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Belgium-Lille-Netherlands Trip

Discussion in 'Benelux' started by clintbrimson, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Hello BeerAdvocate community,

    As per usual, I’m a long time reader first time poster and I’d love some advice on my wife and my itinerary for October through the south of Belgium, in and out of the top of France, back through the north of Belgium and then hitting Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam. As you’ll see from our plans our beer tastes span pretty much all styles.

    To give our trip some context, we’re heading to Europe for a bit over a year and this stretch will come after a few weeks in Germany. Money-wise, we’ll be on a reasonably tight budget but outside of costs for accommodation, travel and food the rest will mainly be on our beer related escapades and we’ll also have a bit set aside for a few whales (if we can find ‘em). However, time-wise we can afford to take our time, aside from having to ensure we’re at certain places at certain times to ensure they’re open!

    All beer advice (negative or positive) is obviously appreciated please and also any advice on chocolate, fritkots, coffee, waffles, genever, macarons, pancakes, “coffeeshops” etc etc would also be great!

    Liege (Sun-Mon 6-7 Oct)
    We will hire a car on the Monday to visit Orval and Brasserie d’Achouffe, and to pick up a few bottles from Fantome on our way back to have at our hostel that night. Are there any bars worth hitting the night we get to Liege? Bellavaux and Petit Vaudree are two I’ve read about.

    Tournai (Tues-Wed 8-9 Oct)
    We intend to have lunch at Brasserie de Silly on the Tuesday on the way through to experience its country charm.

    Then on the Wednesday we are going to hire bikes and ride to Du Pont, Vapeur (if it’s open) and Dubuisson from Tournai. A couple of questions here, has anyone had experience doing this from Tournai or is there a better option (keeping in mind we’re on a fairly tight budget and Tournai has a youth hostel for cheap accommodation)? We’re about standard in terms of our bike riding ability.

    Lille (Thurs-Fri 10-11 Oct)
    I’ve read that Hops Café and La Capsule are the absolute musts in Lille and we’re considering a day trip to Wormhout to visit Brasserie Thiriez.

    In terms of other places to visit, I’ve read that Abbaye des Saveurs is a good bottle shop for a few local ales and Kasteelhof is very nice bar. Any other must visits?

    Ieper (Sat 12 Oct)
    We’ll catch one of the first trains leaving Lille for Belgium on the Saturday morning and hopefully be on our bikes by 11ish and riding up to In de Vrede (open from 10am?) for the Holy Grail and then after some time there off to De Struise. Is anyone able to confirm the opening times of De Struise and if we’re able to just rock up and taste or should we book ahead?

    It looks as though we might stay at Jeugdstadion for quite cheap and we can hire bikes from there too.

    Bruges (Sun-Wed 13-16 Oct)
    We intend on squeezing in De Dolle on the Sunday on the way to Bruges. I know the tour is conducted at 2pm but is that the same time that the bar opens?

    Must visit bars will most probably be Brugs Beertje, Garre, De Kelk, Café Rose Red, Herberg Vlissinghe and Poatersgat.

    A day trip to Oostende and lunch at De Bistronoom is a must for us.

    May drop in at De Halve Maan, possible meals at Erasmus and Dyver, and purchase some beers (and absinthe) from De Bierboom for back at our apartment.

    Gent (Thur-Fri 17-18 Oct)
    Will certainly pay a visit to Drankencentrale de Hopduvel and Drunken Geers for takeaways, and I think a visit to the Huyghe Brewery is a must for novelty value if nothing else.

    In terms of beers bars we’ll hit Trollekelder and Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, and a possible selection from Hopduvel, Trappistenhui and Backdoor. How do my priorities look here?

    Brussels (Sat-Sun 19-21 Oct)
    Must stop beer bars are Grote Dorst (Sunday), Becasse, Moeder Lambic, Cantillon and de Heeren.

    With possible visits to Mort Subite, Delirium, Beer Circus and Poechenellekelder, takeaways from Beer Mania and Délices Et Caprices and the beer-centric restaurants of Nuetnigenough and In ‘t Spinnekopke.

    A day trip down to Beersel on the Saturday will hopefully take in 3 Fonteinen, Hanssens, De Cam and lunch at De Rare Vos.

    Antwerp (Tues-Thurs 22-24 Oct)
    Beer bars we’ll head to are Kulminator (obviously), Afspanning De Hand (for a Bolleke and a shot of gist!) and De Groote Witte Arend. We’ll more than likely squeeze in a day trip to Westmalle and Spytighen Duvel and a meal at Pakhuise too.

    I’ve possibly dedicated too many days to Antwerp and may increase Brussels or add more in Netherlands. Any thoughts?

    - admittedly our beer focus drops off a bit from here on -

    Rotterdam (Fri-Sat 25-26 Oct)
    Bierlokaal Locus Publicus for a few and De Man van Drank for takeaways are the two I have down currently.

    Utrecht (Sun-Mon 27-28 Oct)
    Lunch and beers at de Molen on our way through.

    Bars in Utrecht of Café Derat and De Drie Dorstige Herten, and Bert’s Bierhuis for takeaways.

    Amsterdam (Tues-Fri 29 Oct-1 Nov)
    Possible beer bar visits to Arendsnest, In De Wildeman, Beer Temple, De Spuyt and De Gekraakte Ketel, and visits to De Ooievaar and In de Olofspoort.

    So, given our parameters what are peoples’ opinions of our plans? Too much of not a lot in some places or not enough time in others? Would love to hear your feedback and thanks very much in advance!

    Cheers.
     
  2. trevorjk

    trevorjk Savant (320) Netherlands Aug 28, 2009

    Bruges, add De Struise Brouwers to your list.

    North of Rotterdam is De Molen, That should also be added to your list. Just saw you mentioned them on your way to Uttrecht :)

    Thats it off the top of my head. I just moved to the area from Chicago. So i am also picking up information as i go and i to am reading A LOT of threads based on the area. Enjoy! Maybe we could grab a beer in Rotterdam :)
     
    clintbrimson likes this.
  3. De gekraakte ketel is no longer opened. We should meet up in Utrecht.
    As for coffeeshops I suggest Starbucks. They are awesome.;)
     
  4. About Westvleteren; check my info i post regularly here on the Benelux forum. Struise is open on the Saturdays from 14.00 till 18.00 hours if i am correct.

    Westmalle is a place to skip, not interesting to be honest. I prefer Antwerps above Brussels but that is because i hate sours, hahahaha.

    Thijs
     
    clintbrimson likes this.
  5. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (500) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004

    Amsterdam coffeeshop: Homegrown Fantasy on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal.

    In Rotterdam I'd suggest makinmg the trip out to Pelgrim, a homebrew pub a little out of the cventr in Delfshaven, the only nice bit of the city.
     
    clintbrimson and doopiedoopiedoo like this.
  6. Jwale73

    Jwale73 Advocate (705) Rhode Island Aug 15, 2007

    Dude - that is an amazing itinerary!
     
  7. Skip rotterdam and travel 10 km further to Delft, stop on by at my bottleshop Flink Gegist: http://flinkgegist.nl/ and we'll go for a drink at Biercafe Doerak or 't klooster. Hell, I'll even give you a tour through Delft.
     
  8. Sounds good but I'll pass on Starbucks thanks :) Not really the coffee or the experience that we're chasing!
     
  9. Done and done!
     
  10. Sounds like an amazing itinerary, and damn if you guys don't plan in advance! My only suggestion is for Amsterdam - pay a trip to the Brouwerij 't IJ. You can get their beers in some of the bars you've mentioned, but I think the brewery itself is worth a visit - they have their own windmill :)

    www.brouwerijhetij.nl/

    Have fun!
     
  11. It probably looks pretty obsessive but we've literally been saving for this trip for years and counting down for years and the more research that we do the closer it makes it feel. We're pretty particular in what we like to eat and drink and although there are times that it's good to not research and walk off the beaten path this is a time where we don't want to waste 5 euros having a reasonable beer in an OK bar when we could be having a great beer in an amazing bar...

    Thanks for the advice!
     
    Jwale73 likes this.
  12. schuim

    schuim Initiate (0) Netherlands Aug 7, 2008

    Next to Amsterdam is Haarlem, 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam and a lovely authentic city, that used to be the main brewingtown of Holland. Visit one of the newest Dutch breweries the Jopenkerk (build in a former church), pick up some beers at Melgers Dranken and top it of with a beer at Cafe Briljant.

    Have fun!
     
  13. swank

    swank Initiate (20) Feb 11, 2013

    Hi there,
    I hope this post is not too late.
    Given that you are traveling to these locations during the month of October and will be exploring some beer styles, I recommend focusing more on the splendid beer selections in Belgium. I can't recommend beers from Holland because I have never been there. (Try their monastery beers -they are very good.) I hope you have tried one of the Westvleveren brands. If not it should be first on your list and then Orval etc. You will be astounded by the beer selection in Brugge. No so much in Antwerp. Belgium bars including Brasseries can be a jackpot if it has a reputation behind it and may or may not be frequented by tourists. Look for up and coming local breweries outside of Brussels -these are the hidden gems. Good luck and have a safe and sound trip.
     
  14. oregonskibum

    oregonskibum Savant (430) Oregon Mar 14, 2009

    Wow - this thread has helped my early research on a Belgium trip already! My wife and I have been talking about going back to Europe for a while now (2004 was the last trip). So this past weekend, we booked using points on United, flying into Copenhagen (11/1/13) and flying out of Brussels (10/19/13). Beyond that, we have an open slate. We know we have a friend to visit in Berlin at some point and my wife really wants to spend some time in Denmark, since that's where her family is from. And of course I want to spend some time in Belgium because of the beer (although it's not a beer tour...hmmmm...right...).

    One question for the BA community. I've read and will continue going back in time to get advice on places to visit. But are there any events or big releases typically planned in the mid part of October in Belgium? Unlike the OP, my intinerary is just being built. So if there's something interesting going on in Belgium (or Germany or Denmark for that matter, even though that's a different board) during the early to mid part of October, I would like to know as we could build our trip around that.

    And finally, if anyone wants to do an in person trade and sees something from Oregon they would love to try, let me know. I'll eventually post my own thread on the topic (since the trip is months way), but just wanted to throw that out there.

    Cheers.
     
  15. swank

    swank Initiate (20) Feb 11, 2013

    Yes, they do but not in October! There is Poperinge Hopfeesten held in a hop growing region every three years but that doesn't mean you can't visit their hop farms. http://www.toerismepoperinge.be/en Then there is Zythos Bier Fest in Leuven held every April. Further along the months you have Adriaan Brouwer Bierfeesten in Oudenaarde every June. If you are interested in visiting beer museums check out La Maison des Brassieres http://www.beerparadise.be just off Le Grand Place! I hope this helps. Good luck and have a safe, sound trip.
     
  16. schuim

    schuim Initiate (0) Netherlands Aug 7, 2008

    Oktober is traditional Bokbier season in Holland. There are a lot of Bokbeer festivals during October and November. If you google on Bokbier festival that time, plenty will pop up, are mail when your heading this direction and we will inform you ;-)
     
  17. DStoked

    DStoked Savant (320) Ohio Sep 28, 2011

    I'm coming to Belgium for a week in May. Put these places in order, from must-see to not-missing-much...

    Brussels
    Westvleteren
    Gent
    Antwerp
    Bruges
    Ansterdam

    Feel like I'm trying to pack too much into a week, but I'd love to see them all.
     
  18. Thank you to everyone for every single bit of advice! It's still a long way off til we go but our list of places that we have to possibly visit is awesome! I've been given a bit of everything and it's very much appreciated. I will do a report back once I get a bit of down time! Thanks again.
     
  19. swank

    swank Initiate (20) Feb 11, 2013

    All of them are equally good but it depends on what will lure you to one city over the other. There could be events and promotions running in one city as opposed to something similar in another but not as inviting. From what direction are you coming from? By plane? Car? If your are landing in Brussels Airport then you visit the capital and decide which restaurants and bars to patronize. Don't miss the Hard Rock Cafe-it's not an American version! On the next day go to Bruges and if you have time move on to visit Antwerp. The following day - Gent and Westvleteren. Save your energy for Amsterdam for last. I hear there is so much ground to cover! Good luck and have fun!
     
  20. HalfHysteric

    HalfHysteric Disciple (50) Nevada Jan 6, 2010

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