Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 80 / Christmas in Bruges

Monday 21 December – Saturday 26 December 2015

Why not spend Christmas away in beautiful Bruges? This Tour is based at the four star Hotel Academie in central Bruges for a five night stay. Once again we will be spending Christmas Day visiting the welcoming and excellent Emelisse Brewery, for a superb buffet accompanied by a tasting of their range of beers. This year we will also visit ex-Emelisse brewer Kees Bubberman's new brewery Brouwerij Kees around the corner in Middelburg where we can have a chat and a tasting of his beers.

Bruges in winter

Bruges by Viaggio Routard.

Please see the full itinerary below. If you would like to join us or have any questions please call Podge on 01245 354677 or send Podge an email. Please also contact Podge to get details of how to send the full balance for this Tour.

Day 1 Monday 21 December

04.15hr Ipswich Village Car Park, West End Rd, Ipswich, Suffolk.

04.45hr Coach pick up Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA

05.15hr Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN

05.40hr Coach pick up Holiday Inn M25, Jct.28, Brook St, Brentwood, CM14 5NF

06.25hr Coach pick up Maidstone Service Station, Junction 8, M20 Motorway, Hollingbourne, Maidstone ME17 1SS

06.40hr Coach pick up Premier Inn, Eureka Leisure Park, Rutherford Road, Ashford TN25 4BN

07.00hr Coach pick up Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone Kent CT21 4BL

08.20hr Eurotunnel from Folkestone

10.00hr Arrive Calais

10.45hr Pick up one traveller at Verloren Gernoare, Stationsplein 3, Adinkerke 8660 (De Panne railway station)

11.15hr Our first stop is at the beautiful Molenhof Café ‘t Molenhof in Oostvleteren which has an impressive beer menu of over 120 choices and we can have a crack at their draught Struise Brouwerij beers from the brewery across the road. We will also have our first pre-arranged group meal here. Podge has arranged for them to prepare their sublime Black Albert Sabayon for those who would like to try this luscious dessert.

13.30hr Pay a visit to the cafe Rattevallebrug in Middelkerke, a lovely canal side bar with a fifty-strong beer list to choose from. Their house beer is brewed by Van Steenberge in Ertvelde.

15.15hr Beer stop at Baron Café on the seaside just outside Oostende, opposite is the churchyard where the great Flemish artist Ensor is buried.

17.30hr Arrive at four star Hotel Acadamie. Maps of Bruges* and copies of Podge’s Bruges Christmas Bar Guide* will be distributed. For those who would like a full Bruges bar experience we will have copies available for sale of our 2013 third edition book Around Bruges in 80 Beers. Evening free to explore Bruges. No doubt many will make their way to Brugs Beertje (Daisy’s), which closes on the 24 and 25 December for Christmas.

Molenhof Oostvleteren

‘t Molenhof Oost-Vleteren.

Day 2 Tuesday 22 December

10.00hr Following a buffet breakfast in our hotel* we head off by coach.

10.45hr Arrive for a very special anniversary visit to our friends at Alvinne Brewery commemorating the birth of Podge Belgian Imperial Stout ten years ago, which will include the tasting of some of the original ten year old, four yeast prototype beers which we still have a few precious bottles of!* We can see how it has aged since Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours tasted each of the sample brews to see which was the preferred beer.

13.00hr Arrive at café 't Eenvoudig Bestaan in Kerkhove in a converted barn for a unique experience of a lunch of unlimited savoury oven cakes with a huge variety of fillings. To wash them down we can choose a beer from their expertly picked menu that runs to 60 choices.

15.00hr Arrive at The Witte Raaf(The White Raven) in Oudenaarde, a new café offering an excellent beer menu including some from the Struise Brouwers and other hip Belgo-craft brewers. There are another couple of good bars in town close by which Podge will show us.

18.00hr We have arranged a visit to the new tasting room at the Oude Maalderij (The Old Maltings) in Izegem for a taste of their beers. The project was started in 2011 in an old maltings by four friends and brewing started here in autumn 2012 of their Qantelaar beer. They also use other brewers kit for larger brews including Maenhout, 't Gaverhopke, De Leite, Gulden Spoor and Alvinne. In September 2015 they opened a tasting room on site with five permanent taps and five changing beers they can certainly offer something for everyone. They also have a range of vintage beers available. The first beer is on Podge*.

20.30hr Drop at Hotel Academie in Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Day 3 Wednesday 23 December

10.00hr Head off by coach from Hotel Academie.

10.30hr Call in at the new Bryggja Brewery in Moerkerke on the outskirts of Bruges which started brewing in summer 2015. We will have a quick look at the brewery* and a taste of their beers*. Their beers were previously brewed at De Graal, but have been brewed here since August 2015.

12.30hr We make a visit to the town of Sluis, just over the Dutch border and spend some time at the beautiful Molen van Sluis which is a working flour mill, café and shop. The mill was built in 1739 and is the only one of 12 originally in the village. The beautiful modern café is built round the mill and offers 50 beers for you to choose from. The mill still grinds flour which the café uses in their pancakes. There is a large diesel motor in the middle of the café once provided backup power to the windmill. To this day the mill is today still active and open to the public. The local town beer is sold here and called Jantje van Sluis and is a blonde tripel. (9%abv).

14.00hr Make our way to the Dutch coast for a visit to the Marckensteijn Brewery Marckensteijn brewery tap and restaurantDe Drie Koningen (The Three Kings) in the village of Groede. Here we will have our pre-ordered meal and a chance to try their beers brewed on the premises. They should also have some news about their new project.

17.30hr An evening on the promenade (Zeedijk) in the seaside resort of Blankenberge armed with a copy of Podge’s Blankenberge Bar Guide* and Map* for a stroll and a beer or two.

20.00hr Arrive at Hotel Academie in Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Day 4 Thursday 24 December

10.00hr Head off by coach from Hotel Academie.

10.10hr Pay a visit to Kristof at Fort Lapin Brewery on the outskirts of Bruges to see how he is expanding and for a little tour and taste*.

12.00hr Call in at the friendly Café Rembrandt at Zedelgem with its choice of over 100 beers to keep you happy. The house speciality is Wallonian La Chouffe on draught and the delicious hot Chouffe Coffee, perfect for Christmas Eve.

14.00hr Arrive at the Gouden Osse (The Golden Ox) in Tourhout for our pre-ordered group meal and a beer or two from their interesting list. Brewery Dupont’s Avec Les Bons Voeux (With Good Wishes) should be on draught. Mmmm…We should also have a chance to do side by side tastings of St Bernardus Abt and Westvleteren 12 as they sell both.

16.00hr Make a beer stop at the friendly and cosy Café OPCD in Ardooie for a beer or two chosen from their great menu of 180 choices.

18.00hr On our way back to Bruges we call in at Les Tzars in Zerkegem, a modern café offering a range of 60 beers and some special Christmas Beers.

20.00hr Arrive at Hotel Academie in Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Day 5 Friday 25 December

Christmas Morning at leisure in Bruges for a lie in or bracing walk along the canals. Bring your gloves.

11.30hr Leave hotel in Bruges and make our way under the River Schelde by tunnel into Holland.

13.00hr Arrive at the Emelisse Brewery and restaurant on the island of Kamperland. Emelisse are one of Holland’s top brewers and expect to be astounded by their beer range if you have not tried them before. We will have a welcome drink followed by a luxury Christmas hot and cold buffet lunch served with a range of accompanying beers.

16.00hr Leave Emelisse.

16.30hr Pay a special visit to Kees Bubberman’s new brewery in Middelberg where we can have a Tour* of the new brewery and a taste of his beers*.

19.30hr Arrive at Café Roeland in Sint Laureins, just back over the Belgian border, which offers a beer menu of over 100, including a good selection of Trappist beers and we should all find something we like.

21.00hr Arrive at Hotel Academie in Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Day 6 Saturday 26 December

10.00hr Head off by coach from Hotel Academie.

10.45hr Arrive at the brilliant Bierhalle Deconinck in Vichte, the best beer shop in West Flanders, for an opportunity to buy beers to take home from their brilliant choice of 500 beers! They have a superb choice of Belgian and International beers and they take credit cards.

12.30hr Surprise visit!

14.00hr Make our way into Kortrijk to the Duivels Paterke beer restaurant for our pre-booked group meal. They have great food and an equally brilliant beer list to choose from.

16.00hr Leave Duivels Paterke in Kortrijk.

16.40hr Arrive at In de Vrede café at the Abbey of Saint-Sixtus in Westvleteren. Here we will have an opportunity to sample the rare beers from the Monastery across the road and perhaps, if they have some beer left, you may be able to buy some to take home.

17.45hr Leave for Eurotunnel.

19.50hr Leave Calais on Eurotunnel.

19.30hr Arrive Folkestone.

19.40hr Coach drop off Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone Kent CT21 4BL

20.00hr Coach drop off Ashford

20.20hr Coach drop off Maidstone Service Station, Junction 8, M20 Motorway, Hollingbourne, Maidstone ME17 1SS

21.00hr Coach drop Holiday Inn M25, Jct.28, Brook St, Brentwood, CM14 5NF

21.20hr Coach drop 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0EA

22.00hr Coach drop Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA

22.30hr Coach drop Ipswich Village Car Park, West End Rd, Ipswich, Suffolk.

Tour Price: £590 per person based on sharing in a twin or double room

Single Supplement: £220

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.

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 on the individual detailed tour itinerary;

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 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.

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 strongly advised, as is carrying the European Health Insurance Card available online, by phone or via the Post Office.

If you have any questions or would like to join us on this Tour please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677 for details on how to send a deposit of £125 per person for this Tour. The full balance is payable five weeks before departure.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.