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A Cut Above, But Still Not Enough

belgianbeercafeA few months back I reported that Belgian Beer Cafe opened in the Edmonton International Airport. This corporate-owned Belgian themed restaurant  was a mildly interesting announcement at the time, but it hardly seemed worth making a beeline for it, especially because it is behind security. However, this weekend I had time to kill waiting for my plane (I will keep my destination a secret for the moment to tantalize you and make you want to come back soon – there WILL be posts!), I thought I might as well check it out.

My initial lukewarm response was well warranted, but the place has some value to it. True to form, most of the 10 tap lines are devoted to AB-Inbev products, including Keith’s and Keith Red, Kokanee Gold, Stella, Leffe and, oddly, both Hoegaarden and Shock Top. However, they also had Delirium Tremens, Gouden Carolus pluse a rotating feature tap which that day was Leifman’s Fruitesse. They do have 50 classic Belgian beer in the bottle, mostly the well-known imports (which doesn’t mean they aren’t high quality).

The bartender’s knowledge was better than expected. I pulled a Columbo and asked him to describe Gouden Carolus to me. He did an admirable job, offering evocative descriptions and framing its place in the Belgian family well. His pouring technique was passable but not stellar (when will bartenders learn to not allow the tap end to dip into the beer?).

The decor was muted but elegant, with a nod to traditional Belgian Beer cafes. The music was too loud, as a general observation (or maybe I am just getting old), but that is a bit beside the point. It certainly felt a sight more comfortable than the Chili’s or Montana’s that are the traditional Edmonton options.

Which leads me to my main thought about the place. It is a step (or two) above the other places in the Edmonton departure lounge. So in that respect it is a good thing. However, I still feel that we deserve more. A couple of decent taps and some over-priced bottles (which I appreciate is as much about the airport than this specific place) just doesn’t seem to make the grade anymore. The Edmonton scene is growing so fast, with new beer bars, new breweries and a general explosion of beer interest. We are craving real beer options. This place might have been applauded five years ago, but today it seems ho-hum.

If my flight ever gets delayed, I now have a place to spend the time without being forced to seriously consider drinking wine instead. But don’t take this an endorsement. I am still looking for something better.



2 comments to A Cut Above, But Still Not Enough

  • Graham

    Solid bottle selection with lots of Horizon Distributors products to make up for the ABInBev stuff. Pricey but about the same as any other ‘beer’ place in Edmonton for those bottles. Flight got delayed so a Rodenbach Grand Cru for 20 and change was fine by me. Now in ON and realizing just how insane the retail price differences are out here. The LCBO continues to up their game. I know they have the economy of scale thing but also making me seriously wonder where all the Alberta mark-ups are coming from.

  • Graham

    All in all better than I expected. It is an airport bar after all so your beer will be pricey regardless, but at least there are some tasty options now.

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