The Greatest Lambic Bar In The World

If you like Belgian Lambic, Gueuze, and their fruited friends Kriek and Framboise, In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst, or “The Insurance Against Great Thirst,” is the essential beer bar for you because it has the world’s greatest selection of sour beers.

What makes the Grote Dorst a little more special, or elusive, or peerless, is that it’s only open for three-and-a-half hours a week, and that’s every Sunday from 10am-l:30pm. It’s an inconspicuous concrete cube from the outside, but step inside and it comes alive with a lift of conversation and excitement. It’s a small café-style bar with wooden beams above your head and worn patterned tiles beneath your feet. Behind the curved wooden bar you’ll see what looks like twinkling diamonds—the huge selection of branded glassware. There’s seating for 40-odd people and little standing space, so arrive early because, once you see the menu, you’ll want to stay for all three-and-a-half hours.

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To begin, there are about seven draft Lambics—this is the flat, unblended, youngish stuff. Play yourself into the morning of drinking with one of these. The people serving will disappear behind a door, presumably into a magic cellar of dusty, delicious old beers (I wish I’d asked to see it now), returning with your glass or bottle. As for the bottles, the list is enormous: there’s Gueuze and fruited Lambic/Gueuze (conveniently they colorcode the fruit beers on the menu) in a mix of 13fl-oz (37.5-cl) and 26fl-oz (75-cl) bottles. Then there’s an extensive selection of vintage bottles—you’ll find many beers over a decade old, some from the 1990s or earlier, with bottles arriving on tables with the labels faded and disintegrating. There was also, seemingly, an unlimited supply of Westvleteren (see post 139), with some drinkers fancying something non-sour as a change-up. It’ll be overwhelming because you’ll want to drink everything. And there’s excellent cheese, too, if this place wasn’t already perfect.

The bar is about 12 miles (20km) west of Brussels, but it’s easy to get to: from Brussels Gare de l’Ouest, jump on the 128 bus and ride it for about 30 minutes, then it’s a five-minute walk. On that stroll you still won’t believe what’s coming because you’re just passing houses and trees, and it’s very quiet. When you see the big church tower you know you’re almost there. But you still won’t believe what you’ll see when you go inside, because on a Sunday morning in this sleepy town, there will be dozens of people sitting inside sharing amazing bottles of beer.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime beer experience. Go in a group so you can share big bottles.

Take as much money as you can (it’s cash only and you will want to buy bottles that cost upward of € 30). Arrive at 10am, maybe earlier, drink incredible and rare Lambics, picking vintage bottles you’ll never see again, and know that you’re in one of the world’s greatest, most uniquely brilliant beer bars. They will ensure that your great thirst is sated—though you’ll still want to go back for more.

The Lowdown

WHAT: The world’s best Iambic bar

HOW: Open on Sundays only, 10am—1:30pm (www.dorst.be). WHERE: Frans Baetensstraat 45, 1750 Lennik, Belgium

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