my book, at least – is its beer.

That’s not a slight against Bruges. After all, beer is serious business over there. Trappist monks brew many of their most popular beers. Do holy men regularly take time from worshipping the Almighty in pursuit of good beer in the U.S.? I grew up in Utah, so I’m definitely qualified to answer that question with a “no.”

A guide at my hostel explained that legends surround many of the Belgian beers. Take the beer Orval:

Local lore says that back in the day, a beautiful countess accidentally dropped her golden wedding ring into a pond. Upset, the countess asked God to return the ring, and, in exchange, she promised to build a monastery. Suddenly, a fish bobbed to the surface of the pond with the ring in its mouth. The countess, overwhelmed with gratitude, kept her word by building the Notre Dame d’Orval around the pond. Featuring the fish and the ring, Orval’s label pays tribute to the tale.

Some of the Trappist beers are only served in Bruges, adding to the mystique.

So anticipation, along with the smell of cheese, was heavy in the air when I walked into one of Bruges’ most famous bars, Bacchus Cornelius, with a group of tourists. I can’t remember the name of the first beer we drank. I won’t, however, forget my first taste.

I tipped the glass back and a small stream of beer gently cascaded onto my tongue. It was then that a chorus of angels playing harps appeared from above, descending down from the most blessed of places just to let me know everything is O.K. and that life would work out one way or another.

Or maybe a Canadian guy I befriended, paraphrasing the movie Beerfest, summed it up best: “I wish the beer were winter, so we could freeze it into ice blocks, and skate on it, and let it melt in the spring time and drink it.”

Two glasses later, I considered selling all my possessions and joining the monks’ ranks. Seeing as how I lost plenty of articles of clothing and a few other material things in hostels during my European travels, it’s possible my subconscious was steering me in that direction.

I just happened to be in town for the yearly Procession of the Holy Blood, a religious festival dedicated to when the Count of Flanders is said to have arrived in Bruges with a cloth used to wipe the wounds of Christ. Locals acted out scenes from the Old and New Testament for three hours to celebrate. For me, confusion set in within 60 seconds.

Here’s a play-by-play of that first minute: First I saw sheep, followed by youngsters leading camels by the reins. Then floats rolled by, and dudes dressed as cavemen ran down the narrow cobblestone street, which was lined with people snapping photos. Soon after, girls in snail-like outfits sang and danced in unison. Maybe a bit of the festival was lost in translation – in any case, it was great to see locals ban together and put so much effort into such an intricate parade.

Later that night, many filed into cozy bars around the perimeter of the small town. Between the beer and the festival, holiness was everywhere in Bruges.

(Check out more from Jared Whitlock at gradturnedvagabond.wordpress.com.)

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Customer complaint chases bullying Starbucks barista from corona-crazed coffee collective

Star-BUCKS
Next Article

Albert Brooks’ mockinfomercial introduction

The glad-handing human laugh track, assures his audience, “That was funny.”
Not, as it turns out, a typical day in Bruges: the Procession of the Holy Blood festival.
Not, as it turns out, a typical day in Bruges: the Procession of the Holy Blood festival.

At first glance, Bruges in Belgium doesn’t have a lot going on. It’s small. Tourists often outnumber locals in the summer. And in recent years it’s most famous for a quote from Colin Farrell in the movie In Bruges: “If I’d grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn’t, and I'm not, so it doesn’t.”

For these reasons, I only planned on stopping through for a day – two days tops – on my way from Paris. I ended up staying for three nights.

Why? Well, mainly the beer.

That sounds bad. I’m not like others who only visit Europe to party and consume a lot of alcohol. (I’m looking at you, Australia.) I always make a point to explore a city’s various cultural offerings. Bruges, being the beautiful and historical city it is, certainly has a lot to offer in this area – Colin Farrell be damned.

Fortunately for me and the Aussies, Bruges’ most noteworthy cultural accomplishment – in my book, at least – is its beer.

That’s not a slight against Bruges. After all, beer is serious business over there. Trappist monks brew many of their most popular beers. Do holy men regularly take time from worshipping the Almighty in pursuit of good beer in the U.S.? I grew up in Utah, so I’m definitely qualified to answer that question with a “no.”

A guide at my hostel explained that legends surround many of the Belgian beers. Take the beer Orval:

Local lore says that back in the day, a beautiful countess accidentally dropped her golden wedding ring into a pond. Upset, the countess asked God to return the ring, and, in exchange, she promised to build a monastery. Suddenly, a fish bobbed to the surface of the pond with the ring in its mouth. The countess, overwhelmed with gratitude, kept her word by building the Notre Dame d’Orval around the pond. Featuring the fish and the ring, Orval’s label pays tribute to the tale.

Some of the Trappist beers are only served in Bruges, adding to the mystique.

So anticipation, along with the smell of cheese, was heavy in the air when I walked into one of Bruges’ most famous bars, Bacchus Cornelius, with a group of tourists. I can’t remember the name of the first beer we drank. I won’t, however, forget my first taste.

I tipped the glass back and a small stream of beer gently cascaded onto my tongue. It was then that a chorus of angels playing harps appeared from above, descending down from the most blessed of places just to let me know everything is O.K. and that life would work out one way or another.

Or maybe a Canadian guy I befriended, paraphrasing the movie Beerfest, summed it up best: “I wish the beer were winter, so we could freeze it into ice blocks, and skate on it, and let it melt in the spring time and drink it.”

Two glasses later, I considered selling all my possessions and joining the monks’ ranks. Seeing as how I lost plenty of articles of clothing and a few other material things in hostels during my European travels, it’s possible my subconscious was steering me in that direction.

I just happened to be in town for the yearly Procession of the Holy Blood, a religious festival dedicated to when the Count of Flanders is said to have arrived in Bruges with a cloth used to wipe the wounds of Christ. Locals acted out scenes from the Old and New Testament for three hours to celebrate. For me, confusion set in within 60 seconds.

Here’s a play-by-play of that first minute: First I saw sheep, followed by youngsters leading camels by the reins. Then floats rolled by, and dudes dressed as cavemen ran down the narrow cobblestone street, which was lined with people snapping photos. Soon after, girls in snail-like outfits sang and danced in unison. Maybe a bit of the festival was lost in translation – in any case, it was great to see locals ban together and put so much effort into such an intricate parade.

Later that night, many filed into cozy bars around the perimeter of the small town. Between the beer and the festival, holiness was everywhere in Bruges.

(Check out more from Jared Whitlock at gradturnedvagabond.wordpress.com.)

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Albert Brooks’ mockinfomercial introduction

The glad-handing human laugh track, assures his audience, “That was funny.”
Next Article

Stuck between two cuisines

Sushi vs BBQ
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close