I was chatting with a friend here in Belgium today -- at first about work, but then, soon enough, about beer -- and he asked me exactly the same question Fiona and I have been grappling with lately: can you buy the less common Belgian beers online and have them delivered to your home?
There seems to be a gap in the market here in Belgium. Yes, we have online shopping from the bigger supermarkets, but they tend to have a very limited selection of beer. They stock about 20 or 30 varieties only, so if you want a mass-produced pils like Jupiler, Stella or Maes, or even if you want one of the more common Trappist beers
like Chimay Blue
, Westmalle Triple
, you can order online and have it delivered in bulk. But wander just a little outside the comfort zone of the major mega-marts, and you'll find they can't quench your thirst.
Now, there are web-based shops for the rarer Belgian beers catering to the export market with rather ridiculously inflated prices. Sorry, I can't afford six or seven US dollars per bottle plus shipping and handling for a St Bernardus Prior 8
that costs about one euro around the corner.
However, I can't get every bottle around the corner. I've got a handful of favourite small shops and non-chain supermarkets within striking distance of my home that are good for one beer or another. Plus, I'm always on the lookout when I'm in a different Belgian town for whatever reason.
Yet, the core problem remains: there are literally hundreds of Belgian beers I can't buy in shops here in the centre of Brussels, let alone get delivered to my home. What good is Belgium's beer diversity if I can't access it easily here in its native land?
Some will say the fun is in the chase. That's partially true: I do love finding a new beer in an unexpected place. And somehow I have tried some 150 or so beers already, and every one over, say, 50 or 60 is not exactly common, so it is possible.
But what about those times when I want to have a beer tasting with a few friends, and we want to go off the beaten path a bit? What can be done? Is there some service I don't know about? Answers to this question warmly welcome...