A Week in Limburg

The southern tip of the Netherlands is unlike any other part of the country. Where most of it is flat countryside lying just a few meters above or even below sealevel, Limburg is a province dominated by hills stretching out wedged between  Flanders, Wallonia and Germany. Countries that all have a rich beer culture. So maybe it’s not such a surprise that this small area (from east to west it’s only about 40 kilometers) boasts so many breweries, ranging from small ones to mid-range brewers who are able to sell their beer in supermarketchains. Apart from these there are a lot of good beer cafés as well, so for a beerlover Limburg is well worth a visit.

Maastricht

The capital of Limburg is Maastricht, a city that was founded by the Romans as a crossing over the Maas (Meuse) River. It has one microbrewery called De Keyzer which offers tours on Saturday, brewers of the excellent Double Saison. Be on time to sign up for the tour to avoid dissappointment.

Maastricht has three bars that are members of the ABT (Alliantie van BierTapperijen). Most nicely located is ’t Pothuiske,  almost on the River bank and near the old bridge to the other side of Maastricht. A good selection of beers on both tap and in bottles. You can sit in the wooden cozy inside or on the terrace outside. They also have decent food if you want a good lunch.

The second good bar, de Poshoorn, is located in the street that leads from the railway station to the bridge, on the other side of the Maas. Similar interior and a lot of room outside to sit. Also a good collection of beers and they even have their own beer. Not that this brew is that great, but it’s something you can’t get anywhere else and therefor worth sampling. Interesting fact: their menu is in the local Limburg language.

The third ABT cafe is Take One. When we walked in we turned around almost immediately and left the place because people were smoking. Not only is this against the law, it also doesn’t fit a beer café that prides itself on taste. For non-smokers like us the fun is gone when someone thinks it’s a decent thing to do to poison the people around you. Take One should be avoided at all times for their disrespect to people and ABT should be ashamed to put this bar in their yearly guide.

Walking to the highest beer cafe in Holland

South-Limburg is perfect for long walks and bikerides through nature. Colored wooden markers give you the option of countless trails. Fortunately for us there are also quite a few good beer cafés en route. A must for everyone who is there is ’T Hijgend Hert, the country’s most highly located specialty beercafe at 260 meters. It’s simply an amazing place which seems to be lying in the middle of nowhere looking out over the valley below. A great selection of specialty Beers, including their own blond and Brown, and also a very good menu for food. If you sit outside you’re surrounded by other hikers, a wide variety of farm animals or people who made the carride up to what can only be described as the only alpine chalet we have.

’t Hijgend Hert is located about one kilometer outside of the beautiful village of Vijlen, after which the hill and forest the café is located in is named. It’s also a stop on a hiking trail going from cafe to cafe. For more information go to www.kroegjesroutes.nl. We ended  our day of walking in the village of Mechelen at “In De Kroeën”, another great bar with some to me unknown beers from the region and a good menu. Both cafés are part of the ABT.

Breweries

The south of Limburg has quite a few medium-large breweries, most of which you can visit. Alfa in Schinnen, Brand in Wijlre and Gulpener in Gulpen. Limburg is proud of it’s culture and it’s language, which is incomprehensible if you’re not from around there. Gulpener exemplifies this regional character of Limburg. This old brewery, it started in 1825, tries to use as much local produce as possible. Local farmers provide the wheat, barley and hops. Besides this Gulpener tries to be as environmentally friendly as they can. Not without succes because the brewery has won several prizes concerning sustainable development.

Shops

We did have a hard time finding a good bottle shop. This is likely due to the fact that I am anything but from Limburg and maybe my google knowledge isn’t that great. I do want to highlight one shop in particular. In the old centre of Maastricht is a store called Glimburger which sells regional products from Limburg, both the Dutch and Belgian Limburg. They have quite a good selection of local Beers, though mostly from Belgium, and also many other great products. You can also sit down and have some coffee and vlaai, the regional pie.

Limburg is well worth the visit for beerlovers.

Text & photos by Martijn Buisman and Wendy Bos

 

UPDATE:  We’re now also on Facebook

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