Beer & the city // Surviving Brusselization: the fate of Brasseries Atlas

Brussels has not been kind to its architectural heritage. The process of “Brusselization” describes the “indiscriminate and careless introduction of modern high-rise buildings into gentrified neighbourhoods” that characterised post-war urban planning in Brussels and was responsible for the callous destruction of historically important buildings, whole neighbourhoods, and local communities. Brussels’ breweries and their architectural legacy were not immune. The Grandes Brasseries Atlas is an exception.

Beer & the city // Surviving Brusselization: the fate of Brasseries Atlas

Brasserie En Stoemlings - moving up, and moving out of the Marollen

It’s early on a warm mid-July evening, and Denys Van Elewyck of Brasserie En Stoemelings is sitting behind the counter of the brewery, boxes piled up behind us and brewing equipment almost ready to be packed up. En Stoemelings, founded by Denis with his childhood friend and fellow Brusselaar Samuel Languy, is about to retrace the timeworn exodus of Brussels breweries from the centre to the periphery. Their brewery, which opened in 2015 on the Spiegelstraat in Brussels’ folksy Marollen district, is moving out and moving up. And, about time says Denys.

Brasserie En Stoemlings - moving up, and moving out of the Marollen

BXLBeerFest - Brussels' newest beer festival

The Brussels new wave beer scene continues apace. First cam the beer bars. Then came the breweries. And now it is the turn of the beer festivals. After the Swaff festival in July, this weekend it is the turn of the BXLBeerFest, what will be the largest beer festival dedicated to small, independent (craft, even) breweries organised in Brussels.

Over bottles of Orval at A la Mort Subite, Kevin Desmet – a.k.a. the Belgian Beer Geek – told me about the background to the festival, Brussels beer compromises, and why they think you should go to BXLBeerFest.

BXLBeerFest - Brussels' newest beer festival

Drinking in Koekelberg // The past, and a future?

Change comes slowly to Brussels. But it is coming to the corner of Brussels where the unfashionable communes of Koekelberg, Jette, and Ganshoren meet at Parc Elisabeth in a jigsaw puzzle of municipal borders. Hotel Restaurant Taverne Le Frederiksborg and Bar Eliza represent old and new Brussels, and show in their contrasting fortunes how accelerating demographic changes are reshaping the neighbourhood. They also serve beer.

Drinking in Koekelberg // The past, and a future?

When is a Brussels beer not a Brussels beer?

It is a simple enough assumption: that a beer with the name of a place would be made at that place. In Brussels, as elsewhere, reality is a little muddier. A new beer launched in June that puts Molenbeek at the centre of its branding raises issues of provenance and what it means to be a Brussels beer.

When is a Brussels beer not a Brussels beer?

Brussels Beer City - charting a city's beer revival

Brussels Beer City is a blog about Brussels and its beer culture. This is not an industry blog. Nor is it a beer review site. There are other, better websites if that is what you are looking for. That is not to say that I will not cover developments in Brussels’ brewing industry, or discuss and rate beers from breweries in Brussels. What it does mean is that I want to write about the city’s broader relationship with beer and brewing – its breweries, its bars, and its cultural, historical, and urban legacy.

Brussels Beer City - charting a city's beer revival