You just can’t get enough of Belgium: Paters Vaetje and more Belgium Brews
Of all the beer bars and all the breweries and all the cafes and all the restaurants I went to during my trip to Europe, there is one that holds a special place in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I have several favorites, but Paters Vaeje in Antwerp is my perfect beer bar.
Picture this. You walk down a cobble stone street past stone facades, small boutiques and cafes, in the back drop is a beautiful Gothic Cathedral with a tall, winding steeple. 700 hundred years have passed, people dress differently, store fronts change around the square, the seasons come and go, but this cathedral stands into the night sky, just as beautiful and ornate as it was at its conception.
Onze-Lieve- Vrouwekathedraal towers over the square and off to the side, next to an alley stands Paters Vaeje, know to us English speaking folk as The Monk’s Kettle. Already we are off to a good start. After walking through the square, admiring the holy structure and battling the harsh winds, we step foot into Paters Vaeje, a local beer bar. Adorned with trinkets, photos and art nouveau, mirrors and stain glass accent the back of the bar. At first attempt, we walk up a short, yet narrow spiral staircase to the second level of the bar. A small space with a balcony that over looks the lower portion, you can look down on the wood floors, the busy bartender, the bottles of beer and your fellow beer lovers. We quickly notice that the small, rickity space was encompassed by a group of boisterous, young drunks. After retreating back down stairs, we settle next to the wooden stove, embers burning, heating the whole bar.
As I sat drinking Boon Geuze, Rochefort 8 and 10, the sky was dark and grey, the cathedral shown bright outside the window, I felt as though I had found that perfect place with the perfect lighting inside, the perfect scene outside, the perfect noise level and a beer list of bruins, lambics, geuze, blondes, triples and Trappist beers.