Based at the excellent four star Novotel Leuven Centrum this Tour has a great combination of beer tourism and some great historic and cultural sites in Belgium. Here is the detailed itinerary:
05.15 Coach pick up Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk opposite NCP Car Park.
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 Pick up at Dartford Service Station DA1 1YT.
08.15 Pick up at Dover Ferry Terminal CT16 1JA.
09.25 Ferry departs from Dover to Calais.
12.00 Arrive Calais.
13.00 Call in for a beer and a pre-ordered meal at the newly expanded outstanding beer café and restaurant ‘t Molenhof in Oostvleteren in the shadow of the windmill and a stone’s throw from Struise Brewers Schoolhouse. They have great food, including Spare Ribs and over 100 beers, with loads from Struise and other rarities.
15.00 Arrive at the historic West Flanders biscuit makers Jules Destrooper in the village of Lo which was established in 1886, for a guided tour* followed by a biscuit tasting*.
17.30 The next stop on our way to Leuven is the great Apostelken Café on the outskirts of the city of Aalst, for a quick beer before we drive on to Leuven.
10.00 Leave Novotel Leuven by coach.
11.15 Arrive at Kanne, just south of Maastricht and its famous Marl Caves. We will go underground to explore this maze of pre-15th century caves where stone blocks were quarried to build churches and castles. We will hopefully see prehistoric and more recent Middle Dutch graffiti and visit the unique underground mushroom nursery. More importantly we will visit the underground stores of St Bernardus Grottenbier (Cave Beer) maturing. We will have a full guided tour of the caves* and a tasting of Grottenbier*.
13.30 Arrive in the historic Roman city of Tongeren in Limburg, home to Belgian hero and rebel King Ambiorix leader of a tribe of north-eastern Gaul (now Belgium). He is a national (and local) hero for his stance against Julius Caesar. Time free in this pretty town for you to find lunch and perhaps call in for a beer at the new Au Phare Brewery who have a café with over 100 beers in the town’s main square.
16.30 Leave Tongeren.
17.15 Call in at probably the most attractive brewery in the whole of Belgium, the Kerkom Brewery in the beautiful fruit growing district of Sint Truiden. This is set in a picturesque 1878 enclosed farm courtyard where, weather permitting, we can sit outside and enjoy a beer from their great portfolio of Bink beers including Bloesem Bink made with local honey and pear syrup.
18.15 Leave Kerkom.
19.00 We finish off the day with a visit to a revived brewery in the village of Neerijse, De Kroon Brouwerij (The Crown Brewery) reopened on 23 April 2013 exactly 30 years after the last brew was made in 1983 and the brewery closed down. We will have a chance to sample at least one* their three offerings including the Delvaux Special Blonde, 8.5%abv, a fruity blonde beer, their Super Crown Pale Ale, 6.5%abv, an amber beer made to the old recipe before the brewery closed, and their beer named after one of the owner’s Freddy Delvaux, whose nickname is Job. Their Job Blonde is an unfiltered 6%abv fruity, spicy blonde beer.
Return to Leuven with the rest of evening free. Watch out for the family of beavers who have been recently introduced into the River Dijle as part of a Re-Beavering programme throughout Belgium and have been seen in central Leuven streets.
10.00 Depart by coach from Hotel Novotel Leuven.
11.30 Arrive at Strépy-Thieu for a unique chance to experience the fantastic boat lift on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal. The canal opened in 1917 but the lift was added in 1963 to cope with huge modern barges. This incredible feat of engineering bridges the 70 meter difference in water levels between La Louvière and Thieu. Replacing 6 old locks and hydraulic lifts this colossal vertical boat lift consists of two independent counterweighted lifts. We will be going in a boat in the lift system itself.
13.00 Leave Strépy-Thieu.
13.30 Arrive in the Village of Tourpes, home to world-class Dupont brewery. We will have a pre-arranged meal in La Forge restaurant/brewery tap and a chance to sample beers from Dupont which are on offer here.
15.30 After lunch we make our way to the nearby Archeosite and Museum in Aubechies for a tour of the site* and a chance to taste* the special herbal beer Cervesia brewed especially for this site that recreates an old beer style.
17.00 Leave Aubechies.
17.45 We finish off the day on the way back to Leuven by calling in at the friendly café and brewery Den Herberg in Buizingen where we can sample from their portfolio of beers in situ. Evening drive back to Hotel Novotel, Leuven.
10.00 Depart Hotel Novotel Leuven.
11.15 We start the day with a visit to the brilliant beer warehouse Dranken Geers in Oostakker where we have the opportunity to buy some beers to take home from their great range at good prices Dranken Geers.
13.00 Arrive at the huge Delirium Brewery in Melle, and have a look at their brand new magnificent brewhouse* and have a beer tasting*. A chance to get hold of some of their excellent merchandise…follow the pink elephants.
16.00 Our final stop is a bit of a favourite as we travel to West Flanders to see the nice people on the canal at Varsenare at the Bistro Nieuwege for a meal (always great and yes, you can have the ribs) and a last crack at their superb beer list which always has something quality and interesting including a massive nine now on draught.
17.45 Leave Bistro Nieuwege.
18.55 Arrive Calais Ferry Port.
19.55 Ferry crossing from Calais.
20.25 Arrive Port of Dover.
21.40 Drop off Dartford Railway Station DA1 1BP.
22.15 Drop off Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0EA.
22.45 Drop off Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester.
23.15 Drop off Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk (opposite NCP Car Park).
Based on sharing in a twin or double room. Single Supplement: £100. 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. Please also have a look at our Tour Terms and Conditions.