Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Toer de Geuze & LambicLand 2024

Thursday 02 May 2024 - Monday 06 May 2024

This is our classic tour exploring the world's most complex beers, the lambic beers of the Zenne Valley, west of Brussels. It is a five day, four night Tour guided by Siobhan McGinn, co-writer with her husband Podge and Tim Webb of the definitive book LambicLand (2004, 2010). Siobhan's expertise in Belgium's quirky spontaneous fermented beers goes back over 30 years and she will take you to the best lambic cafes in LambicLand to sample this unique beer style. Welkom Dworp

Thirsty work at Cafe In de Welkom, Dworp.

De Zwaan Dworp April 2013

De Zwaan Dworp April 2013

The tour co-incides with the now-famous bi-annual lambic brewer/blender open days, the Toer de Geuze now held over two days on the weekend of Saturday 04 & Sunday 05 May 2024.

We are based in Chelmsford in Essex and we use Le Shuttle (Eurotunnel) from Folkestone to get to and from Belgium in our UK hired coach. Most of our Travellers join the Tour at our main pick up point outside The Woolpack Pub, 23 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN and most come from other parts of the UK, and some from further afield, especially USA. Lots of our Travellers stay the night before a Tour (and often the night of our return) at Chelmsford Travelodge only a few minutes walk from The Woolpack or at the Premier Inn near the Railway Station, about a 10 minute walk to the pick up point at The Woolpack. We all usually pop in to The Woolpack the night before departure for a meet, greet and a few beers with Siobhan who is your Tour Manager, Tour Guide and drinking pal for the duration.

Our Galloways luxury coach (49 seater coach with toilet) starts from Suffolk and on the way to Folkestone (or occasionally Dover) picks up at several points, as agreed with Siobhan, as below:

Ipswich, Bus Stop, Tesco Store, Pinewood, Ipswich IP8 3TS.

Colchester, McDonald's, Tollgate West, Stanway, Colchester C03 8RG

Chelmsford, The Woolpack, 23 Mildmay Road, CM2 0DN.

Dartford, BP Garage (formerly Esso) 474 Princes Road, DA1 1YT. On the return leg we drop off at Dartford Railway Station DA1 1DR

Swanley, Unit 4, Moreton Industrial Estate, London Road, BR8 8DE.

Ashford, pull in Outside Dobbies Garden Centre, Opposite Premier Inn, Ashford Eureka Leisure Park, Rutherford Road, Ashford, Kent, TN25 4BN.

Folkestone, Shell Garage, Stop 24 Services, J11, M20, Kent, CT21 4BL.

Stationsplein, Adinkerke, Belgium.

The crossing times we usually go for are the 10.50hr Le Shuttle (Eurotunnel) from Folkestone and the 19.50hrs from Calais, so we arrive back in Folkestone at 19.30hrs UK time.

This Tour is currently being built, with details of proposed visits set out below. Keep an eye on this web page or subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for updates - there is a form to do this at the foot of this page. The final detailed and timed itinerary will be posted here at least four weeks prior to departure. If you would like to join us please send Siobhan an email or call on +44 (0) 7722 724 558 for details on how to secure a place and pay the £165pp deposit for this Tour, or if you have any questions about this Tour. Should your plans change, we are happy to return your deposit to you in full provided the date of the return request is more than six weeks before the departure date of the Tour.

Oude Beersel Geuze

Oude Beersel Geuze

Day 1 - Thursday 02 May 2024

06.15hr Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN.

08.00hr Coach pick up at Premier Inn, Eureka Leisure Park, Rutherford Road, Ashford TN25 4BN.

08.30hr Arrive Folkestone Eurotunnel.

10.20hr Eurotunnel Train crossing from Folkestone (to be confirmed)

12.00hr Arrive Calais.

13.15hr Arrive at our first stop, ‘T Potje Pate, in the village of Alveringem. This is a long-standing quality butchers and café. Much of their traditional Flemish food is home produced, and the beers are local. We’ll stop here for a meal and our first Belgian beer.

15.00hr Leave ‘T Potje Pate, in Alveringem.

16.15hr Arrive at the brilliant ‘t Jagershof deep in the woods in Aalter. We first visited this hunters lodge a year or so ago, and the beer place was huge, and the beer list was huge! Hard to find, hard to leave this one. A sylvan gem.

17.45hr Leave ‘t Jagershof in Aalter.

18.45hr Arrive in Aalst and make our way to the centrally located luxury four star Hotel Keizershof. Travellers have the evening free to explore the cafes, bars and restaurants of Aalst armed with Podge’s Aalst Bar Guide and Map*. 3Fonteinen Oude Geuze Bottles 37.5cl having a rest

3Fonteinen Oude Geuze Bottles 37.5cl having a rest.

Day 2 - Friday 03 May 2024

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* we leave the hotel by coach for a look into the mysteries of lambic beers:

10.30hr First call of the day is to Bierhandel Dekoninck in Buizingen (Halle). This is a big beer warehouse right in the heart of the Payottenland, and offer a selection of lambic beers plus what we might call ‘ordinary special’ beers for taking home and savouring later.

11.30hr Leave Bierhandel Dekoninck in Buizingen.

11.40hr Arrive at Den Herberg, a pub and lambic brewery in Buizingen. They were admitted as members of HORAL (Hoge Raad voor Ambachtelijke Lambikbieren or High Council for Traditional Lambic Beers) in 2022. Herberg translates as 'The Inn' and is run by the Devillé family.

The family bought this vacant property in Buizingen in 2000 and Bart went to brewing school. At first he produced small batch top-fermented home brewed beers. This hobby soon grew and took over the space they had originally bought as a storage unit for their construction business. As the property was an old disused café with a banqueting hall at the back they created a brewery and reopened the café in 2007. They also had seven children. In February 2008 Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours did a brewery visit here when they were brewing a blonde, amber and wheat beer.

Because the café was located only 150m from the Senne river in the Payottenland they decided to expand Den Herberg’s beer range with own-brewed lambic. They started brewing lambic in 2017 and released their first geuze in 2020. They have a farm with an orchard of 400 Schaarbeekse cherry trees which they plan to use in fruit lambics in the near future. Den Herberg’s current beer range consists of top-fermented, bottom-fermented, mixed-fermentation beers, lambic, and geuze. So you can try their ordinary bottled beers or the following:

Cuvée Devillé is a mixed fermentation beer fermented with top-fermenting yeast and wild yeast. It makes the perfect bridge towards the true lambic beers,

Oude Lambiek Devillé is an 18-24 month old unblended lambic, with no carbonation, from a bag-in-box.

Oude Geuze Devillé available in 37.5cl bottles. Only 10% goes for export, so try some here.

13.00hr Leave Den Herberg in Buizingen.

13.15hr We will have lunch at Grill-Resto Boelekewis in Beersel. This is a long-standing excellent restaurant which we haven’t visited for a while, and they still have over 100 beers on the menu, including loads of lambic beers obvs.

15.15hr Leave Grill-Resto Boelekewis in Beersel.

15.30hr Arrive at the 3Fonteinen Brewery “Lambic O Droom” in Lot. This place opened in 2016 by legendary brewer and blender Armand Debelder, who sadly passed away in 2022. He was the heart of lambic beer, and Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours visited him at his old premises in Beersel many times. He and his business partners, who have run the place for a couple of years, converted a former ice cream warehouse in Lot into a new complex designed to centralise the breweries operations and allow visitors to see the end-to-end processes of Lambic beer making. It houses a coolship, blending facilities, barrel-ageing rooms, a bottling plant, a bar, tasting rooms and a shop.

In 2016 when they moved they also started using two colours of bottles: green for blends containing wort brewed at other breweries, and brown for blends containing wort brewed solely by 3 Fonteinen. Not sure if this is still in operation. In 2019, 3 Fonteinen left membership of HORAL and no longer bought wort from Boon, but began to take wort from De Troch. Also in 2020 they acquired wort from Lambiek Fabriek as well as De Troch.

We visited in 2017 and 2019 and hopefully the Schaerbeek cherry orchard is coming now producing fruit as it were. Though their 3Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek is a premium price, it is counted by many as one of the world's great beers. They are interested in sourcing old strains of grain from local farmers and have developed a programme for the local sourcing of more Schaerbeek cherries. They are working with 75 families to grow, pick and source these awkward little buggers from their gardens. They also gave away 100 of their first root cuttings to anyone with a garden as long as they can track the trees. These are not standard grafted cherry trees, mind, they are a wild variant, a low-stemmed bushy tree which must be harvested manually. We’ll have a settle down in their tasting room and Siobhan will buy everyone a lambic beer*. You’ll get a chance to have a wander around and taste these spectacular beers inspired by a great man.

17.00hr Leave 3Fonteinen Lambic-O-Droom in Lot.

17.15hr We pay a visit to the fantastic new/old Bierhuis Oud Beersel, reopened in 2022, the brewery tap of the Oud Beersel Brewery a few doors down. They offer a wide range of beers of both traditional and innovative lambic beers, as well as their top and mixed fermentation Bersalis range. They have 12 taps! This is a historical lambic café which we used to visit on Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours before it closed 20 years ago. Gert Christiaens of Oud Beersel had long dreamed of acquiring this superb red & white tiled-front café and bought the place and it seems spent much of lockdown returning it to a working café. It looks very much like it did, and even still has the original wooden bar which survived it being a florist shop! I well remember an impressive huge round wood and ironwork table in the middle of the room, made from old foeders (barrels) where one of our travellers once proposed marriage – and amazingly it had been stored in pieces and is now back in place! For those of you who remember the stupendous Mortier (Antwerp made) 1927 Dance Organ, it got sold to an enthusiast in Kansas City years ago, but due to popular demand they have a big picture of it in the café and music from it is available to listen to!

18.30hr Leave Bierhuis Oud Beersel in Beersel.

19.00hr Arrive back in the friendly city of Aalst for a crack at its great beer cafes and restaurants.

Wooden casks of Boon lambic beer.

Day 3 - Saturday 04 May 2024

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* we leave the hotel by coach for the first of the official biennial HORAL Toer de Geuze days. Over the years the Toer de Geuze has attracted more and more people and each venue gets quite crowded with people enjoying these open days and beers. We hope to have about an hour and a half at each venue and will announce exact times to be back on the bus on the day. At most of the venues you can buy a snack to eat on the hoof. For each Toer de Geuze all of the members of HORAL contribute towards a special Oude Geuze beer brewed for the occasion and you should see bottles for sale at each of the venues of HORAL Mega Blend.

10.45hr Arrive at the most southerly member of the traditional geuze and kriek makers, Tilquin in Bierghes (Rebecq). Run by relative newcomer Pierre Tilquin who used to work at Cantillon in Brussels. You can have a tour of his blendery and barrel rooms. His beers will be for sale at the bar and you can buy bottles to take away at the shop. They have food stalls and a bouncy castle. Look out for:

• Oude Gueuze à l'ancienne. The proper stuff. Currently the only commercial geuze on the market to contain lambic from Cantillon.

• Gueuze Tilquin (Draught Version). You need to know that this is 50% lambic blended with a low alcohol lambic beer called Meerts from Boon. No 3-year-old lambic is used in the draught version. 5.3%abv.

• Quetsche à l'ancienne a lambic with Plums, refermented in the bottle and

• Mûre à l'ancienne - blackberry lambic refermented in the bottle.

• Gueuzérable – geuze with maple syrup.

Tilquin don’t do a kriek beer but use various experimental fruits from time to time.

12.15hr Leave Tilquin in Bierghes.

12.30hr Arrive at probably the biggest lambic, Geuze and Kriek producer, Boon Brewery in Lembeek. The great Frank Boon retired aged 67 a couple of years ago, and has passed the brewery to his two sons Karel & Jos, who grew up there. Frank took over the brewery/blending business of the great René De Vits at the age of 21 in 1975. Rene made only 25,000 litres of geuze each year – Boon makes twice that every day now. Try their Black Label Geuze which they have been making since 2016 and for which they win awards regularly. For the Black Label series they select lambic with a high degree of final fermentation which ensures a dry aftertaste. Look out for their new beer Apogee (High Point) which is a limited edition Oude Geuze created by Frank Boon, bottled in 2019, created by blending lambic from their oldest and their youngest foeder. They also do Vat numbered beers which are geuzes made from a single barrel. Personally I love the Frambozen and will be partaking. Lush.

14.00hr Leave Boon Brewery in Lembeek.

14.15hr We are paying our first ever visit to a new lambic producer, who are not even a member of HORAL! This is Het Boerenerf in Huizingen. It is a working organic farm with Highland Cattle run by the Eylenbosch family (distant relations of the Brouwerij Eylenbosch in Schepdaal, now Kobbegem). The family here are fifth generation and there used to be a lambic brewery here and blender Senne Eylenbosch has brought the tradition back. The old Eylenbosch (Huizingen) brewery was located down the street but had ceased brewing in 1965. By 2008 the remaining brewery buildings were converted into flats, and the Eylenbosch family continued to operate the farm and dairy. Senne Eylenbosch worked at Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen until 2019, then began blending lambic wort from some of the main producers at his grandparents farm. The first release of beer was in 2021 and their beers are distinctly local and fruity. They like to use their own beetroot, quince, fruits produced on their farm, or nearby, so the beer range does depend on what is around. In 2022 Het Boerenerf released an oude geuze called Gueuze Erfgoed (which means ‘heritage’). Hopefully we can visit, have a look at his French oak barrels and have a bit of a tasting*.

15.30hr Leave Het Boernerf in Huizingen.

15.45hr Arrive at Lambiek Fabriek in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, one of the latest and growing lambic producers. They have their lambic coolship in the brewery yard, 12 feet up under a makeshift roof, but you need ladder access for a full view. Lambiek Fabriek started in 2026 with two local lads who wanted to make geuze. The bottle labels feature a rams skull. Very distinctive. Their beers are:

• Brett-Elle Oude Geuze. Their first beer. Early batches were a blend of 1- and 2-year old lambics with 4 year old lambic from a separate lambic producer.

• Fontan-Elle Young & Wild. Blended from is a selection of barrels containing 1- and 2-year old lambic chosen for their fruitier characteristics and bottled without the addition of older lambic. Only in 75cl bottles.

• Oude Geuze Bord-Elle - Traditional unfiltered blend of home-brewed lambics. Made with different vintages of lambic, aged in oak barrels.

• Natur-Elle Organic Geuze. Certified organic.

• Oude Kriek – Schar-Elle – lambic with six months maceration of Schaarbeekse cherries.

• Oude Kriek Jart-Elle – Cherry beer

• Juicy & Wild Black-Belle – Black currant beer

• Juicy & Wild Muri-Elle – blackberry lambic

• Juicy & Wild Muscar-Elle - aged on macerated Muscaris grapes sourced in Belgium

• Colon-Elle – Single & Wild – lambic matured in Bourbon barrels for 18 months.

There are loads more to choose from…including a Rhubarb lambic…

17.15hr Leave Lambiek Fabriek in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw.

17.30hr We pay a visit to another brand new lambic producer - Brouwerij Kestemont in Schepdaal/Dilbeek This is another place which has sprung up on historical lambic roots. In 2019 Brouwerij Kestemont opened on the site of the old Brouwerij Goossens, which building still exists and has a protected monument status. The Kestemont family bought the site in 2016 and Francis (an organic farmer) and his son Lias began planning. Lias was a self-taught home brewer. They began by having wort brewed at Den Herberg and transferred here the next day when it had cooled. It was then aged for up to three years and blended. They installed their own brewery here in 2021. Like Het Boerenerf, most of the fruit in their beers are grown on site, such as strawberries and raspberries and the much sought after Schaerbeek cherries. All beers are certified organic. They have produced over a dozen lambic beers and will have an Oude Geuze too. They are currently creating a new taproom/bar and terrace for people to visit and have a beer tasting, so we’ll go for that, then.

19.00hr Leave Brouwerij Kestemont in Schepdaal/Dilbeek.

19.30hr Arrive back in the friendly city of Aalst for a little lie down or a night out. Lambic Fermentation - One to Three Years in Wood

Lambic Fermentation - One to Three Years in Wood

Day 4 - Sunday 05 May 2024

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* we leave the hotel by coach for the second and last of the official HORAL Toer de Geuze days:

10.30hr Arrive at the famed In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst (The Insurance Against Thirst) in Eizeringen run by the Paneels family who re-opened this gorgeous café in 2000 and have an unrivalled selection of lambics, geuzes and krieks. They have plenty of vintage beers and hopefully they still have some Eylenbosch left from the closed lambic brewery down the road (I know I have!) and some from the newly risen Brouwerij Eylenbosch, the latest member of HORAL. Look out for unusual lambics especially those from

•Bofkont (Lucky Dog) Kontich, south of Antwerp (so not LambicLand). A chap called Sam has been blending lambic in his cellar with fruit, aging it in oak barrels and bottling it. Named after his toy dog which he found in the attic when tidying up and looking for a name for his beers.

•Bokke, from Hasselt in Limburg. (also not LambicLand). Lambic blender Raf Souvereyns works under the name Bokke (formerly Methode Goat, then Bokkereyder) since 2013, far from the Zenne valley. You'll recognise his bottles from the logo of a goat hiding behind a tree. Raf worked previously in a winery, and so uses local fruit in his blends: grapes, cherries, raspberries, and apricots.

•Antidoot Wilde Fermenten, Kortenaken Flemish Brabant. Brewers and blenders who like to experiment with wild fermentation.

12.00hr Leave In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst.

12.15hr Arrive at De Cam in Gooik. This is a tiny blender and is a good one to pick if you want a mini tour. Karel Goddeau, the master blender is passionate about lambic beer and I would say that his Raspberry Lambic was the best beer I have ever tasted, a few years ago in the yard at De Cam.

13.45hr Leave De Cam in Gooik.

14.15hr Arrive at Hanssens in Dworp. There will be a chance to try rare beers from this blender including Hanssens Lambic Cassis, Hanssens Lambic Raspberry and Hanssens Kriek Lambic Schaerbeekse (in limited quantities) for tastings and purchases. The Oudbeitje strawberry beer is and always has poured ‘flat as a witches ***’ as the Burnley saying goes. It’s just like that! I have always thought their beers in the top two lambic beers ever since I first tasted it about 25 years ago when the bottles had no labels, just a white chalk paint stripe for geuze and a pink one for the Kriek, which would come off when you handled the bottle.

15.45hr Leave Hanssens in Dworp.

16.15hr Call in at Fiets- en wandelcafé (Bike & Walking Café) Paddenbroek in Gooik. Another new one for our Tours. This is a joy – a new lambic café! When Podge and I were researching for our book LambicLand in 2003, we genuinely thought it would be a swan song for lambic, and our job was to record for posterity a dying beer style and cafes. But YAAY, here’s a big, new one. This venture seems to have interestingly encased an old building in a big glass one. It has a huge outdoors area for cyclists and wandeling. Vast amounts of lambic beers are sold here, including draughts. Roel Janssens runs this place, and he is the nephew of Bart Devillé (De Herberg). Thus, he promotes Den Herberg beers and reckons they have an oaky nose. He says their geuze has a nice balanced acidity, is very refreshing and is the best-selling geuze here. 130 beers on the card with 7 on tap. We’ll rest here for a bit, then.

18.00hr Leave Café Paddenbroek in Gooik.

18.30hr Arrive back in Aalst for a free evening on the tiles town.

De Cam Geuze & Kriek Blenders, Gooik.

Day 5 - Monday 06 May 2024

10.00hr After breakfast* check out of hotel. Coach leaves for our last day.

Siobhan is still working on visits for this day, but it will include at least two stops, one for a meal.

Tour Price is £965 per person sharing a twin or double room

Single Supplement: £285

We regret that we need to charge a single supplement for travellers who would like their own hotel room. This is because increasingly hotel room prices are quoted with very little difference between single person or two person occupancy.

Included in the cost of this Tour are:

Hotel accommodation and breakfasts;

Hotel city taxes;

Luxury coach travel on a 49 seater coach with toilet;

All brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings;

Entrance fees to attractions, museums and historical sites;

All items marked with an asterisk above and on the individual detailed tour itinerary when issued;

Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guides and Maps for the town where we stay or spend some time;

Still and sparkling water on the coach;

Pick up from one of our agreed joining points on the way to Folkestone or even on the other side of the channel.

Courier Services from Siobhan McGinn, your Tour Guide.

Travellers are responsible for the costs of all food and drink apart from items marked with an asterisk on the detailed itinerary plus all passport and insurance costs.

All itinerary times are local and approximate.

Personal insurance is not included in the Tour price but is required to be taken out by Travellers on Podge's Belgian Beer Tours, as is carrying the free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is the 2021 replacement for the old EHIC. You can still use your EHIC card so long as it is in date, then you need to apply for the GHIC replacement online.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.