In the district of West Flanders in Belgium is the popular coastal town of Ostend (Ooostende). Its sandy beaches and popular harbour attract tourists every summer, including many day trippers. But for beer lovers too there is a lot on offer, including some great brews and this selection of bars in which to drink them.
Pubs and Bars in Oostende (Ostend), Belgium
Steve Rogerson visits the Belgian coastal town of Ostend to sample some of the bars on offer
Taverne Lautrec on Petit Paris
Photo by Steve Rogerson
Ostend (also spelt Oostende) is a popular port in the West Flanders region of Belgium. There is a direct rail link with Brussels and the sandy beach makes the city a popular tourist attraction in the summer.
As with other cities in Belgium, Ostend has available an interesting selection of beers and nice places in which to drink them. As well as the country’s popular Trappist and Abbey beers, there is a local flavour, notably the Keyte beers from the nearby Strubbe brewery. Their Keyte Oostendse Tripel (7.7% abv) and Dobbel Tripel (9.2%) are worth sampling as is the Dikke Mathile (6.6%), named after the city’s statue of an unclothed woman.
Botteltje, Louisastraat 19
Ostend has a lot of good bars but this one is the must-visit, the city’s beer emporium with more than 300 beers available, of which around fifteen are on draught and the rest bottled. The draught variety changes as they always try to keep the customers entertained. Once upon a time, this was a tiny members-only club but over the years has grown to a good sized bar that oddly has the look and feel of a British pub. Meals are available and there is a separate dining area upstairs. In the main downstairs bar, look out for the little high table that is a converted and still working bottle-corking machine. Road signs round the pub tell you how far it is to well-known breweries – a full 764km from Guinness in Dublin but only 41km for Rodenbach, for example.
Zeegeuzen, Kapucijnenstraat 38
This nautically themed bar has a house speciality drink called Zeegeus, which is a bottle of St Louis Gueuze beer mixed with a secret blend of spirits, of which one is believed to Armagnac. The sweet beer has an edge to it and is served in a porcelain jug. The bar does sell other beers including bottles from the local Keyte brewery. Most of the tables are made from cartwheels. The little snug at the back is a nice addition to a nice pub with the look and feel of a local. Friendly service and slightly subdued lighting make it a good place to relax.
Taverne Lautrec, Koninginnelaan 75
This small bar on the busy Petit Paris square is the Ostend outlet for the Luxembourg Diekirch brewery, with two of its beers on draught and another one or two bottled. There is a small amount of seating outside on the square and more in the split-level area inside, including barstools. Expect a friendly greeting from Jo the landlord.
Den Hellige, Bonenstraat 5
Close to the harbour down a street lined with bars, most of which appear to have conservatories in front, including this one, this bar was until recently called ’t Eilandje. There are beers on draught plus a wide range of bottled beers. Dark inside, there is sometimes live music. The conservatory has wooden seats with loads of cushions. And there are a small number of tables and chairs on the street, but beware a bombardment form seagulls.
Koekoek, Langestraat 38
Famous for its cooked chickens, and as there is nothing else to eat, they have to be tried. The whole bar has a chicken theme. Sit yourself down, order half a chicken each and enjoy with a glass of Rodenbach to wash it down. Leffe Blonde and Stella Artois (yeuk) are available on draught, but are not as good with the chicken. The bottled beers range from Guinness to Duvel and Westmalle Dubbel and Trippel. The bar is ideal if you are in a rush for food as the chicken is on your table within seconds of ordering. There is also outside seating at the front and side.
Den Artiest, Kapucijnenstraat 13
This restaurant cum bar is popular for steak lovers and does have some reasonable beer, mostly in bottles though the Brugse Zot stars in the draught range. The popular bottled beers include the likes of Orval, Chimay, Westmalle and Kwak. The pub itself is on multi levels, with upstairs seating and a small round mezzanine area with one table directly above the cooking zone; could be good if you like cooking smells with your drink.
Other Pubs in Ostend
The very pleasant promenade beside the beach has a number of bars to cool down in while watching the tourists and the city centre itself has a variety of alternatives to the ones listed here. Look out too for publicity from De Oostendse Bierjutters, a local beer appreciation society that organises the odd beer festival.