After a hectic arrival in Delft, followed by a tour of the Neuwe Kerk, it was time for a beer, which made our next stop the first pub we came across. There we ordered two of our favourite Belgian beers, Tripel Karmeliet and Hoegaarden Grand Cru.
This beer selection received our waiter’s whole-hearted approval, and when I pointed out the extensive beer-tasting notes at the back of my travel ‘journal’ he was fascinated, and so were the people at the table next to us.
An intense discussion of the qualities of different beers ensued between the tables, and soon my poor tattered little journal was being passed around, and our beer notes commented on.
By total accident we had ended up in a Delft pub that was very serious about its beers, ‘t Klooster!
The next evening we decided to have dinner at ‘t Klooster starting with some hoppas.
Hoppas are appetizers that are served with your beer and here are two: sausage and bitterballen (croquettes).
Knowing how serious we were about beer Helmer, the waiter, recommended a Razende Swaen Tripel. He described it as citrusy and fresh-style. My opinion: fair bit of flavour and I like it a lot, but don’t taste the citrus at all.
Hopus was his second selection for us. My opinion: Hoppy (but not very), nice light fruit. Al noted, “Overflowing with flavour, the beer that just keeps on coming.”
Helmer explained that he wasn’t a beer drinker but rather a beer taster – just a few sips and he has ‘tasted’ the beer, adding that if you drink an entire beer (or 3), you forget what you tasted, you are just ‘drinking beer’.
For my evening meal I selected red pepper stuffed with white beans, mushrooms and some kind of chevre-like cheese.
To complement my meal Helmer recommended a Nounette beer from Abbaye des Rocs, a brewery we had visited earlier. The beer was effervescent, blond, 7.5% with a touch of malt. Note: this beer MUST be decanted; the yeast dregs at the bottom of the bottle taste terrible!
Al’s dinner of frites, salad and sausage…
…which was accompanied by a Sint Christoffel Bier. (Out of Helmer’s hearing Al described it as a typical nondescript Dutch beer.)We were both fascinated by the pub’s menu, a beer-glazed parchment document with all sorts of tasting notes on it. Helmer noticed that I was trying to copy all the interesting notes and presented me with my very own menu to take home with me!
Another couple who had been listening in to our intense beer discussion with Helmer added a few thoughts on their favourite brews of the region.
“How did you find this place?,” a woman from Florida asked, wondering how we had managed to find the best bar in Delft on our first day in town.
She had been staying in Delft for the last eight months working on her thesis, had been collecting beer caps for a friend who made earrings from them. She displayed two beer caps from the famous and pricey Westfveteren Beer. (12 euros each, “Not worth it,” Helmer commented, “worth more like 8 or 9 euros…”)
Update May 2015.
In the intervening time this pub had been divided up so differently that I didn’t even recognize it. However, Helmer, our favourite waiter, was still there, and recognized us.
Unfortunately he was busy with an organized beer-tasting in the new ‘beer-tasting’ room so we went upstairs to the ‘dining’ area where we received a menu that was different from the old one.
The waiter explained that they had designed a much smaller menu because some things were just not getting ordered resulting in the staff eating a lot of left-overs by the end of the week. Now they only served their famous hamburgers (one that sounded enticing had additions of abbey ham and Chimay cheese), along with the four-course menu shown below.
We had unexpectedly had a huge lunch and really weren’t up to eating a big meal so we moved down to the ‘pub’ section where we could order lighter snacks.
First off we tried some different beers, Al a Saison de Dottignies which he described as “light, airy and slightly sour“.
I had a Kreik Mariage Parfait, which at 8% was substantially stronger, and also more sour than the other kreiks I have had. But it really grew on me, and I suspect that by the end of this trip the sweeter kreiks will have been struck off my list of favourites.
Our snack choice, selected from the menu that was all in Dutch, was a dish that contained asparagus, abbey ham and chervil – the bartender had difficulty describing it in English so I said that the basics sounded good, “surprise me!”
It turned out to be on a flaky filo pastry with whipped cream and very delicious. I’m afraid there is no photo of it; I dived in before I remembered to take one.
As my beer choice came in a large bottle Al ordered a second beer; this one a Caracole from our favourite brewery in Belgium, Caracole, along with a dessert of chocolate brownie and strawberries to share.
The beer recommended to go with the brownie was Gulden Draak and we had it later; very malty, sweet and boozy tasting.
Helmer showed up around then, and we had an interesting, although unfortunately short, chat. He confirmed that he was part owner and described some of the complications in running a small pub.
At any rate, the crowd was just as lively and friendly as I remembered. This crew, upon finding out we were from Canada immediately invited themselves to our place! “You are from America? Canada? You have a big house? A swimming pool? We are coming to stay with you!!!”
And so it’s still our favourite pub in Delft.
More about our 2012 trip along Belgium’s beer route, with a side-trip into Holland.