Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 85 / Christmas in Bruges

Wednesday 21 December – Monday 26 December 2016

We love Belgium (and winter beers) at Christmas and we love taking a coach full of like minded people. If you want something different to the usual Christmas routine, why not come away with us and get driven around beautiful Flanders in a coach to eat and drink in warm cosy surroundings and sample the finest offerings of the Burgundian culture. Why not sign up for a proper Christmas holiday! Bourgogne des Flandres Brewery, Bruges

Bourgogne des Flandres Brewery, Bruges

The full, detailed and timed itinerary for this tour appears 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 £105 per person for this Tour. Full balance payable five weeks before departure.

Christmas in Bruges 2016 - detailed itinerary

Day 1 - Wednesday 21 December

Very early! Galloways Coach starts from Galloways depot at Denters Hill, Mendlesham, Suffolk IP14 5RR and picks up two travellers as arranged directly with Galloways.

05.15hr Coach pick up at bus shelter outside Crown House, Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3HS (opposite NCP Car Park).

05.45hr Coach pick up Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA.

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

07.00hr Coach pick up 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent BR8 8EE.

07.45hr Coach pick up Premier Inn, Eureka Leisure Park, Rutherford Road, Ashford TN25 4BN.

08.00hr Pick up at Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone Kent CT21 4BL.

09.20hr Eurotunnel from Folkestone.

11.00hr Arrive Calais.

11.45hr Pick up one traveller at Verloren Gernoare, Stationsplein 3, Adinkerke 8660 (De Panne railway station). Molenhof Oostvleteren

‘t Molenhof Oostvleteren

12.00hr Our first stop is at the beautiful 't Molenhof in Oostvleteren, a beautiful café restaurant. Here we will have our first pre-arranged group meal. If you have not tried their beer Sabayon you should. Chef Pascal's whisked blend of warm Black Albert Imperial Stout Beer and egg yolks is sublime. This place also has an impressive beer menu of over 120 choices. They have 12 brilliant beers on tap which always include some rare brews plus always featuring some specials from De Struise Brouwers across the road.

15.00hr Arrive at the brilliant seafront beer Café Restaurant Venus in Middelkerke. This excellent beer café has a whopping choice of 126 beers for you to choose from, and they carry beers from some of the best brewers in Belgium. Sea views can be had from the picture windows as this café is right on the promenade (Zeedijk).

17.00hr Arrive at Bistro Nieuwege in Varsenare. This is a West Flanders beer gem run by the friendly Didier, Sofie, Jim & Jay. Their beer list in bottles and on draught is staggering. We find it hard to tear our travellers and ourselves away from this place. Didier is bound to have some luscious, rare winter beers on draught for us.

18.45hr Arrive at the four star Hotel Academie in central Bruges. Evening free to explore Bruges armed with copies of Podge’s Bruges Christmas Bar Guide* and map*. For those who would like the full Bruges Bar experience we will have copies for sale of our book Around Bruges in 80 Beers (3rd Edition). d'Oude Maalderij Izegem

d'Oude Maalderij Izegem

Day 2 - Thursday 22 December

10.45hr Following a buffet breakfast in our hotel* we set off on foot the short distance to Kartuizerinnenstraat, the location of the new and long-awaited Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres. Bourgogne des Flandres is an old Bruges beer first produced a few metres away from this spot in 1911. The beer is the only one produced and showcased in this smart new 2016 brewery. The brand is now owned by Martin’s Group who also brew at Timmermans. This beer is a Flemish bruin, but with a difference. Instead of the sourness coming from a blend of young, sweet beer with older more acid beer, this one is made by blending brown beer made here with 8-month-old Timmermans lambic, already aged in wood. This brewery is in the attic of this handsome building and they have a gift shop, canal-side terrace and a comfy tasting room. Here we will have a brewery tour* and a taste of the beer plus a tutored blending session to blend our own perfect Bourgogne des Flandres.

15.00hr For those who would like to buy beers to take home our coach leaves Bargeplein, close to our hotel and marked on Podge’s map for the journey to the brilliant Bierhalle Deconinck beer warehouse in Vichte. This is the best beer warehouse/shop in West Flanders with an unmatched selection of quality beers from all over Belgium and some superb world beers too. They take credit cards.

On the return journey call in at Het Bourgondish Kruis in Deerlijk. This is a great little beer cafe on a busy crossroads with an amazing beer list.

Coach drops at Bargeplein Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Bryggja Brewery Moerkerke

Bryggja Brewery Moerkerke

Day 3 - Friday 23 December

10.00hr Following a buffet breakfast in our hotel* we board the coach at Bargeplein, Bruges and head off for the day.

10.20hr We begin the day with a short drive to the Bryggja Brewery in Moerkerke. Franky’s small enterprise started in late 2014 and we will have a tour of the micro-brewery* and a taste* of some of their beers which are:

Bryggja is an 8.5%abv blond tripel beer and is brewed with belgian hops for a spicy aroma. The name is the Old-Norse name for Bruges.

Amuse is a 6.5%abv blond beer brewed with spices said to excite hunger – thus they consider it an aperitif beer.

Triple B is a 6.5%abv Belgian Style IPA – a collaboration brew with the Bierboom beershop in Bruges. The third ‘B’ is the bear on the label which is the city symbol for Bruges.

Bryggja Bruin 8.0%abv is their latest beer, brewed because their customers asked for a brown beer. It is brewed with spices.

12.00hr Call in at the brand new Viven Brewery near Damme. Tony has been striving to get this brewery open for the last two years, but as of autumn 2016 it has now arrived. We can now see the brewery* and have a taste of some of his beers*. The current range is:

Viven Ale 5.0%abv, brewed with Goldings hops for a fruity taste

Viven Blond 6.1%abv, brewed with Poperinge hops

Viven Bruin 6.1%abv, brewed with Poperinge hops and a malty, liquorice flavour.

Viven Imperial IPA 8.0%abv, brewed with US hops for a citrussy smack

Viven Master IPA 8.0%abv, brewed with German, New Zealand and U.S.A. (citra) hops

Viven Smoked Porter 7.0%abv, a bitter, roast nutty, dark chocolate tasting Porter.

14.00hr Make our way to De Zonnebloem (The Sunflower) in Moerbrugge which is a cafe, restaurant and brewery tap in the centre of the village opposite the Church. You can’t miss it as it is painted bright sunflower orange. Here we have our pre-arranged group meal and a chance of a beer from the Brewery Lambrecht-Van Hamme a couple of doors down. This has been run out of the café’s warehouse from earlier this year. This tiny brewery brews three beers:

Hoppelaar Blond a hoppy 7.5%abv beer.

Moerbrugge Bruin a 6.5%abv dark beer.

Parel (Pearl) Pils a traditional lager of 5.3%abv, named after the café’s little daughter and which contains sunflower seeds and is brewed especially for this café.

Bierkasteel Brasserie Izegem

Van Honsebrouck's Bierkasteel Brasserie in Izegem

16.30hr We call in at the brand newly opened Van Honsebrouck Bierkasteel tasting room and luxury bar within their brewery at Izegem. The new multi-million-euro brewery complex opened in 2016 and they offer a mighty 29 beers on tap covering all their range including their flagship Kasteel beers. We will stop in for a look at this magnificent development and have a beer or two in their comfy brasserie.

18.30hr We have arranged a visit to the Oude Maalderij (The Old Maltings) in Izegem, for a taste of their beers on offer. Most of Jef’s brews are cuckoo brewed at various breweries around Flanders, but for the first time in October 2016, he has started to brew his own. We will get a chance to try his range of beers.

20.00hrish Coach drops at Bargeplein Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Gent in the snow, Gent Watertoerist

Gent in the snow, Gent Watertoerist

Day 4 - Saturday 24 December

10.00hr Following a buffet breakfast in our hotel* we board the coach at Bargeplein, Bruges and head off for the day.

11.00hr Arrive at Ghent at a central street called Poel where the coach can drop and pick up. We'll then have the day in this superb and beautiful Flemish City. This is a huge University town and the student influence is everywhere, but they will be home for Christmas when we are there.

11.15hr Board a Gent Watertoerist covered boat at the Graslei canal in the heart of the city where we will have a 45 minute canal cruise* including a view of the imposing Gravensteen, The Castle of the Counts. We will also have a taste of the ultimate Ghent beer on board*, a Gulden Draak from Van Steenberge. This is a 10.5% deceptively smooth dark beer which uses wine yeast in its secondary fermentation in the (white) bottle. The eponymous golden dragon is the emblem of the city, with the real dragon perching atop the belfry and the cause of legendary fighting for hundreds of years between the people of Bruges and the ‘Gentenaars’. If you want to see him up close you can go up to the top of the Belfry via the steps or a lift. The rest of the day is free to explore central Ghent and its brilliant beer bars, armed with a copy of Podge’s Ghent Bar Guide*.

17.00hr Coach pick up back at Poel where we dropped off – marked on your Podge maps, and very close to where we boarded the boat.

Possible café stop on the way back to Bruges.

19.00hr Coach drops at Bargeplein Bruges for an evening at leisure in the city.

Emelisse Restaurant Kamperland

Emelisse Restaurant Kamperland

Day 5 - Sunday 25 December

11.30hr Following a buffet breakfast in our hotel* we board the coach at Bargeplein, Bruges and head off for Holland via the tunnel under the River Schelde.

12.50hr Arrive at Emelisse Brewery & 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, Brewery Kees! 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 Coach drops at Bargeplein Bruges.

Cafe Welkon Hoeke

Cafe Welkom Hoeke

Day 6 - Monday 26 December

10.00hr Following a buffet breakfast* we check out of Hotel Academie and head off for the last day of our Tour. Today the coach will pick up next to the hotel.

10.30hr Call in at the oldest café in Zeebrugge, the Café Werfje. This old Fisherman’s café is right on the old seafront and was been completely remodelled in 2016 to make it into a beautiful and comfortable café. They have a modest beer list but often feature Rodenbach speciality beers and are famed for matching with local seafood.

12.00hr Pay a visit to the superb beer Cafe Welkom in Hoeke near Damme which is a brilliant, friendly canal-side beer-heaven.

14.00hr Arrive at Café Restaurant Jagershof on the edge of a huge holiday camping area at Bredene on the coast. The café owners are keen on beer cuisine but even keener on Trappist beers. They offer on their menu (and sometimes off-menu) all the world’s Trappist beers – which extend well beyond just those in Belgium these days. We will have our pre-booked group meal here and will have time for a decent crack at those Trappists and perhaps a pancake or two.

17.15hr Leave for Eurotunnel.

18.30hr Arrive Calais.

19.50hr Leave Calais on Eurotunnel.

19.30hr Arrive Folkestone.

19.45hr Coach drop off Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone Kent CT21 4BL.

20.05hr Coach drop Ashford.

20.50hr Coach drop 7 Mays Siding, London Rd, Swanley, Kent BR8 8EE.

21.05hr Coach drop Dartford Railway Station DA1 1BP.

21.45hr Coach drop 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0EA.

22.15hr Coach drop Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA.

22.45hr Coach drop Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3HS (opp NCP Car park).

23.15hr Coach reaches destination Galloways depot, Denters Hill, Mendlesham, Suffolk, IP14 5RR.

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

Single Supplement: £220. Prices are held at our 2015 Christmas tour price.

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 (at bus shelter outside Crown House, Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3HS (opposite NCP Car Park), 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 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.