Down a village lane, past high brick walls, imposing double doors lead into a suddenly cheerful, whitewashed courtyard. This farmhouse has been a brewery off and on since 1878. The latest incarnation dates to 1988 but retains a flavour of old traditions.
Brouwerij Kerkom, while small in scale, exports to connoisseurs globally. Yet its Bink beers are still best enjoyed within its irregular walls. Tourists and families on weekend outings fill the cafe tables in the cobblestoned courtyard when the sun shines. When it doesn't, they crowd around the snug wooden tables in the tasting room. Inside, the walls are busy with flowered paper, old photos and bric-a-brac, evoking the ambiance of a grandma's country kitchen.
An ornate ceramic tap attracts attention to the bar, where customers can ask for the brewer to chat about recipes or perhaps take an impromptu tour of the production line, scattered through the hodgepodge of connected buildings. Group visits can be organised in advance.
The townsfolk of Sint- Truiden easily identify with Bink, since the brand refers to their nickname, akin to "guy". The beer aficionado from anywhere appreciates the brews just as well. Best known are the blond and brown ales, smoothly balanced between an almost fruit-like sweetness and an herbal hop bitterness. The brewery has also issued a series of special concoctions, including Alardus, a brown touched up with spices and candy sugar.
Bloesem Bink, enlivened with a touch of honey and pear, is another attractive option when fair sunshine fills the terrace. By the hearthside in chillier weather, the Winterkoninkske warms from the inside with a deeper, molasses-like complexity, not to mention an 8% alcohol content. It's another reason not to get back in the saddle and leave this cosy rest stop.