The Great Beers of Belgium
October 2 - 12, 2014 &
October 16 - 26, 2014
Departs every year in October
Belgium makes a strong case for being "beer heaven". From your first beer in Brussels until the last Antwerp, you will experience a wide variety of classic breweries and their great beers in optimum condition. Multi-night stays in Brussels, Brugge, and Antwerp; and an overnight pilgrimage to visit a couple of Trappist Breweries in southern Belgium, offer a variety of great beer and cultural experiences. There is plenty of time to explore on your own and take in Belgium's rich history and culture as well. Many great meals, visits to unique and historic breweries, transportation by rail, private coach and public means, fine hotels in great locations and more are built in to this trip. People have loved our past Belgium trips... this might be the best yet.
Space is limited to 15 travelers.
Day 1, Thursday - Travel Day
Your trip begins as you fly to Brussels, Belgium. Meals and overnight aloft.
Day 2, Friday - Walking Tour/Pub Crawl, Welcome Dinner
Upon arrival in Brussels, transfer to our hotel just steps from the Grand Place in the heart of Brussels. After time to settle we will meet in the hotel lobby for a walking/orientation tour of Brussels. Before our dinner this evening we will visit a couple famous cafes and bars to drink some great beer. Our dinner takes place at In t' Spinnekopke which is known for their cuisine a la biere. Overnight in Brussels. (Dinner)
Day 3, Saturday - Lambic Day, 2 Breweries, & Lunch
Today is Lambic Day! This morning we travel to Beersel, home of 3 Fonteinen a traditional family owned restaurant, brewery, and gueuze blender. We will take a great tour of the small brewery, before eating a traditional Belgian meal at their fine restaurant. Their fare emphasizes beer of course. After lunch we tour the historic lambic brewery at Cantillon, where they still brew using spontaneous fermentation in with open air fermentors. It is sight to see. You will also have a chance, of course, to taste the various beers they produce after the tour. This evening is free. Overnight in Brussels. (B, L)
Day 4, Sunday - Free Day in Brussels
Today is toatally free to enjoy and explore ecclectic Brussels. (B, L)
Day 5, Monday - to the Ardennes, Rochefort, & Beer Dinner in Bouillon
Today we journey south to the Ardennes, to begin our pilgrimage to Trappist Breweries. The first stop is Abbey de Notre Dame de St. Remy** in Rochefort, home of some of the world's finest ales. After some tasting, and a tour of the brewery and a bit of the abbey, we will be treated to a traditional Ardennes meal to be accompanied by Rochefort 6, 8, and 10. After lunch we continue to the lovely city of Bouillon with its impressive fortified chateau. There will be time explore the castle before dinner in our hotel. Overnight in Bouillon. (B, L, D)
Day 6, Tuesday - Orval, Chimay, Dupont -- Oh My!
After breakfast this morning, we load up the beer bus and travel west to Orval to enjoy their distinctive atmosphere and wonderfully bitter golden ale. We will tour the abbey and the brewery and make a stop at the brewery-tap just down the road to see the monks enjoying their craft and taste Orval's beer and cheese. Next we travel to Chimay for a late lunch in Chimay's restaurant. Our last stop is a visit to Les Caves dupont -- the brewery bar of the quintessential farmhouse brewery - Brasserie Dupont. After some time with the locals and a tasting of their many region products, we travel to Brugge where we spend the next three nights. Overnight in Brugge. (B, L)
Day 7, Wednesday - Walking Tour in Brugge, Free Time in Brugge
This morning we'll enjoy a locally guided tour of beautiful Brugge. The remainder of the day is free to explore beautiful medieval Brugge. Take a city tour, by canal boat, horse drawn carriage, local tour bus, or foot. There are dozens of great bars in close proximity to museums, cathedrals, parks and public squares. There are also a couple of local breweries and a brewing museum if you want more beer related activities. Tonight or tomorrow we will indulge in a gourmet beer meal at Erasmus, a restaurant offering courses paired with fine beers. Overnight in Brugge. (B)
Day 8, Thursday - Rodenbach Lunch
Today we visit a brewery that represents the turbulent and prestigious history of Belgian brewing: Rodenbach and Liefman's. Each brewery features museum-like historical aspects which add to the distinct character that can also be seen in their beers. The evening is free to enjoy our final night in Brugge. Overnight in Brugge. (B, D)
Day 9, Friday - Free Morning in Brugge, Antwerp Walking Tour/Pub Crawl
The day is free untill our 1:00 PM transfer to Antwerp for the final 2 nights of our trip. Brugge, Antwerp and Gent are all in close proximity and offer attractions, beer or otherwise, that are worth visits. This evening we will explore some of Antwerp's notable and historic bars. Overnight in Antwerp. (B)
Day 10, Saturday - Visit De Koninck, PM Free, Farewell Beer Seminar
This morning we will tour the De Koninck brewery. The afternoon is free. This evening we will have a farewell beer dinner. Overnight in Antwerp. (B, D)
Day 11, Sunday - Alas, time to go home.
Alas, we must leave beer heaven. Antwerp and Brussels are served by the same international airport, so a variety of transfer options will be available. (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!