We are pleased to announce a new themed Belgian Beer Tour which explores the authentic Abbey beers of Belgium. In 1999 a Certiﬁed Belgian Abbey Beer (Erkend Belgisch Abdijbier) logo was introduced by the Union of Belgian Brewers. This is awarded and can be used on the labels of beers which comply with certain conditions including links with an existing or former abbey and payment of royalties for charitable purposes to the abbey.
We will aim to visit various locations associated with these beers to give Travellers a unique opportunity to attempt to try most or all of the ‘Erkend’ Abbey beers of Belgium. We will be visiting some of the Breweries where they are brewed, some of the associated Abbeys and some other historic settings linked to the beer. Siobhan McGinn will be our guide to the historical and cultural elements of this Tour including sorting your Cistercians from your Benedictines, whilst on the beer front Podge will sort out your Dubbels from your Tripels.
We aim to visit and sample most of Belgium’s true or ‘Erkend’ Abbey beers in either brewery or Abbey settings. Siobhan McGinn will be our guide to the historical elements of this Tour including sorting your Cistercians from your Benedictines, whilst on the beer front Podge will sort out your Dubbels from your Tripels. Here is the detailed itinerary:
05.15 Coach pick up at Crown Street Layby Ipswich IP1 3HS.
05.45 Coach pick up Lexden – St Leonards Church, Lexden Road, CO3 4BL.
06.15 Coach pick up Chelmsford – The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford.
06.50 Pick up Dartford Service Station, 474 Princes Rd, Dartford DA1 1YT.
07.00 Coach pick up 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent BR8 8EE.
07.25 Change driver Maidstone Services, J8, M20, ME17 1SS.
09.20 Eurotunnel Train Crossing from Folkestone.
11.00 Arrive Calais.
11.50 Coach pick up at De Verloren Gernoare, Stationsplein 3, Adinkerke.
12.00 Call in for our ﬁrst Abbey beer of the Tour at Gasterie Ten Duinen in the ruined Cistercian Ten Duinen Abbey grounds in Koksijde. Here we can choose from the range of Ten Duinen Beers brewed by Huyghe under the name Saint Idesbald. The beers are named after the Cistercian monk and abbot of this abbey who was buried here in 1167. We will also have a pre-ordered meal and Podge will get everybody their ﬁrst beer*.
14.00 Leave Ten Duinen.
15.30 Visit to see brewer Marc-Antione at Brunehaut Brewery just south of Tournai. Brunehaut being the name of the paved Roman road from Amiens to Cologne. Marc-Antione brews the Saint Martin range of beers for the Abbey in Tournai founded by St Martin in 1096. We will taste some of his beers* and with any luck might be able to sample his brand new Cloak of St Martin Quadruple.
17.00 Leave Brunehaut Brewery.
18.00 Call in at Val de Sambre Brewery which has been brewing since 2000 within the stables of the Cistercian Abbey at Aulne. They brew six beers, an increase on the two brewed here in the Middle Ages, being a strong beer reserved for the Fathers and a small beer for local paupers. Brewing stopped here in 1850, and it is good to see it back again in the Abbey. We will have a look at the brewery* with a beer tasting included* and a pre-ordered evening meal.
10.00 Leave Ibis Namur by coach.
10.35 Arrive at Maredsous Abbey near Namur for a quick beer and a look at these magniﬁcent buildings. The Abbey community has an ancient past, but the current Benedictine Community (one of 30 odd in Belgium) have been living here since the nineteenth century. They are famed for their cheese and beer. The monks licence the use of the Abbey name to Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, the makers of Maredsous range of beers which has been brewed since 1963. There are currently three beers, the Blonde (6% abv), Brune (dubbel, 8% abv), Triple (tripel, 10% abv). We can try them in the café here.
12.00 Leave Maredsous Abbey.
13.00 Arrive at the Tournebride Taverne attached to Abbaye de Bonne-Espérance (Abbey of Good Hope) near Binche. This Abbey, like many in Belgium was founded in the twelfth century but has been rebuilt several times. The eighteenth Century Abbey managed to escape the ravages of the French Revolution which destroyed many Belgian Abbeys and Monasteries. This community were Premonstratensians (Norbertines) a Catholic religious order founded at Prémontré in France in 1120 by Saint Norbert. At the tavern, we will have a pre-booked lunch which includes two Abbaye de Bonne Espérance beers, brewed in Quenast by Brouwerij Lefebvre.
14.30 Leave Abbaye de Bonne-Espérance.
15.00 Call in at Saint-Feuillien Brewery in Le Roeulx for a tour* of the old brewery built in 1873, a look at the new brewery, followed by a beer tasting* of their Abbey beers. St Feuillien was in fact Saint Foillan, a seventh century Irish monk who founded a monastery at Le Roeulx bearing his name.
17.00 Leave Saint-Feuillien Brewery.
18.00 Visit Floreffe Abbey for a guided tour* of the Abbey in English. Floreffe Abbey was founded in 1121 and still boasts imposing buildings on a promontory overlooking the Sambre valley. The Abbey was occupied by the Premontratensian order (Norbertines) and reached its peak of prosperity at the start of the French Revolution, after which it was plundered and declined. We then proceed to the Moulin-Brasserie de l’Abbaye de Floreffe in the Abbey grounds. In the former Mill Brewery, we will have a pre-ordered meal and a taste of the Floreffe Beer range, brewed by Brouwerij Lefebvre.
20.00 Leave Mill Brasserie Floreffe to return to Namur and an evening free to explore this lovely city.
10.00 Depart by coach from Ibis Hotel, Namur.
11.00 Arrive at Val-Dieu Brewery situated since 1997 in the old farm in the Thirteenth Century Cistercian Abbey de Val-Dieu, near Aubel. Here we will have a guided tour of the Abbey* and Brewery* and an opportunity to taste the Val Dieu range of beers* brewed here.
13.00 Leave Val-Dieu.
14.00 Arrive at Herkenrode Abbey – a former monastery of Cistercian nuns, for a guided talk by a local guide on the history of the site and a walkabout *. We then make our way on foot to nearby Tuyltermolen (Mill Farm) for a pre-ordered lunch followed by a beer tasting of the Herkenrode Tripel* and Bruin* accompanied by the local Herkenrode cheese made with herbs. Hereknrode Abbey Beers were launched in 2009 and are brewed at Brewery Sint-Josef in Opitter.
16.00 Leave Tuyltermolen Farm in Herkenrode.
16.30 Call in at Ter Dolen Castle Brewery for a taste of their beers. In the Middle Ages The ‘Ter Dolen’ or ‘Maze’ was a fortiﬁed refuge for the Abbots of St. Truiden Abbey. One of the castle farm buildings was converted into an ultramodern brewery in 1994. The Ter Dolen range of Abbey beers is on offer here, with its religious link being to the St Truiden Benedictine Abbey founded in the Seventh Century by St. Trudo.
18.00 Leave Ter Dolen for the journey to the city of Leuven.
18.30 Arrive for a tasting of Keizersberg Beer at Brasserie Improvisio in central Leuven. This attractive courtyard bar which was formerly the house of the Augustinian Sisters of Leuven who in former times worked in the hospital, a modern version of which is still next door. This cafe serves Keizersberg Beer* brewed by Van Steenberge for the City of Leuven and its local Keizersberg Benedictine Abbey nearby. This is now an educational establishment.
10.00 Depart by coach from Hotel Novotel Mechelen.
10.30 Arrive at Gasthof d'Oude Brouwerij, a café located in the former dairy of Affligem Abbey. Affligem Abbey was founded in 1062 by six hermits and is still a working religious Benedictine community opposite this café. In the 12th century, Benedictine Monks brewed beer in Affligem but since 1970 brewing of Affligem Abbey beer was transferred to Brouwerij De Smedt in Opwijk, now owned by Heineken. For centuries this region of Affligem-Asse-Aalst was one of the richest hop-growing regions of Europe, originally centred on Affligem Abbey. Recently a hop ﬁeld has been replanted to the left of the café. We may be able to get hold of the new hoppy beer Affligem Cuvée 950 which was created in 2012 to celebrate the 950th Anniversary of the founding of the Abbey.
12.00 Leave Gasthof d'Oude Brouwerij.
13.30 Arrive at Gasthof de Beiaard in Postel for lunch. This café restaurant sits opposite Postel Abbey and has huge indoor and outdoor seating areas. Postel Abbey beers are available, as well as an opportunity to choose from their food menu. Premonstratensian Canons from Floreffe Abbey founded a monastery at Postel as a dependent priory to Floreffe in 1138. During the French Revolution in 1797 the Abbey was closed and the Canons discharged. When the community was re-established it brewed beer but this is now licensed to Brouwerij De Smedt (Heineken) in Opwijk. The abbey also produces cheese and in 1994 the monks created a botanical garden of medicinal plants, where they cultivate ginseng.
16.00 Leave Gasthof de Beiaard.
16.30 Call in at the Brasserie Torenhof in Tongerlo opposite Tongerlo Abbey for an opportunity to try beer from their Abbey range, brewed by Belgium’s largest independent brewery Haacht. Tongerlo Abbey was founded in 1128. In the Sixteenth Century, tee Catholic Monks of Tongerlo became martyrs in conflicts between Catholic Belgium and nearby Calvanist Netherlands. Following the Belgian pattern in other Abbeys, Tongerlo’s property was conﬁscated and sold by the French occupying forces in 1796, but was bought back in 1840. The Abbey holds a Sixteenth Century full size copy of Leonardo's Da Vinci’s Last Supper which interestingly shows many details which are no longer visible in the original fresco due to deterioration.
18.00 Leave Torenhof for the return to Mechelen and an evening free in the City.
10.00 Depart Hotel Novotel, Mechelen.
11.00 Arrive at Café de Nieuwe Keizer in Mater which is the brewery tap for the Roman Brewery who brew the Ename Abbey beer range. The Abbey started religious life in 1063 when Benedictine monks settled in Ename castle and turned the fort into an Abbey. The ﬁrst brewing activities dated from then. The Abbey is now a ruin with a museum on the site. To celebrate a cultural event in these ruins in 1990, Roman Brewery created Ename Dubbel and Tripel beer. This became a commercial success and in return for the license to brew Ename Abbey Beers, a proportion of Abbey beer sales goes towards cultural activities centred around the ruins.
12.00 Leave Café de Nieuwe Keizer in Mater.
13.00 Arrive at our old friends Dranken Geers beer warehouse in Oostakker for an opportunity to buy some beers to take home from their selection of over 600 on offer. Especially for this tour we will be able to sample here the Abbey beers* created for Ramee Abbey brewed by Brasserie Du Bocq. Ramee Abbey Nunnery was founded by the Cistercian order at Jodoigne in 1215. The agricultural heritage of the Abbey survives today in the Fruiticum where the Monks collected and grew different species of fruit trees in their huge gardens. In 2000 the Ramee Abbey Fruiticum was replanted in the same spot as the original in order to preserve 350 old and endangered fruit tree varieties.
14.00 Leave Dranken Geers.
14.30 Pay a visit to the superb Van Steenberge Brewery Flagship Beer & Food House Bierkamer in Kluizen for a special Breughel Meal Buffet and a crack at Tony & Evelien’s great beer list which includes not only some rare and special beers, but also Bornem Abbey Tripel* on draught, brought in especially for us. Bornem Abbey was founded in 1603, but was taken from the locals by English Dominicans when had to flee Britain in 1658 because of religious persecution. They captured Bornem Abbey which was thenceforth known as the ‘English Monastery’.
18.50 Arrive Eurotunnel.
19.50 Leave Calais on Eurotunnel Train.
19.30 Arrive Folkestone, then drop off 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent BR8 8EE.
20.45 Drop off Dartford Railway Station, Mill Pond Road, Dartford, DA1 1BP.
21.30 Drop off at 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0EA.
22.00 Drop off Lexden (Colchester), St Leonards Church, Lexden Road, CO3 4BL.
23.30 Drop off Crown Street Layby Ipswich IP1 3HS.
Based on sharing in a twin or double room. Single Supplement: £128. 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.
All detailed itinerary times are local and approximate. All food and drink (apart from those marked with an asterisk* on the detailed itinerary) and all passport and insurance costs are each traveller’s responsibility. Personal insurance is not included in the Tour price, but is strongly advised, as is carrying the European Health Insurance Card available online, by phone or via the Post Ofﬁce.
If you would like to join us or have any questions please call Podge on +44 (0)1245 354677 or send Podge an email. Please also contact Podge to get details of how to send a deposit of £100 per person for this Tour. Full balance payable 5 weeks before departure.
Included in the cost of this Tour: Hotel accommodation and breakfasts; 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 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; 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. Tour terms and condition here.