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Farmhouse Ales of Belgium and France

Next Departure: May 23 - June 2, 2013
Departs every year in May/June

Northern France and southern Belgium share a meandering, often invisible border that traverses one of the worthiest beer regions on earth. Biere de Garde, Trappists, and Saison producers are all well represented in this compact area. We begin and end in Brussels -- with stays in the windmill capped, hill-top city of Cassel, France; beautiful, untouristed Tournai; and Bouillon -- in the shadow of one of Europe's finest examples of fortified castles. Small breweries with eager brewmasters, traditional Flemish estaminets with great local food and beers, and a selection of worthy cultural sites await. Don't worry if you've haven't heard of these small artisanal breweries, that's why they're so good!

 

Daily Itinerary*:

Day 1, Thursday - Travel Day

Fly to Europe

Day 2, Friday - Walking Tour/Pub Crawl, Welcome Dinner

Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel near the bustling Grand Place of Brussels. This afternoon, meet the group for a walking tour/pub crawl en route to our Welcome Beer Dinner.

Day 3, Saturday - Brewery Visit with Lunch

This morning we depart Brussels to visit De Dolle brewery. We will have lunch at the cafe near Westvleteren, visit a pub in Poperinge and continue to Cassel, France for the night.

Day 4, Sunday - Two French Farm Brewers

You have the morning free to explore Cassel, a fortified town built on the highest hill in the area.  In the afternoon we will take a beer excursion to Thiriez brewery, a small brewery set in an old farmhouse.  We will return to Cassel for a local tour of the town and dinner at Estaminet 'T Kasteelhof atop Mont Cassel.

Day 5, Monday - La Choulette

Transfer today to Tournai, our home for the next three nights. On the way we will of course make a couple beer stops: this morning we will visit a brewery and have lunch. Afterwards we will continue towards Tournai with another brewery visit en route. Tonight is free in Tournai.

Day 6, Tuesday - Dupont, Vapeur, Dubuisson

This morning is free until our early afternoon tour of Brasserie Dupont, the quintessential farmhouse brewery. Later we'll head down the road to Pipaix to visit the living museum and steam brewery -- Brasserie A Vapeur. Tour, taste and dine in their historic environment.

Day 7, Wednesday - City Tour & Free Day

Morning guided tour of Tournai, including a bit of the city's rich history and architecture. The afternoon and evening are free to enjoy Belgium's untouristed, second oldest city.

Day 8, Thursday - Brewery visits en route to Bouillon

This morning we'll get back on the beer bus to transfer to Bouillon. On the way we'll visit fine brewery Abbaye des Rocs. Afterwards we'll travel the short way to Brasserie Blaugies where we'll enjoy a tour, tasting and lunch. Continue to Bouillon for overnight.

Day 9, Friday - Castles and Kayaking

Today is free to visit the great Crusader Godfrey de Bouillon's fortified castle and explore this lovely Ardennes vacation town. A pub crawl this evening is a likely scenario. An optional Kayak trip is available today.

Day 10, Saturday - Orval, Beer Museum Farewell Beer Dinner

This morning, we'll board the beer bus again and drive the short way to Orval, where we'll have a tour of the brewery, visit the public parts of the abbey grounds and drink their world-class ale in the local pub. Return to Brussels after the visit. The afternoon and evening are free until our farewell dinner in beer friendly environs.

Day 11, Sunday - End of the trip...

Alas, time to go home.

Beer Highlights
& Brewery Visits

Kerkom, Orval, Blaugies, Abbaye Des Rocs, La Choulette, Thiriez, Beck, Dupont, Vapeur, De Dolle... oh my!

Overnight Stays*

1 nights Brussels
2 nights Cassel
3 nights Tournai
2 nights Bouillon
1 nights Brussels

Included Tours

City Tours in Brussels and Tournai, Castle Visit Bouillon

Included Meals

9 Breakfasts

3 Lunches

3 Dinners

Trip Price
(Land-only, Based on double occupancy)

$2995 per person

Single Room add $535

Arrival & Departure

Trip Begins & Ends in Brussels, Belgium

Please Note:

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!