In the heart of the city the Halve Maan (Half Moon in Flemish) brewery is making great beer in the same spot since 1856, through six generations of the Maes family.
The most popular beer made here is Brugges Zot, zot being a fool or jester (story going back to something some emperor said about the city being full of fools); it's a fruity blonde ale in the 5.7% abv range. Another winner is their Henrik Strasse, brewed both by conventional fermentation and with wild brett yeasts.
The English language tour was led by Maggie from Juneau. She
seems happy working here in beer heaven--but she did ask if I might have brought a bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter across the pond in my luggage! Here she is demonstrating the levels of roasting applied to the barley.
After a quick tour of the modern equipment, the visitor is led through the old brewing setup. Wort was cooled up on the roof in big copper tubs. The fermenting tanks were in a horizontal alignment, each with a hatch big enough to admit a (skinny) worker to get in and clean the tanks. A second worker stood outside to watch the cleaner, pulling him out if he passed out from CO2 or beer.
The tour includes a glass of Zot in the elegant, canal-level dining room; I had to linger over the soup and bread with a second glass, this of the wild-yeast Henrik Strasse. Magnificent aroma and taste!