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BRUSSELS, Belgium — Ask an American somewhat familiar with the bar scene in Brussels for a tip, and chances are they will suggest one of the Irish pubs in town.

But approach a real connoisseur, a baron of beer, a dedicated discriminator of that fermented fluid famous for frivolity — and soon off you will be to an authentic Belgian bar. Two establishments come to mind: A la Mort Subite and La Bécasse.

For this installment, it must be La Bécasse, though any bar with “sudden death” in the name will no doubt occupy this space one day soon.

La Bécasse is an old time, dimly lit bar with long tables, wrought iron light fixtures, a lot of wood decor and a couple of unique beers found nowhere else but in this corner of the world. It also can be hard to find, which tells you something about the clientele: the experience was worth the search.

“We almost didn’t find it, but we kept on looking,” Reuben Clark of Pittsburgh said after making the pilgrimage with his wife, Meghan. “We were looking for something that was tucked away — and it is literally tucked away.”

The Clarks, both teachers, learned of La Bécasse by consulting travel know-it-all Rick Steves. On this night, they weren’t the only ones dropping Steves’ name.

One table over from the honeymooners, were a trio of U.S. servicemembers led by Marine Maj. Kelly Thompson. He was joined by Navy Capt. Tony Heimer and Marine Lt. Col. Erin Zellers.

“All of us could be sitting at O’Reilly’s, but you wouldn’t know it from any other Irish bar,” Thompson said. La Bécasse represents “whatever culture left that is not watered down.”

La Bécasse’s patrons are of all ages, giving the joint a communal feel. And while the food is moderately priced, the main reason people frequent the place is its authenticity feel and sweet-tasting, thirst-quenching blend of beer.

The house specialty is Lambic beer, a unique style of brew found only in the Brussels area and in nearby Pajottenland. Created from a process known as spontaneous fermentation, Lambic beers at La Bécasse come to you in a traditional stone pitcher.

“It’s our specialty,” said manager Patrick Keltermann. “You can’t find another bar in Brussels that serves that beer.”

See previous After Hours reviews here.

La Bécasse

Brussels, Belgium

Prices: Moderate. House beer and a plate of spaghetti cost about 10 euros.

English menu: No, but waiters speak English well enough.

Specialties: Sweet, refreshing Lambic beer.

Dress: Appropriately casual.

Location: 11 rue Tabora straat, center of Brussels near Grand Place. Situated a few paces from La Bourse, or stock exchange. Facing Bourse, go to the right. Look for neon signs, then brass sandpiper under foot and take short gangway to front door.

Web site: None currently.


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