This five-day Tour is based at the four star Hotel Academie in central Bruges. Here is the detailed itinerary:
05.45 Coach pick up Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA.
06.15 Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN.
07.00 Coach pick up 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent BR8 8EE.
07.20 Coach pick up Maidstone Services, J8, M20, Kent ME17 1SS.
07.50 Pick up at Stop 24, (J11, M20) Kent CT21 4BL.
09.20 Eurotunnel from Folkestone.
11.00 Arrive Calais.
12.00 The first stop will be at the old farmstead ‘t Boeregat in Houtem just over the Belgian border for our first welcome beer, bought by Podge* and our prebooked lunch.
16.30 Call in at our second brand new brewery of the day Fort Lapin in Bruges actually only first brewed in October 2012. We will have a look at the new brewery and sample the Fort Lapin 8 and the new Quadrupel beer.*
18.30 Arrive at four star Hotel Acadamie. Maps of Bruges* and copies of Podge’s Bruges Top 10 Bar Guide* will be distributed, which will include some sneek previews from our forthcoming book Around Bruges in 80 Beers third edition, which comes out in February. Evening free to explore Bruges.
10.00 Head off by coach to call in on Johan at Smisje Brewery in Mater. Here we have a quick look round and sample a couple of his seasonal beers. The first one* is on Podge.
13.00 Stop at Eenvoudig Bestaan, a converted barn in Kerkhove for a pre-arranged unique dining experience and a beer or two chosen from their 60 strong beer list.
15.15 Call in at the Winter Beer Festival on ice, hosted by Waregem’s local Zythos branch. This is their winter beer display, which promises to include some rare or indeed unique seasonal beers.
18.00 Arrive at De Poulin a new beer café on the Bruges ring road for a go at their superbly chosen 100 strong beer list plus, if you wish to eat, your choice from their rib or chicken grill.
20:00ish Return to hotel in central Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.
10:00 Coach leaves hotel for a visit to Vanuxeem, Ploegsteert, the biggest beer warehouse in this part of the world, for an opportunity to buy beer to take home.
12:30 Visit to Gainsbar in Kortrijk, one of the new breed of café in West Flanders at the forefront of bringing quality beer to the nation. There should also be time whilst we are here to get a homemade burger from the nearby highly esteemed Paul's Boutique. After leaving Kortrijk, we will call in at a special beer café for a beer or two on the way back to Bruges.
21:00 As many of you will know getting fed and watered in Belgium on Christmas Eve is a challenge as most businesses close down in the evening so that staff can join their families. Once again, this year the cafe-restaurant Strijdershuis has agreed to save us some space and they should be open until around midnight.
Christmas Morning at leisure in Bruges. You may want to take in the fabulous Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival in marquees on the square in front of the railway station – bring your gloves!
11:45 Leave hotel in Bruges and make our way under the River Schelde by tunnel into Holland.
13:30 Arrive at Emelisse brewery who are taking the Dutch beer scene by storm. Expect to be astounded by their beer range. We will have a welcome drink of Emelisse Winterbier, followed by a brewery tour* and tasting* of three of their marvellous beers. We will then partake of a luxury Christmas buffet lunch.
16:30 Leave Emelisse.
17:00 Arrive at the restaurant De Baeckermat in Westdorpe for a tasting* of two beers from Brouwerij La Fontaine. Currently their beers are brewed at De Graal in Brakel, East Flanders, but they aim to brew at nearby premises in Sas van Gent in 2013. We will sample their amber Belle & Forte with some Belgian chocolate plus paired with a local cheese we will taste the new blond beer Belle & Elegance, to be launched on the market in 2013.
18:00ish Arrive back in Bruges for a last crack at the nightlife in Bruges.
10:00 Set off from our hotel for the journey home.
10:30 Arrive at Blankenberge Pier for a beer in the pier café overlooking the sea.
12:30 Head for Ostend and Café Botteltje the family run café with not only the best beer selection in town, but one of the most extensive beer menus in West Flanders. There should be a few Christmas beers amongst their 13 draught and 300 bottled beers!
15:00 Visit to Toogoloog in Middelkerke for our last stop. At this fantastic beer café we can enjoy their specially prepared cheese and bread buffet with a selection of 10 cheeses, either with or without a tasting of four accompanying rare beers acquired by the café.
18:00 Leave for Eurotunnel.
19:50 Leave Calais on Eurotunnel.
19:30 Arrive Folkestone.
19:40 Coach drop off Stop 24 (J11, M20) Kent CT21 4BL.
20:10 Coach drop off Maidstone Services, J8, M20, Kent ME17 1SS.
20:40 Coach drop off 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent BR8 8EE.
21:20 Coach drop off 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0EA.
21:50 Coach drop off Witham High Street, Essex.
22:12 Coach drop off Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA.
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 ﬁve 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. Please also have a look at our Terms and Conditions.