Posted by: travelrat | September 28, 2012

Strong Henry

Before I start to tell about our visit to Bruges, I thought I’d first look back to a visit I made in the 90s. The first question I asked was why do we call it Bruges, when everybody here calls it Brugge? For some reason, we prefer the French version of place-names in Flanders, rather than the Dutch.

(I don’t think it’s correct to call the language ‘Flemish’ … a couple of times, I’ve been told ‘We are Flemish; we speak Dutch’.)

Anyway, the two place names caused us to put together a little ditty, which we sang (we were on our way back from a beer festival) to the tune of ‘Cosher Bailey’

‘Straffe Hendrik comes from Brugge,

He’s a nasty little bugger

But his brewery in Bruges

Is particularly huge.


Have you ever seen …? etc…’

Now, ‘Straffe Hendrik’ , or ‘Strong Henry’ is a locally-produced brew (and very nice it is, too) from De Halve Maan brewery in Bruges, and was named after its founder, Hendrik Maes. And, it was to there we made a bee-line, for two reasons. At the time, I was contributing to a (now sadly defunct) magazine called the Taste, devoted to beer and brewing. And, as they say in Scotland, it was ‘peshin doon’ … i.e. raining.

There’s a restaurant in the brewery, and one of Bruges’ many canals runs right past the window. Here we sat, eating a delicious lamb stew, watching the boats glide past, containing a few hardy tourists cowering under umbrellas and plastic ponchos … and feeling very smug.

After lunch, we went on the brewery tour; we ate first, because we had to wait for an English-speaking one. It was pretty well the same as any other brewery tour … apart from the view of the city from the roof. That really is something!

And, why this stroll down Memory Lane? Well, on our latest visit, we stuck our noses into De Halve Maan … and immediately retreated! In the bright sunlight, it just looked so shabby, we didn’t want to eat there. And, I wondered … have they let the place go over the years, or, in the weather conditions of my first visit, did it maybe look more welcoming than it actually was?



  1. Love that ditty. Sounds a bit like a sea shanty. I also love the image of the plastic ponchos. LOL.

    • I have to admit I was feeling rather smug about the ponchos … I was in the warm and dry, and had my Peter Storm watchcoat and Akubra hat for when I went outside.

      But, we had some really nice weather for our latest visit, which I shall post about next.

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