Visit the beer capital of the world

Monday, 11 June 2007 12:00 AM

The statue of Fonske in Leuven, Belgium

The statue of Fonske in Leuven, Belgium

The city of Leuven is arguably the beer capital of the world, packed with bars, breweries, and boasting some of Europe's best known beers.

A great destination for gourmet holiday where you can taste dozens of different beers, along with authentic Flanders cooking, Leuven is in easy reach of the Belgian capital Brussels as it is around 15 miles away.

The city is the home of Stella Artois, which was first associated with town in 1366, and was one of the town's most important businesses by 1537.

The brewery behind Stella, InBev (formerly Interbrew) is one of the biggest in the world, and the company's offices and brewery take up large chunks of the north-eastern area of the city.

Stella Artois may be its best known beer, but InBev's extensive beer brands include everything from Beck's and Staropramen, to classic Belgian beers such as Hoegarden and Leffe.

The hub of the city is the Old Market square (Oude Markt), which has the highest concentration of bars and cafes in Leuven, as well as being the site for the regular summer music festivals that take place there.

With such a big brewer operating in a small city you might be forgiven for thinking that it would be difficult to drink anything other than an InBev beer - but there are other breweries flourishing there.

These can be tasted in the unique drinking spots in the city. The Domus brewery pub is a must-visit to get the traditional Belgian beer experience in an authentic setting.

The pub pumps the beer into the taps directly from the brewery, and serves three different traditional beers all year round.

Holidaymakers can visit the brewery as part of a group tour with their tour operator or by visiting the official Leuven tourist board office (http://www.leuven.be).

Another popular place to sample Belgian beers on tap, including the traditional Trappist beers (brewed by Trappist monasteries), is the Wentelsteen Café.

And for all things Leffe, there is The Leffe Café - a brasserie where you can sample the beer's different varieties, located opposite the municipal theatre.

For more information on the summer music events see www.marktrock.com and www.beleuvenissen.be and the Belgian tourist board

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