The ABCD's (or ACDB's) of Beer: Amsterdam Cologne, Dusseldorf & Brussels
September 11 - 21, 2014
Join us on a classic odyssey of beer styles and European languages and cultures!
Start in lively Amsterdam for some better-than-you-would-expect beer locales. Travel via rail to little known Nijmegen to see an innovative brewpub and then on to well known Cologne, Germany for a look at life among the Kolners. After a thorough investigation of German "small serving" ales, we head to Brussels, Belgium. Belgium is beer heaven and you will soon know why, as we look up some old friends for some special visits! Along the way, explore and enjoy several distinct languages and styles of beer and the great cities where they grew up. Mega Lagers and a refreshing number of emerging Dutch craft brewers, Kolsch in Cologne, Alt in Dusseldorf, Lambic and the cornucopia of Belgian selections in Flanders and Wallonia, all await. Each city offers centuries of history, great architecture, vibrant European culture... and really great places to drink beer. Stay in fine, well located hotels in each city. Enjoy locally guided city tours, brewery visits, and great beer meals. Travel by convenient public transportation, private Beer Bus and excellent European rail.
See Trip Pictures
Thursday, September 11 - Travel to Amsterdam, Netherlands
Safe Travels! Some folks like to arrive a day or more early to "prepare" for the trip! There is a lot to do and see in Amsterdam, so an extra night or two might be worth it...
Friday, September 12 - Amsterdam Walking Tour, Beer Dinner
Arrive in Amsterdam and settle into our hotel in the heart of the historic city center. This afternoon, we'll meet in the hotel lobby for a short city tour and cafe exploration before our Welcome beer dinner in friendly and beery confines. (Dinner)
Saturday, September 13 - Amsterdam Beer Day
On the schedule today: a visit to Amsterdam's own Brouwerij t'Ij to see their small brewery and taste their nice assortment of local Amsterdam ales. The remainder of the day is free to explore Amsterdam's many attractions, bars, cafes, cultural sites, museums and curiosities. This evening we'll have a focused all DUTCH beer tasting with a local expert and publican who owns 2 bars in Amsterdam, one featuring all Dutch beers, the other showcasing America IPAs! (B, T)
Sunday, September 14 - To Nijmegen, De Hemel Visit, Beer Lunch
Travel by rail this morning to Nijmegen, The Netherlands' oldest city. Upon arrival we'll drop bags at the hotel and reconvene to visit the city's brewery, De Hemel, which proudly limits its distribution to the immediate surroundings. We will have a brewery tour, learn about other beer-derived prducts, and have a chance to taste all their beers and eat lunch in their fine cafe. The evening is free to explore the city and its several notable beer cafes. Overnight in Nijmegen. (B, L)
Monday, September 15 - La Trappe Lunch, Kolsch Tour, Beer Dinner
This morning, we board the Beer Bus bound for Cologne, but, along the way we will stop at the Netherland's sole Trappist brewer, Koenigshoeven/La Trappe. We will tour the lovely grounds, taste all the beers, and enjoy a brewer's lunch. Continue to Cologne. Upon arrival, settle into our hotel in the heart of the historic city center. This afternoon, we'll meet in the hotel lobby for a Walking Kolsch/city tour. A local guide will show us the Altstadt, we will learn some history, and stop for a couple tasty Kolsch along the way. After the tour we will enjoy our a beer dinner of typical Kolner fare in a traditional Brauhaus. (B, L, D)
Tuesday, September 16 - Dusseldorf Daytrip
Travel up the Rhine to Cologne's somewhat similar, rival city -- Dusseldorf, where we will visit an Alt brewery and learn the ins and outs of one of Germany's few ales. Enjoy a traditional lunch in an alt lodge, accompanied by perfectly conditioned altbier to wash it down. The afternoon is free to spend some time in another historic alt lodge or two (or six). Return to Cologne this evening. (B, L)
Wednesday, September 17 - Free day in Cologne
A full day to spend as you wish in one (or two) of Germany's great cities. The Dom, the old city, and many markets offer a wealth of options. Small pods of Kolsch seekers may spontaneously ferment. (B)
Thursday, September 18 - To Brussels via Brouwerij Kerkom
This morning we are back on the Beer Bus to travel to Brussels, but along the way we will stop to visit the excellent small brewery in St. Truiden - Kerkom, producer of the Bink family of beers. After a look around this old coaching inn, brown cafe, and evolving brewery, we'll enjoy a simple lunch. Next we continue to Brussels (stocked with some of the world's best beers). After time to check-in we'll meet a local guide for a walking tour/cafe crawl to get oriented in this ecclectic European capital. This evening we'll have a special beer tasting at Moeder Lambic. Dinner options and many great Brussels beer bars await evening exploration. (B, L, T)
Friday, September 19 - Mystery Brewery Daytrip
We're keeping today open for a special event. We have a few plans in the works that can't be confirmed just yet, but we will know for sure by the time final itineraries are sent to trip participants. For now it is a mystery! Rest assured, today will be a great opportunity to get a unique view of the brewing process of a fine Belgian Beer or two. (B, L)
Saturday, September 20 - AM Cantillon Tour, PM free
Cantillon's cob-webbed brewery awaits our exploration this morning as we go to the source of true lambic. We will learn the finer points of production, tour the brewery and taste all the beers available. The remainder of the day is free to explore Brussels until our Farewell beer dinner to celebrate a great trip for a good cause! (B, D)
Sunday, September 21 - Return home
Alas, we must leave beer heaven. Our hotel is very close to the rail station for train transfers to Brussels Airport or Amsterdam for flights home. (B)
The overall style of the trip is best suited for somewhat adventurous, beer-loving travelers who want the camaraderie and structure of a tour, as well as the opportunity to explore independently. Planned events and excursions will, for the most part, be informal. Guided touring is generally the exception, though travelers can always rely on the support and assistance of the trip leader.
* Please note also:
This itinerary is subject to change based on brewery or hotel availability, force majeur, acts of dieties, common sense or bad weather, etc. Smaller breweries, as well as the Trappists, are often unable to commit to hosting groups until a couple of weeks before we arrive. Substitutions, when necessary, will be as good or better than what we replaced. And, don't worry, the beer is always good!