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Ales of Belgium and France
Next Departure: May 25 - June 4, 2017
Departs every year in May/June
Northern France and southern Belgium share a meandering, often
invisible border that traverses one of the worthiest beer regions
on earth. Biere de Garde, Trappists, and Saison producers are all
well represented in this compact area. We begin and end in Brussels
-- with stays in the windmill capped, hill-top city of Cassel, France;
beautiful, untouristed Tournai; and Bouillon -- in the shadow of
one of Europe's finest examples of fortified castles. Small breweries
with eager brewmasters, traditional Flemish estaminets with great
local food and beers, and a selection of worthy cultural sites await.
Don't worry if you've haven't heard of these small artisanal breweries,
that's why they're so good!
Day 1, Thursday - Travel Day
Fly to Europe
Day 2, Friday - Walking Tour/Pub Crawl, Welcome Dinner
Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel near the bustling Grand Place
of Brussels. This afternoon, meet the group for a walking tour/pub
crawl en route to our Welcome Beer Dinner.
Day 3, Saturday - Brewery Visit with Lunch
This morning we depart Brussels to visit De Dolle brewery. We will
have lunch at the cafe near Westvleteren, visit a pub in
Poperinge and continue to Cassel, France for the night.
Day 4, Sunday - Two French Farm Brewers
You have the morning free to explore Cassel, a fortified town built
on the highest hill in the area. In the afternoon we will
take a beer excursion to Thiriez brewery, a small brewery set in
an old farmhouse. We will return to Cassel for a local tour
of the town and dinner at Estaminet 'T Kasteelhof atop Mont Cassel.
Day 5, Monday - La Choulette
Transfer today to Tournai, our home for the next three nights.
On the way we will of course make a couple beer stops: this morning
we will visit a brewery and have lunch. Afterwards we will continue
towards Tournai with another brewery visit en route. Tonight is
free in Tournai.
Day 6, Tuesday - Dupont, Vapeur, Dubuisson
This morning is free until our early afternoon tour of Brasserie
Dupont, the quintessential farmhouse brewery. Later we'll head down
the road to Pipaix to visit the living museum and steam brewery
-- Brasserie A Vapeur. Tour, taste and dine in their historic environment.
Day 7, Wednesday - City Tour & Free Day
Morning guided tour of Tournai, including a bit of the city's rich
history and architecture. The afternoon and evening are free to
enjoy Belgium's untouristed, second oldest city.
Day 8, Thursday - Brewery visits en route to Bouillon
This morning we'll get back on the beer bus to transfer to Bouillon.
On the way we'll visit fine brewery Abbaye des Rocs. Afterwards
we'll travel the short way to Brasserie Blaugies where we'll enjoy
a tour, tasting and lunch. Continue to Bouillon for overnight.
Day 9, Friday - Castles and Kayaking
Today is free to visit the great Crusader Godfrey de Bouillon's
fortified castle and explore this lovely Ardennes vacation town.
A pub crawl this evening is a likely scenario. An optional
Kayak trip is available today.
Day 10, Saturday - Orval, Beer Museum Farewell Beer Dinner
This morning, we'll board the beer bus again and drive the short
way to Orval, where we'll have a tour of the brewery, visit the
public parts of the abbey grounds and drink their world-class ale
in the local pub. Return to Brussels after the visit. The afternoon
and evening are free until our farewell dinner in beer friendly
Day 11, Sunday - End of the trip...
Alas, time to go home.
& Brewery Visits
Kerkom, Orval, Blaugies, Abbaye Des Rocs, La Choulette,
Thiriez, Beck, Dupont, Vapeur, De Dolle... oh my!
1 nights Brussels
2 nights Cassel
3 nights Tournai
2 nights Bouillon
1 nights Brussels
City Tours in Brussels and Tournai, Castle Visit Bouillon
(Land-only, Based on double occupancy)
$2995 per person
Single Room add $595
Arrival & Departure
Trip Begins & Ends in Brussels, Belgium
The overall style of the trip is best suited for somewhat adventurous,
beer-loving travelers who want the camaraderie and structure of
a tour, as well as the opportunity to explore independently. Planned
events and excursions will, for the most part, be informal. Guided
touring is generally the exception, though travelers can always
rely on the support and assistance of the trip leader.
* Please note also:
This itinerary is subject to change based on brewery or hotel
availability, force majeur, acts of dieties, common sense or bad
weather, etc. Smaller breweries, as well as the Trappists, are often
unable to commit to hosting groups until a couple of weeks before
we arrive. Substitutions, when necessary, will be as good or better
than what we replaced. And, don't worry, the beer is always good!