Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 96 / LambicLand Revisited 2019

Wednesday 1 May 2019 – Monday 6 May 2019

This six day Tour is our classic tour exploring the world's most complex beers, the lambic beers of the Zenne Valley, west of Brussels. It is guided by Siobhan McGinn, co-writer with her husband Podge and Tim Webb of the book LambicLand (2004, 2010). Siobhan's expertise in Belgium's quirky spontaneous fermented beers goes back over 25 years and she will take you to the best lambic cafes in LambicLand to sample this unique beer style. This tour co-incides with the bi-annual lambic brewer/blender open days, the Toer de Geuze. Over six days we will endeavour to visit all of LambicLand's spontaneous beer brewers and blenders, with the exception of Girardin who do not like their lambic disturbed by visitors (!) and Cantillon in Brussels who do not take part in the Toer de Geuze.

Welkom Dworp

Thirsty work at Cafe In de Welkom, Dworp.

This Tour is based at the excellent four star Hotel Keizershof in the centre of Aalst, a great base for exploring LambicLand, as you can see in Podge's Aalst Bar Guide.

This Tour is still being built but for more detail have a look below for visits arranged so far. Keep an eye on this page or subscribe to our monthly newsletters for updates. Why not join us on this Tour? To secure a place please send a deposit of £120 per person. Please send Siobhan an email or call her on +44 (0)1245 354677 to find out how to pay the deposit or if you have any questions about this Tour.

LambicLand Revisited – Toer De Gueuze 2019 - detailed itinerary

Day 1 - Wednesday 1 May

Very early! Coach pick up at Galloways Depot, Denters Hill, Mendlesham, Suffolk, IP14 5RR.

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

07.00hr Coach pick up at BP Garage (formerly Esso), 474 Princes Road, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1YT.

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

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

09.20hr Eurotunnel Train crossing from Folkestone.

11.00hr Arrive Calais.

12.30hr Our first stop is at the beautiful restaurant-bar Au Nouveau Saint Eloi in Watou. This lovely rural café sports a beer card of 150 choices including a fair few lambics if you want to get in the mood. Here we will have our first group meal and a crack at their ye olde Flemish pub games which usually involve throwing things.

15.00hr Leave Au Nouveau Saint Eloi in Watou and proceed to Aalst in East Flanders our base for the next five nights, stopping off on the way for a beer or two.

19.00hr Arrive in Aalst and make our way to the centrally located luxury four star Hotel Keizershof. Travellers have the evening free to explore the cafes, bars and restaurants of Aalst armed with Podge’s Aalst Bar Guide and Map*.

The magic cooling of lambic to capture airborne wild yeasts, a beer 'in love with the wind'.

Day 2 - Thursday 2 May

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* we leave the hotel by coach for a day in the Payottenland which will include:

14.30hr Lunch at the classic lambic bar and restaurant De Heeren van Liedekercke in Denderleeuw where Joost and his family have been selling lambic beers for some years, long before the modern resurgence of their popularity.

Wooden casks of Boon lambic beer.

Day 3 - Friday 3 May

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* we leave the hotel by coach for a look into the mysteries of lambic beers:

10.30hr We have arranged a visit Armand DeBelder's new venture, the 3Fonteinen Lambic O droom in Lot. In 2016 legendary brewer and blender Armand Debelder and his partners converted a former ice cream warehouse in Lot into a new complex designed to centralise the breweries operations and allow visitors to see the end-to-end processes of Lambic beer making. As we will see, it houses a coolship, blending facilities, barrel-ageing rooms, a bottling plant, a bar, tasting rooms and a shop. We’ll have a taste of Armand’s lambic here*. We visited in 2017 and hopefully his then newly planted Schaarbeek cherry orchard is coming along well. Though 3Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek is a premium price, it is counted by many as one of the world's great beers. and a true taste of the terroir.

14.15hr We proceed to the brilliant Grill-Restaurant Bolekewis in Dworp for something to eat and a beer or two from their impressive menu of Lambic beers.

16.00hr We pay a visit to the Oud Beersel Geuzestekerij in Beersel for a guided tour* around the old brewery museum, the current blendery and a special tasting* in their superb suite of comfy modern tasting rooms. They are the creators of Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek and the newer mixed fermentation Bzart sparkling range.

18.300hr Arrive back in the friendly city of Aalst for a crack at its great beer cafes and restaurants.

Oude Beersel, Oude Gueuze.

Day 4 - Saturday 4 May

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* our coach leaves the hotel.

10.30hr We make a special visit to a café that is opening just for us - the famed In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst (The Insurance Against Thirst) in Eizeringen run by the Paneels family who re-opened this gorgeous café in recent years and have an unrivalled selection of lambics, geuzes and krieks. They have a selection of vintage beers and hopefully they still have some Eylenbosch left from the closed lambic brewery down the road. They may even have beers from new lambic blender, Raf Souvereyns under the name Bokkereyder who has worked out of Limburg Province since 2013, far from the Zenne valley. You'll recognise his bottles from the logo of a goat hiding behind a tree. He has around 100 wine oak casks and blends lambic worts from De Troch, Girardin and Lindemans. Raf has blended dozens of beers, picking cherries for his kriek lambic and using his neighbours peaches. He has also made a blend called Druiven using local grapes. This is a superb addition to the lambic-cafe scene usually open only on a Sunday.

12.00hr Timmermans in Itterbeek. This is the oldest lambic brewery still working and dates from 1702 and again there are opportunities to sample their many lambic-based beers.

14.45hr We will have lunch at the world famous 3Fonteinen Restaurant in the traditional heartland lambic town, Beersel. Here we will have our pre-booked beer cuisine lunch and a chance to sample a great selection of lambic beers 3Fonteinen brewery but best go for the yong or young lambic on draught from 3Fonteinen which is around one year old, or as the brewers prefer to say 'has seen one summer'.

17.00hr Leave 3Fonteinen Restaurant in Beersel.

17.15hr We pay a visit to the giant and ever-expanding Lindemans Brewery in Vlezenbeek. Now being run by the 7th generation, they started as a barley farm which made lambic on the side during the winter to employ workers year-round. By the 1930’s, brewing was so successful, they gave up farming. Go for the Oude Gueuze Cuvée René and Oude Kriek Cuvée René if you want the real deal.

18.15hr Leave Lindemans Brewery in Vlezenbeek.

18.30hr Visit De Troch at Wambeek. This is a small, attractive lambic brewery housed in a still-recognizable farm around three sides of a square. It has a very old chimney, square in profile, pre-dating the more ubiquitous round brewery chimney. Most of the production of this brewery goes into sweet commercial beers, but the real lambic they make is superb.

19.30hr Leave De Troch Brewery in Wambeek.

19.45hrish Arrive back in the friendly city of Aalst for a crack at its great beer cafes and restaurants.

3Fonteinen Oude Geuze Bottles 37.5cl having a rest

3Fonteinen Oude Geuze Bottles 37.5cl having a rest.

Lambic Fermentation - One to Three Years in Wood

Lambic Fermentation - One to Three Years in Wood

Day 5 - Sunday 5 May

10.00hr After a leisurely breakfast* we set off by coach for the biennial Toer de Geuze. Over the years the Toer de Geuze has attracted more and more people and each venue gets quite crowded with people enjoying these open days and beers. We hope to have about an hour and a half at each venue and will announce exact times to be back on the bus on the day. At most of the venues you can buy a snack to eat on the hoof. For each Toer de Geuze all of the members of HORAL contribute towards a special Oude Geuze beer brewed for the occasion and you should see bottles for sale at each of the venues of HORAL Mega Blend 2019. As a special experience for travellers, Siobhan will open some very special bottles from her and Podge's cellar for everyone to taste which is the HORAL Megablend 2009, the first ever Megablend produced which is now 20 years old.

Here is the order we will go for:-

10.30hr Mort Subite in Kobbegem.

11.30hr Leave Mort Subite Brewery in Kobbegem.

12.00hr Hanssens in Dworp. There will be a chance to try rare beers from this blender including Hanssens Lambic Cassis, Hanssens Lambic Raspberry and Hanssens Kriek Lambic Schaerbeekse (in limited quantities) for tastings and purchases.

13.15hr Leave Hanssens in Dworp.

13.30hr We proceed to probably the biggest lambic, Geuze and Kriek producer, Boon Brewery in Lembeek where you can see the new brewery which Frank and his son Karel have built. We can have a taste of a beer or two here.

14.30hr Leave Boon Brewery in Lembeek.

14.45hr Arrive at the most southerly member of the traditional geuze and kriek makers, Tilquin in Bierghes (Rebecq). Pierre Tilquin holds a two-day open brewery event on the weekend of the Toer de Geuze, where you can have a tour of his blendery and barrel rooms. His beers will be for sale at the bar and you can buy bottles to take away at the shop. They have food stalls and a bouncy castle. Pierre may have available Gueuze à l'ancienne and Gueuze on draft plus his Quetsche à l'ancienne a beer with Alsatian Purple Plums on lambic, refermented in the bottle. Look out also for the Mûre à l'ancienne, a blackberry lambic refermented in the bottle.

15.45hr Leave Tilquin in Bierghes.

16.00hr De Cam in Gooik. This is a tiny blender and is a good one to pick if you want a mini tour. By the way, Karel the blender is passionate about lambic beer, almost out-doing Armand DeBelder in his enthusiasm for this beer and I would say that his Raspberry Lambic was the best beer I have ever tasted, a few years ago in the yard at De Cam.

18.00hrish Arrive back in Aalst. We hope to arranged for beer café, shop and tasting room Café Shop Ambarosa to open for us specially this evening so that we can try some regional beers which they specialise in including the excellent beers from Erpe-Mere brewer Glazen Toren. You can also buy bottles to takeaway and there are local snacks too.

De Cam Geuze & Kriek Blenders, Gooik.

Day 6 - Monday 6 May

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

We'll make a visit to a top beer warehouse to stock up on beers to take home, especially any special lambics you didn't get to try on Tour (an unlikely event). This last day is still being built but will involve a group meal and a last stop at a great Flemish beer cafe before we go home.

18.30hr Arrive Calais.

19.36hr Leave Calais on Eurotunnel train crossing.

19.30hr Arrive Folkestone.

19.45hr Coach drop Stop24 J11 M20, Kent CT21 4BL.

20.00hr Coach drop Premier Inn, Eureka Leisure Park, Rutherford Rd, Ashford TN25 4BN.

21.00hr Coach drop Dartford Railway Station DA1 1BP.

21.40hr Coach drop off The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN.

21.55hr Coach drop off at Premier Inn Victoria Road, Chelmsford CM1 1NY.

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

Wood casks of lambic beer bearing the Lindemans chalk mark.

Tour Price is £885 per person sharing a twin or double room

Single Supplement: £225

If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller please contact Siobhan 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 above and on the individual detailed tour itinerary when issued;

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 an email or call on +44 (0)1245 354677.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.

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