Just before Christmas, my girlfriend and I spent a long weekend in Bruges. Before our trip, I’d read a lot about Belgian beers, and the best bars in which to drink them.
During my research, I kept reading about a bar called De Garre, and its exclusive house beer, Tripel De Garre. This beer seemed to have gained an almost legendary reputation. So on our first full day in Bruges, we set out to find it.
Finding De Garre isn’t easy; the bar lies down a dark, narrow, non-descript alley just off a busy shopping street in the heart of Bruges. There are no signs or advertisements nearby, or anywhere in Bruges as far as we could tell.
To enjoy this wonderful beer, you have to either: be incredibly lucky and stumble upon the bar by accident; or you have to do your homework and purposely seek it out.
De Garre can be found along the dark alley between these two shops.
This kind of location would spell disaster for many businesses, but De Garre was full of merry drinkers each time we went there. On one occasion we were turned away because the bar (which stretches over three stories) was at capacity.
Judging from the online reviews, many of their visiting patrons come specifically for the house beer. And what a beer it is!
I lack the palate and the vocabulary to convey the beauty of Tripel De Garre in words. Other people are far better equipped to sing the praises of this beer than I am.
All I’ll say is that it’s heavenly – one of my all-time favourite beers. It was so good that we returned to De Garre several times during our short stay in Bruges.
De Garre’s success, despite it being practically hidden got me thinking about craftsmanship, success, and self-promotion.
These days we’re encouraged to develop and maintain brands for ourselves. We’re often expected to promote our personal brand relentlessly in the hope of being recognised for what we do. The prevalence of social media is due in no small part to its users’ fervent desire to self-promote.
Yet businesses like De Garre flourish by pouring all their energy into producing an exceptional product, eschewing self-promotion in favour of the undiluted pursuit of excellence. They don’t shout about what they do, they just do it, and do it well.
I think there’s something noble about that.