Progressive beer bar in the heart of Saint-Gilles, Brussels
Belgium is often considered the home of beer and certainly some of the world’s most renowned brewers with the likes of Cantillon, Delirium and De Ranke among many others, sought after by new and old beer lovers alike. Dynamo in Saint-Gilles is one of a small number of new breed Belgian bars focussing on craft beer, and by God they are doing it well.
The first thing that grabs you when you walk into Dynamo bar de soif has got to be the taps. The brushed steel tubes definitely dominate the V shaped bar, simple beautiful shapes which shout one thing immediately ‘choice’ as the rank numbers eighteen. You won’t find many of the old guard Belgian brewers here though as owner Greg Rifaut has chosen to focus mostly on craft beer with a highly curated selection. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate the quality of Belgian beer, but with so many other bars in the city specialising in these, he wanted to focus on his passion for craft breweries.
When we ventured in for the first time we’d already sauntered past a few other good locations in the city, namely, Brussels Beer Project and Monk Bar, both of which I would recommend by the way. We were on our way back to our accommodation and thought we’d drop by Dynamo as it was nearby.
The bar wasn’t busy as it was Easter long weekend and a lot of locals head out of the city for the holiday, but there was a pleasant vibe of a few small groups chatting. The beer list was a let down on initial glance, not at all because of poor selection but because half the taps had been dedicated to a tap takeover from UK brewer, Weird Beard, so we’d had many of them before. This is a bar for Brussels locals, adventurous enough to step away from the typical Belgian crowd and go exploring, so Weird Beard for them would be one apart from the norm.
Dynamo enjoys doing the ever increasingly popular tap takeovers and has managed to feature many of our fantastic UK brewers with some brewers flying over for Meet the Brewer events. The other half of the taps were a selection mostly of high quality Belgian brewers, including De Ranke, Dupont and Tilquin [mmm, gueuze]. If you want to step away from beer, the bar also specialises in organic wines.
My general rule of sitting at the bar tends to pay off especially when abroad. You are far more likely to get talking to the locals, regulars or bar staff. This occasion was no exception. We learnt that the bar hosts political discussions (yes we talked about the B word), many local home brewers call the bar their local and there is a regular meet here to discuss brewing and trade bottles. Apparently it was converted from two town houses and was previously a hairdressers (testing my beer memory on these details). There is also likely to be a Mario Kart competition going off in a corner. With a Nintendo and Super Nintendo setup on a small tv near the entrance and an N64 on a large screen just around the corner of the bar.
It is worth asking about their selection of bottles, Greg has a particular love of dark beer, so there is a secret stash of glorious ones he may have on hand at any given time. We enjoyed a bottle of Cuvée Delphine with him, which we found out was one of only 3000 bottles made, a beautifully smooth but immensely dense Russian Imperial Stout brewed by De Struise, made by aging their well known Black Albert on bourbon barrels. It took us well over an hour to enjoy the bottle between the three of us and we enjoyed every moment.
Towards the end of the night, a few of the home brewing locals dropped by on their way to a party and we were offered to try some of their beer, thanks by the way Stephen, it was a damn tasty IPA.
If you are eager to explore a suburban bar away from the city centre, the world famous and arguably overrated bars, I would highly recommend Dynamo – bar de soif, a bar which anyone would be very happy to call their local. Word is Greg is busy organising a beer festival at the moment so that might be a perfect time to enjoy a trip to Brussels. I’ll post an update when I hear more.
How to get to Dynamo in Saint-Gilles
It’s very easy to find Dynamo bar in Saint-Gilles and fastest to get there by metro. You can catch the 3, 4 or 51 and get off Horta and walk up hill along Chaussée d’Alsemberg, the closest stop however Albert the next one along on the 51, from here walk down hill to the bar.
Whilst in the area I would definitely suggest dropping into Moeder Lambic Original, just around the corner, for a great selection and a bar well known for specialising in Belgian sours.
- Dupont – Saison
- De Ranke – Guldenberg, Triple
- Siren – Calypso, Berliner Weisse
- Sesma Brewing – Termino Monte, Blonde
- Ask about Greg’s stash of bottled dark beers
- Tilquin – Gueuze. A Belgian gueuze is an acquired taste, but one you should work on.