Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 81 / Belgian Beer from the Wood

Thursday 21 April – Monday 25 April 2016

This new and unique tour is based at the excellent four star Hotel Keizershof in the beery city of Aalst where we will explore old Flemish Reds & Browns, Lambic beers and barrel-aged beers. This Tour will include a day experiencing the third biennial Rondje Roodbruin, a one day tour around the traditional breweries producing the world-renowned Flemish Red-Brown beers. Rodenbach Brewery

Rodenbach Brewery.

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 a deposit of £120 per person for this Tour. Full balance payable five weeks before departure.

Thursday 21 April

06.15hr Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN.

07.10hr Coach pick up Esso Dartford Service Station, 474 Princes Rd, Dartford DA1 1YT.

08.15hr Coach pick up at Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone Kent CT21 4BL.

09.20hr Eurotunnel Train crossing from Folkestone.

11.00hr Arrive Calais.

12.00hr Our first stop is at the beautiful Molenhof Café in Oostvleteren which has an impressive beer menu of over 120 choices and we can have a crack at their unique selection of lovely draught Struise Brouwerij beers from the very local brewery in the village. We will also have our first pre-arranged group meal here and we have made a request to the chef to prepare some of their sublime Black Albert Sabayon dessert for those who would like to try this luscious concoction.

14.00hr We have a special visit to the Struise Brouwerij barrel store and shop over the road in the schoolhouse to have a look at their barrel-aged beer programme and hopefully an opportunity to buy some of their bottled wood aged beers which this brewery has pioneered in the modern Wood Beer Renaissance.

15.00hr Leave Struise in Oosvleteren.

15.30hr Pay a visit to Strubbe Brewery in Ichtegem. This is a brewery started by farmer Carolus Strubbe in 1830. Like many brewers in Belgium Carolus grew barley on his farm in the summer and in the winter malted it to make his own beer. Belgian brewers made or repaired their own barrels often with oak from their very own trees. Due to this traditional method, there was a huge variety of beer barrel sizes and the beer often varied in taste from one barrel to another. Our host Marc Strubbe is the seventh generation of brewers and now runs the brewery with his son.

17.00hr Leave Strubbe for our journey to the city of Aalst in East Flanders.

18.00hr Arrive at the centrally located luxury four star Hotel Keizershof in Aalst for a four night stay. The hotel breakfast buffet is served 0700-1000hrs and there is a free Sauna and Gym on the first floor. There is tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms and WIFI. You have the evening free is this great little Flemish city whose inhabitants are known as onions, which has something to do with the way they pronounce certain words in the local dialect. Copies of Podge’s Aalst Bar Guide* and town map* will be distributed. Molenhof Oostvleteren

‘t Molenhof Oost-Vleteren.

Friday 22 April

10.00hr Following a leisurely breakfast* we leave the hotel by coach.

10.45hr The Lambic Visitors Centre Centre De Lambiek in Beersel (Alsemberg) for a look at their great museum and a taste of lambic beer. There will be a 10 minute film about lambic brewing and blending, plus exhibits, a beer shop and a bar where we can sample one of their draught lambic beers*.

12.30hr Call in at Den Herberg café and brewery in Buizingen for an opportunity to try their beers brewed on the premises.

14.00hr Lunch lambic cuisine style at the world famous Café-Restaurant 3 Fonteinen in the traditional heartland lambic town, Beersel. This restaurant is owned and run by the family Debelder and is the brewery tap for Armand Debelder’s 3Fonteinen Brewery in the village. Here we will have our pre-booked beer cuisine lunch and a chance to sample some of the beers of 3 Fonteinen brewery uniquely on draught here. They have Armand’s Beersel Blonde 7% abv on draught as well as some Lambics and Kriekenlambic’s too.

15.30hr After a short coach ride to the other end of the town we have a guided tour* and tasting* at the ancient Oud Beersel Geuzestekerij the creators of Oude Lambiek, Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek. The guys who run this are particularly innovative in promoting lambic beer and harnessing local group and volunteer support.

19.00hr We arrive at the biannual lambic beer festival known as The Night of the Great Thirst International Geuze and Kriek Festival of the Pajottenland (snappy title). The first festival in 2004 (and all subsequent festivals) were held in the brilliant cafe In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst (The Insurance Against Great Thirst) and in breezy marquees outside. However this year there is a new venue nearby on the same street as Timmermans Brewery, in fact on ground next to 55 Kerkstraat, Itterbeek (Dilbeek). There will probably still be breezy marquees outside so do be sure to wear your thick drawers. Admission to the festival is free and tokens are on sale for the purchase of beers, tasting glass and t-shirts. You should find lambic beers from all Belgian producers and some wannabees from further afield considered to be ‘distant cousins’ ​​of the spontaneous fermentation lambic beers of the Pajottenland and the Senne Valley.

21.00hrish Return to friendly city Aalst for a crack at its cafes, bars and estaminets, armed with Podge’s Aalst Bar Guide and Map*. Oude Beersel Geuze

Oude Beersel Geuze

Satursday 23 April

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast*, leave hotel by coach.

10.30hr Call in at the Volkscafé De Cam in Gooik, the town café and brewery tap for the superb De Cam lambic blender across the yard. They have De Cam Lambiek and Kriekenlambiek on draught. They also offer a comprehensive menu of bottled Geuze and Krieks from De Cam, Boon, Cantillon, Girardin, Lindemans, Timmermans and Oude Beersel.

11.30hr Leave Volkscafé in Gooik.

12.15hr Arrive at the Brabanthal venue just outside Leuven for a visit to Belgium’s premier national Zythos Beer Festival which showcases over 80 brewers offering 500 beers. At the beer stands you pay with tokens and each beer is served in a specially designed 10cl tasting glass. At the entrance hall you can buy a Starter Package of a glass together with 5 tokens for 10€. It is possible to use tokens for soft drinks but not food. At the end of the festival you can either keep your glass as a souvenir and take it home or return it to the “Glass booth” and receive € 2.00 back. The Brabanthal is a ten minute free bus ride from Leuven Railway Station. There is a free shuttle bus which runs if you want to go into Leuven, just ensure that you are back at Brabanthal for the coach pick up. If you want to go into Leuven you may find useful Podge’s Leuven Bar Guide.

18.00hr Set off from Brabanthal by coach for a Saturday evening out in downtown Aalst. Bockor Brewery Tour April 2013

Omer Vander Ghinste Brewery Tour

Sunday 24 April

09.00hr After an early breakfast*, leave hotel by coach for our first Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours encounter with the third biennial Rondje Roodbruin (Red-Brown Beer Tour). This is a one day open house of the handful of breweries producing traditional Flemish Red-Brown beers including Omer Vander Ghinste, Verhaeghe and we are the special guests at Rodenbach and at De Brabandere and will taste some of Flanders greatest beers.

10.00hr Arrive at Rodenbach Brewery in Roeselare for an introduction and a Tour* of the brewery and a wander through its unique forest of oak barrels. We will also have a beer tasting here.*

11.45hr Departure from Rodenbach Brewery.

12.15hr Arrival at De Brabandere Brewery in Bavikhove (Bavik)

12.30hr Tour commences with a guide at De Brabandere Brewery where we will have a brewery tour* and beer tasting.*

14.30hr Arrive at Track 75 café and restaurant on the railway station in Harelbeke where we will have our organised meal and an opportunity to try some of their beers featuring Bavik beers from De Brabandere.

After lunch we make our way to nearby town of Vichte and the old Verhaeghe Brewery and then onto Omer Vander Ghinste Brewery in Bellegem where there is an open day and beer tasting at both breweries.

18.30hr We make our way back to Aalst and have arranged a pub-takeover at the excellent new beer shop and tasting cafe Ambarosa who are opening specially for us to try some new beers of the region which they specialise in. You can also buy bottles to takeaway and there are local snacks too.

Evening at leisure in Aalst.

Lambic Barrels

Lambic barrels.

Monday 25 April

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* check out of hotel. Coach leaves for our last day.

10.30hr Arrive at Dranken Geers in Oostakker, the best beer warehouse in East Flanders for an opportunity to buy beers to take home. They do take credit cards.

12.00hr Arrive at Microbrouwerij Urthel in Ruiselede where Hildegard the brewer will show us her small brewery and the wood barrels which she uses to age some of her beer, which hopefully we can try. We then make our way the short distance to the restaurant and brewery tap:

13.30hr Arrive at De Hoppeschuur in Knesselare. This is a fabulous eatery and brewery tap for the Microbrwery Urthel run by husband and wife team Hildegard van Ostaden, (the brewer) and Bas. Not only will we enjoy a pre-arranged meal here, we will have a unique opportunity to sample some of the 12 beers on draught all from Microbrewery Urthel, including some from their oak-aging programme.

15.30hr Leave De Hoppeschuur in Knesselare and drop off at Beernem Rail Station those leaving us in Belgium.

Make our way to Calais and time permitting stop at the historic and beautiful town of Veurne where we can get a last beer on the lovely Grote Markt.

18.50hr Arrive Eurotunnel

19.50hr Leave Calais on Eurotunnel Train

19.30hr Arrive Folkestone

19.40hr Coach drop Stop24 J11 M20, Kent CT21 4BL

20.30hr Coach drop Dartford Railway Station DA1 1BP

21.40hr Coach drop 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0EA

22.40hr Coach drop at Tesco Extra, Copdock Mill Interchange, Ipswich IP8 3TS

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

Single Supplement: £210

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 (Ipswich Village Car Park, West End Rd, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 9AS), Colchester (Southway Chapel St South Layby) or Chelmsford (The t LaybyWoolpack, 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 be added to the interested list please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.