Wine, beer and stories: Meet Ghent’s B-Bar

Summary

The ‘B’ is for Belgium at Ghent newest bar, which stocks only home-grown drinks and food

Escape time

Quietly perched on the side of the canal in the Kuiperskai area of Ghent, B-Bar exudes an atmosphere of relaxation that can be felt even before stepping inside. Newly opened, it’s the first bar in town to offer exclusively Belgian products, ranging from wine and beer to vodka and food.

Yes, you read that correctly. Belgian vodka.

It labels itself a wine bar, but that’s a bit like calling the ocean water. A larger story takes shape as the owner, Benoit Dubrulle, tells me what lies at the foundation of B-Bar.

Opened last month, B-Bar is a joint project of Benoit, who brews the beer Crabbelaer, and Jonas and Jens De Maere, owners of Belgian Wines. They combined their strengths, and B-Bar was born, dedicated to bringing some of the country’s lesser-known gems out of obscurity.

There are more than 50 wines on the menu. With limited land and resources, Belgian winemakers have been forced to learn the hard way, says Dubrulle, resulting in wines very different from other European appellations. Belgium puts variety above all else. As does B-Bar. Barman Tim sums up B-Bar’s philosophy: “We try not to put the emphasis on what we like but instead encourage everybody to taste everything.”

The 40-something Dubrulle says he speaks for his entire generation when he says that Ghent lacked an “in-between” sanctuary – a haven for those trying to escape time, stress and worries. But more importantly, a place they can feel a sense of community. Even the minimalistic interior design is based on this mission – to not to take attention away from the simple exercise of relaxing.

B-Bar is very concerned with telling the stories behind the wines they offer. The lower floor’s racks are slowly filling up with bottles people can pick up and feel, and buy if they want. Visitors can look up any of the wines in a Belgian wine compendium they keep at hand for those who want to know where their drinks came from, and why.

As for its one-and-only vodka, it comes from Van Hoo in Eeklo. B-Bar also sports a cosy terrace right on the canal, offers brunch on weekends and hopes to kick off tasting and food-pairing classes as soon as next month.