Posted in Beer Culture

Q&A with Brussels Beer Bus… En route!

Today we are going back to the motherland. I sat down —virtually— with the guys at Brussels Beer Bus and can’t wait to share their story with you guys.

Brussels Beer Bus
Antoine Parent (left) and Benoît Miller (right) share a beer on the Brussels Beer Bus – photo courtesy of Brussels Beer Bus

I met the trio back in high school in Brussels, Belgium before I upped and left for the United States. I think we actually all went to the same school from kindergarten through high school, but you know, my memory may be failing me. Anyway, it’s been a long time. They are now all working on the Brussels Beer Bus project and hope to give their customers a one-of-a-kind experience. Let’s just say beer and Brussels are two of my favorite things in life, so they’ve got my heart! We are sitting down with Benoît to get all the juicy details on this company that was founded just over three years ago…

Who are you? What do you do in life beside the Brussels Beer Bus?

We are Antoine Parent, Vincent Miller and Benoît Miller, all born in Brussels about 30 years ago. Antoine is in the beverage industry and sells beer and wine for a living. Vincent is a sports journalist, and I have a cheese store that also specializes in Trappist beers.

How and when did you think of creating the Brussels Beer Bus?

Brussels Beer Bus
On the bus… – photo courtesy of Brussels Beer Bus

I took a trip to Australia and when I came back, I wanted to create a tourist attraction in Brussels. Very soon after, my brother joined me on the project. We quickly realized that a lot of tourists (but also the natives) wanted to know more about the Belgian brewing savor-faire but that there wasn’t very many interesting options to discover the breweries of Brussels. The problem with the breweries in Brussels is that they are often located far from the downtown area and hard to access on foot.

Since we are also into old vehicles, we came up with the idea of taking our customers in an old 1960 bus at first and, more recently, in an old ambulance dating back to the Second World War.
Antoine joined the project more recently after having gone on all our tours as a customer.

What do you guys offer your customers?

Brussels Beer Bus
Palais Royal (Royal Palace) from the bus… – photo courtesy of Brussels Beer Bus

The concept is to offer a fun and interesting time to people who want to discover Brussels, its breweries and its beers. We don’t want to transform our customers into beer experts. What we want is for our customers to remember some of our stories and the beers that they tasted when they go back home —or to a bar— and tell their friends about their experience. We favor warmth and hospitality.

On a more practical level…

We visit historic downtown Brussels by bus. We try a variety of beers brewed in our city while driving around. We then take two breaks at two different places that allow the customers to enjoy a nice view of Brussels or a monument while trying out a few beers. After that, we visit the En Stoemelings brewery (which means the brewery hidden in a corner), which is probably the most authentic of all the breweries of Brussels, whether it be for its products or employees. The tour lasts about an hour and a half, not too short not too long.

Any projects for the future?

Brussels Beer Bus
Place de l’Albertine in downtown Brussels – photo courtesy of Brussels Beer Bus

We would like to partner up with more breweries, and later we would like to create a tour for each of the breweries. We are also in contact with an association that creates beers for every neighborhood of Brussels. This will become a Brussels Beer Bus-exclusive and you’ll be able to taste the beers on our bus. Besides all that, we created a “Trappisteria” corner in my shop, Cheese Kot, located Rue Marché aux Herbes 33 in Brussels. This allows people to try all the Trappist beers and their respective cheeses. Yes, monks make beer and cheese!

What’s your guys’ favorite beer?

Brussels Beer Bus
Brussels Beer Bus at Place Royale – photo courtesy of Brussels Beer Bus

Antoine loves the Jambe-de-Bois, which is brewed by the Brasserie de la Senne. The name is a reference to the Belgian soldiers who fought against Napoleon and lost a leg and received a wooden leg as a replacement. It’s a pretty strong beer so you end up limping like a person who has a wooden leg after drinking it.

Vincent likes Kriek by Cantillon. He lives in Schaebeek where the cherries used to be harvested during the Middle Age and then sold at Grand Place to produce the Kriek.

As for myself, I’m a fan of Curieuse Neus by the En Stoemelings brewery,  which translates into a “nosy person” in the local Brussels dialect. It’s a tripel. It’s interesting to note that all the abbey beers were originally brewed as simple for the monks, dubbel for the priests and tripel for the pilgrims.

Is your trip to Brussels booked yet? Let me just say one thing: I was born in Brussels and lived there for 18 years. This bus thing sounds like a really good time, and I’ll be sure to try it out when I visit my family. Also, this may be a good time to let you all know that there is a lot of stuff brewing at the Belgian’s Beer Diary. Stay tuned for updates on all the cool stuff that will be coming your way very soon!

More photos from the Brussels Beer Bus: