Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 58 / Best of Belgian Beer Tour 2012

Thursday 1 March – Monday 5 March 2012

This superb Tour is an opportunity to taste some of the best beers from the greatest brewing country in the world. This trip is for both beginners and experienced beer travellers alike. The five-day Tour is based at the fantastic four star Hotel Keizershof in the centre of the beery town of Aalst.

Rodenbach brewery Dubisson brewery

Rodenbach Brewery, Roeselare & Dubuisson Brewery, Pipaix

Thursday 1 March 2012

05.15 Coach pick up at Crown Street layby, Ipswich.

05.45 Coach pick up Southway Layby, Colchester.

06.15 Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford.

06.50 Coach pick up Dartford Service Station, 474 Princes Rd, Dartford.

07.00 Coach pick up 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent.

07.50 Pick up at Stop 24, J11, M20, Kent.

09.20 Eurotunnel Train Crossing from Folkestone.

11.00 Arrive Calais.

12.00 Call in for a beer* with our friends at the award-winning Struise Brewery recently voted on Ratebeer as brewing 9 of the Top 100 Best Beers in Belgium.

13.30 Lunch is at ‘t Rusteel in Gullegem, home of the tiny Gulden Spoor Brewery and one of the best restaurants in West Flanders. Here we have an opportunity to eat and enjoy a beer from their excellent 300+ beer menu that includes their own Netebuk beer and others. They have a very attractive terrace and garden – keep an eye open for the Llamas.

16.30 We pay a visit to world-famous beer cuisine restaurant and bar Heeren van Liedekercke in Denderleeuw. We will have an opportunity to sample some great brews from their beer list, which also has over 300 beers.

19.00 Arrive at the luxury four star Keizershof Hotel in the centre of Aalst. Information about the excellent bars of Aalst will be provided by way of an updated Podge’s Aalst Bar Guide* and map.

Friday 2nd March 2012

10.00 Depart by coach from Keizershof Hotel, Aalst.

11.15 Our first brewery visit of the day takes us to the outstanding Brasserie Dupont in Tourpes, which dates 1844 and is situated within an old farm. Their original beer is Saison brewed in the winter, to be drunk in the following summer by the field workers. Their current beers include Saison Dupont and Moinette Blonde and a range of organic beers in their Bio range. We will have a Tour* and tasting*.

13.45 We arrive at Brasserie Dubuisson in Pipaix for our three course Troll & Bush meal prepared by the brewery using Dubuisson beers. This is followed by a guided full ‘Prestige’ Tour* of the brewery and cellars with the oak vats for maturation of Bush Prestige. After the tour we go to the tasting room and sample their Cuvée des Trolls 7%*, Bush Blonde 10.5%* Bush Ambrée 12%* and finally their premier beer, Bush Prestige 13%*, as well as a gift of a ‘Bush’ glass*.

17.30 Call in at the brand new tavern attached to Brasserie Ellezelloise in Ellezelles for an opportunity to taste their range of five beers, including the famous Hercule Stout 9%.

19.30 We pay a visit to In Den Doorn Slaghmuylder’s flagship hostelry in Ninove. Here we have a chance to experience their Bier Cuisine of Flemish Stew made with Belgian blue beef in a sauce prepared with Witkap Pater Dubbel, served with Frites and Vegetables. We will be able to try the full range of beers form the Slaghmuylder Brewery, including hopefully the seasonal Easter Beer, Slaghmuylder’s Paasbier 5.2%.

22.00 Return to Keizershof Hotel Aalst.

Struise Brewers St Sixtus Abbey

Struise Brewers, Oostvleteren & St Sixtus Abbey, Westvleteren

Saturday 3rd March 2012

09.45 Slightly earlier start to get us to Brussels.

10.45 Cantillon Public Brewing Session where we will have a guided tour* of the brewery in action, including a look at the lambic barrels used for maturing in this historic brewery based in the heart of Brussels, followed by a beer*.

13.15 Arrive at Alvinne Craft Beer Festival at their brand new brewery in Moen. This festival uniquely features some of the top brewers in Europe with an emphasis on quality UK craft breweries listed below:

  • Brouwerij Alvinne (Belgium)
  • Struise Brouwers (Belgium)
  • H.Ertie geuzesteker & lambic selection (Germany/Belgium)
  • Brouwerij De Molen (Netherlands)
  • Brouwerij Emelisse (Netherlands)
  • Fano Bryghus (Denmark)
  • Haandbryggeriet (Norway)
  • Hair of the Dog (USA)
  • Thornbridge (UK)
  • Marble (UK)
  • Dark Star (UK)
  • Hawkshead (UK)
  • London Brewers Alliance (UK)
  • Twickenham Fine Ales (UK)
  • Brew Wharf (UK)
  • Redemption (UK)

16.30 Call in at Brouwerij ‘t Gaverhopke for a Gaverbroodje (a giant flatbread sandwich) and a chance to try some of their beers. Their Bruin 12 has been favourably compared to Westvleteren 12.

18.00 Arrive at Den Hert café in Vichte for a beer* or two. This is the brewery tap for Brouwerij Verhaeghe the historic family brewers who make the iconic Flemish Brown beer Duchesse de Bourgogne and the real cherry beer Echte Kriek. This café is a proper Flemish bar offering all the breweries beers and set next-door to the beautiful moated Verhaeghe family seat.

19.30 Pop in for a Cnudde Bruin* or two at the unpretentious Café Casino in Eine, the Cnudde Brewery tap.

21.00 Arrive back at Keizershof Hotel Aalst.

Struise Brewers St Sixtus Abbey

Quintine Blonde, Ellezelles & ’t Rusteel, Gullegem

Sunday 4th March 2012

10.00 Depart by coach from Hotel Keizershof Aalst.

10.45 Stop at the friendly ABS Winksele beer warehouse to buy beers to take back to UK at great prices.

12.15 Call in at Brasserie Brouwershof, the Haacht Brewery Tap for a taste of the unfiltered Primus Yeast Beer, sent from the lower tank in the impressive Haacht Brewery over the road.

13.30 Lunch stop for our pre-booked beer cuisine meal at Het Anker Brasserie Mechelen, brewery tap for the mighty Het Anker Brewery. Here you can sample their beers from the Gouden Carolus Range, Lucifer and Maneblusser on draught and if we are lucky maybe some of their huge 10% Easter Beer.

16.30 Pay a visit to café In de Linde at Vlezenbeek where they have a huge beer menu which includes lots of lambics, all available Trappists and nine beers on draught.

18.00 Drop in at the fantastic In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst a café run by the lambic campaigning Paneel’s family, who are kindly opening especially for us. They have a superb collection of Lambic beers including some aged beers from the long defunct Eylenbosch Brewery down the road in Schepdaal.

20.00 Arrive back at Keizershof Hotel Aalst.

Gouden Carolus, Het Anker Cantillon Brewery

Gouden Carolus, Het Anker & Cantillon Brewery, Brussels

Monday 5th March

10.00 Depart Hotel Keizershof Aalst.

11.00 Arrive at the great Rodenbach Brewery makers of the definitive Flemish Bruin beers. We will have a full guided tour* of this beautiful brewery including a walk round the malt kiln which is a listed building and the impressive cathedral of 294 giant oak vats ("foeders") and see the repair of these wooden giants in situ. During the tour, we hear about the illustrious members of the Rodenbach family who helped shape the history of Belgium and learn what makes Rodenbach beers unique. We will also have a tasting of Rodenbach* and Rodenbach Grand Cru*.

13.30 We make our way to the famous Sint Sixtus Abbey at Westvleteren and their café In de Vrede for a taste of their unparalleled Trappist Westvleteren 12, (bruin 10.6%), Trappist Westvleteren 8 (bruin 8%), Trappist Westvleteren Blond (blond 5.8%). This is the perfect opportunity to get some lunch from their tasty menu.

15.30 Make our way to the uitstekend Sint Bernardus Brewery on the outskirts of Watou for a brewery tour* and full beer tasting* in their smart new beer tasting room, overlooking the hop fields. We will each be given a substantial take home pack of beers and glass*.

18.50 Arrive Eurotunnel.

19.50 Leave Calais on Eurotunnel Train.

19.30 Arrive Folkestone.

19.45 Drop off at Stop 24, J11, M20, Kent.

20.30 Drop off 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent.

20.45 Drop off Dartford Railway Station.

21.30 Arrive Chelmsford, drop off at Mildmay Road.

22.00 Arrive Colchester, drop off.

22.30 Arrive Ipswich, drop off.

Included in the cost of this Tour: Hotel accommodation and breakfasts; Luxury coach travel on a 49 seater coach with toilet; Pick up from Ipswich (Crown Street Layby), Colchester (Southway Chapel St South Layby) or Chelmsford (The Woolpack, Mildmay Road). Arrangements can be made for different joining points on the way to Folkestone or even on the other side of the channel; All Brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings; Entrance fees to attractions, museums and historical sites; All other items marked with an asterisk on the individual detailed tour itinerary; Copies of Podge’s City Bar guide and Map for the town or city where we stay or spend some time on Tour; Free still and sparkling water on the coach.

Tour Price: £420 per person based on sharing in a twin or double room. Single Supplement: £120. If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller please contact Podge as we are regularly able to pair up travellers in twin rooms to avoid the need for payments of Single Supplements. Tour terms and conditions here.