Sunday, August 21, 2005


Belgian Beer Cafés: In den Spytighen Duvel, Turnhout

One of the truly great things about travelling in Belgium is that you can get around to almost every little place by means of public transport.
Which is definitely an advantage when exploring the Belgian beer café scene. The Belgians themselves may still be slightly more relaxed about taking a beer and driving, which may be just another good reason for taking the train.

Tim Webb's splendid Good Beer Guide Belgium will probably make you visit not so obvious spots on the Belgian map. In this case, his book enticed me to go to Turnhout - the destination was In den Spytighen Duvel- the spiteful devil.

Less than 39,000 souls populate this little town on the outskirts of Antwerpen province, close to the Dutch border. Not really a tourist spot, I did the place as an afternoon trip from Antwerpen.

The IR g train- IR meaning interregio, inter-region, usually a bit slower than inter-city, IC, trains leave Brussels South station at x.14 in the weekdays, passing by Mechelen and Lier and arriving in Turnhout some 72 minutes later. In the weekend the IR g train leaves from Antwerpen Centraal instead at x.56, arriving in Turnhout after 52 minutes travel. Going there from Antwerpen on a weekday (note that the café is closed on Mondays, though) I had to connect in Lier.

It is actually a good 15 minute walk from the station, which you may keep in mind if you have to catch the last train at 22.34 on weekdays and as early as 21.12 on weekends. There are few good reasons for being stuck at this outpost overnight- as a border town it may well attract more than its fair share of dubious individuals. Attractions other than the beer café are few, despite a glorious history, having been the seat of government.

And the Spytighen Duvel itself? Not bad for such a small place with some 300 quality beers on the menu. Moreover, the atmosphere is relaxed and the owner (seemingly a one-man shop) takes his time to pour the beer in a proper fashion for you, in the correct glasses and at not-too-cold temperatures. The only thing lacking was that special beer, aged or not, that is not available elsewhere. But such a sour remark on this fine establishment makes me sound like a spiteful devil...

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