Belgium Belgium Beer Trip

Discussion in 'Europe' started by luisfrancisco, Aug 28, 2013.

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  1. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    Hi all,

    I am planning a week-long trip to Belgium, almost exclusively to visit bars and breweries. I will be going with my wife and maybe one or two other couples. I will mostly be driving around. Although maybe I will need to leave the car at some places to be able to drink. I would appreciate any comments on my choices of the places and routes. Also if you have any suggestions on places to stay, those would be appreciated. For example I haven't decided how to stay in Brussels. Since I want to dine at both Drie Fonteinen and DHvL, maybe staying one night each near those places could be a good idea, so as not to drive there and back from Brussels. Or maybe just stay in town and catch a train. Anyways, I thank you in advance for any tips and suggestions. Also, please let me know if you know of any advance reservations that need to be made.

    Here is my first draft of an itinerary:

    Belgium April 2014:

    Tuesday 8: Arrival to CDG 9:40am. Rent a car. Drive (2 hrs. 15 min) to Watou to St. Bernardus Bed & Breakfast and brewery. Check-in at B&B. Rent bikes to go to In de Vrede (Westvleteren). 35 min. bike ride each way. Sleep at B&B.

    Wednesday 9: Drive (51 min.) to Rodenbach Brewery. Tour. Continue driving to (32 min) a Brugge to spend the day. Possible visits to De Struise tasting room and De Garre Pub. Leave in the evening towards Antwerpen (1 hr. 12 min). Check in to hotel. Dinner at Kulminator

    Thursday 10: Visit to De Konick and Duvel Moortgart. Leave in the evening to Brussels (42 min).

    Friday 11: Visit to Cantillon and wander around in Brussels. Delirium Tremens and Moeder Lambic Pubs. Dinner at De Heeren van Liedekercke.

    Saturday 12: Lembeek region (outside of Brussels). Boon, Drie Fonteinen (dinner there), Dupont (a bit further out).
    · Possible non-beer visits to Beersel castle and Waterloo.

    Sunday 13: Drive early to Fantôme (1 hr. 25 min) lunch at Brewpub. Drive (1 hr. 26 min) to Orval visit shop and abbey. Drive in the evening to Paris (2 hrs. 55 min)

    Monday 14: Paris - non-beer day for the wife. Maybe a visit to la fine mousse.

    Tuesday 15: Depart from CDG at 11:30 am.
  2. dirtylou

    dirtylou Poo-Bah (3,336) May 12, 2005 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Best to take inventory if its even possible to do some of these things on the days you've chosen. The De Struise tasting room (Schoolhouse), for instance, is only open 2-6pm on Saturday only.

    Touring breweries isn't easy. With the exception of Cantillon, you absolutely need to book in advance.
  3. deeblo

    deeblo Initiate (56) Dec 17, 2011 Antarctica
    Beer Trader

    This looks like a pretty aggressive schedule with a lot of driving. I'd suggest cutting out a few breweries. Like dirtylou mentioned, not all are open to visitors or have regular tours, and most won't have any special beers that you can't get elsewhere.

    Some other suggestions:
    • 't Brugs Beertje is a great bar in Bruges but is closed on Wednesdays.
    • Kulminator doesn't serve dinner, just some meat and cheese I think. If you want to eat at a beer bar in Antwerp, I'd recommend Gollem.
    • You can book a room for the night at DHVL.
    • In De Verzekering Tegen De Grote Dorst is a must visit if you like lambic but is only open on Sundays.
    I think he meant the Struise beer shop in Bruges.
    Jwale73 likes this.
  4. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the pointers. And yes, I meant the beer shop in Bruges and not the actual brewery tasting room for Struise. Good to know there's no dinner at Kulminator. It is still an absolute must-visit, right?

    Any particular candidate you see on the list that I should skip?

    I do plan on contacting the breweries at some point and see if I can visit. I would still want to go to some (maybe not all) of them even if it meant just going to the tasting room and not getting an actual tour, provided that it would still be a good opportunity to try some of their beer in an interesting setting.
  5. Ruds

    Ruds Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    Bear in mind that the Struise beer shop in Brugge will only have 2 or 3 beers in bladder bags in the fridge, often commonish ones.

    If you're a big fan of Struise you do need to hit the Old School on the Saturday afternoon.

    I wouldn't be overly excited about Delirium Tremens, place has had its day for me, but each to their own.
    trevorjk likes this.
  6. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    I've not had many Struise beers, in fact I think only Pannepot. Unless I reversed completly the direction of my traveling (not impossible), Saturday would seem hard. Would you say I should try to do this?

    Also noted about the Delirium Tremens pub. I've actually never been to any of these places. I just put it on the list because of its supposedly insane bottle list, but considering the other places I will be visiting during the week, maybe I will just scrap that one. I already had a better feeling about Moeder Lambic while in Brussels, and I assume I could spend a long time at Cantillon.
  7. JCDenver

    JCDenver Initiate (142) Feb 8, 2010 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I would recommend stopping by La Cave a Bulles in Paris. Simon really knows his french beer, and he hooked me up with some really good stuff I never would have known about otherwise. Delirum is totally skippable, and Fontinais is the better Moeder location. Personally, I would also skip Fantome. His beer has been undrinkable lately. Just my two cents. The Struise beer shop in Bruges has plenty of stuff. Unfortunately, I was only able to look longingly through the window when I was there last week (they are closed Sunday and Monday). De Garre, t'Brugs, and Bierbrasserie Cambrinus are all worthy stops in Bruges as well. Re: Cantillon, you could easily spend a half day there and be very, very happy.
    tonefiend likes this.
  8. Ruds

    Ruds Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    I would leave Struise to your own judgement. If you don't know their beers that well then maybe don't worry about re-planning your trip. I love Struise so I would shuffle the pack for them but your trip, your call.

    You'd find 2 or 3 beers at the shop in Brugge plus maybe 5-8 bottles.

    At the Old School you may get around 20 on tap plus a lot more of the interesting ones.
  9. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Kulminator doesn't do food. Snacks only.
  10. beeraroundtown

    beeraroundtown Initiate (32) Oct 11, 2008 Oregon

    Don't plan on lunch at Fantome... unless you want some instant soup packets. Also, email Dany ahead of time to make sure he will be there.

    Like others have said, try to do less so you have more time at each.

    I would probably just spend the night in Brugge on Wednesday, that city is beautiful, especially at night. Then do the next day in Antwerp.
  11. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    Some updates, and a shameless bump of this thread...

    I will not be able to go to DHVL as it will be closed for holidays. Sooo sad about this. Anyone know of a half decent replacement in Brussels or Lambic region to have dinner???

    De Konick will also be closed until late 2014 for brewery tours.

    I will now probably stay overnight in Brugges on Wednesday, and Thursday will sleep over in Antwerp.
  12. trevorjk

    trevorjk Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, If you want to do Westvleteren. Make sure it is on a Saturday afternoon so that you can stop at De Struise and TRULY have a beer vacation.

    Also, with your driving times... IF there is a traffic jam, you can easily add an hour to your drive time.

    Do not forget that Netherlands is only an hour or so drive from Antwerp. Netherlands is the hidden gem between Germany and Belgium :wink:
  13. verbalessence

    verbalessence Initiate (24) Jul 3, 2013 Belgium

    Nuetnigenough, this is quite nice in the center of Brussels, you can check the website for the menu and beer list. They also have some specials not on the site, both beer and food.
    uturn and mathieu87 like this.
  14. Jwale73

    Jwale73 Poo-Bah (3,605) Aug 15, 2007 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    Skip Delirium Cafe - big letdown. Just stay at Modeder Lambic.
  15. ventura78

    ventura78 Aspirant (270) Nov 22, 2003 Massachusetts

    I like Delirium. I usually go early, get one of the sears catalogs ( beer list ) for myself and look for rare stuff. It's worth a visit, you may end up liking it.
  16. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Disciple (363) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    It is admirably ambitious itinerary. For Struise, depending on timing you might find more of their stuff at other shops (and I'm tempted to say, outside of Belgium) as I've had the experience of them not having much on hand.

    To attempt to go to Delirium on a Friday, don't put it off past mid-afternoon, if you really do want to be able to spend time with a list and get served what you order.

    Pity about DHVL but Nuetnigenough is indeed a cool place if you're staying somewhere central. For more of an 'event' kind of meal, there's decent if sometimes not crisply executed beer cuisine at Restobieres. You can eat OK (or middlingly) with a fabulous list at Bier Circus. Les Brigittines is a more refined option with the most special-occasion vibe of these places. I like La Villette for the belges classic dishes, with a fine list of beers, but food comes first there. Spinnekopke has slipped but still churns out beer-infused standards and actually carries at least some of the brews on its menu.
  17. Tut

    Tut Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2004 New York

    Agree on Delirium, but Moeder Lambic isn't the only good beer cafe in Brussels. Bier Circus has a great beer list - sit at the bar rather than at tables in the restaurant area. There are others as well. Spending all ones time at Moeder is shortchanging your experience.
  18. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    About De Struise... like I said above, I do not know their beers at all. I once had a Pannepot and thought it was great, but I see there are a lot of stouts and other stuff that people rave about. I am drafting a reversed order trip, so that I can be at Westvleteren on Saturday; and everything seems to work just fine, except maybe I will not be able to visit Rodenbach, as they only do tours Mon-Thurs. If I am planning on being near Westvleteren on Saturday, it seems Rodenbach would have to go.

    Would you guys say it is worth it? I do like Rodenbach and sort of their history as a brewery, but would be OK with skipping it if the experience at De Struise is really worth it.

    Also, thanks a bunch on the suggestions for Brussels, I will keep those in mind. I appreciate your input a lot and you not just referring me to a bunch of other threads or sites. I have actually been doing research (read Michael Jackson's book, and am waiting for a new edition of Tim Webb's), but first-hand experiences and recommendations are still invaluable.
  19. trevorjk

    trevorjk Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

    De Struise is WELL worth it. Probably one of the best places to visit to get a beer and see what is actually going on in a brewery. Not to mention, the people at De Struise are awesome. The tap list in the classroom is usually 20+ deep ranging from simple IPA (hopverdomme) to huge IIPA's such as Elliot Brew, to world class and sought after stouts like Black Berry Albert, to insane quads from Pannepot to Barrel aged Pannepot to others.

    I would not pass up De Struise if you have the opportunity to go there.
    azorie and BierMeJohn like this.
  20. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Disciple (363) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    But Rodenbach is more of a can't-happen-anywhere-else kind of Belgian beer thing. Can't go wrong, really.
  21. SStein

    SStein Zealot (509) Dec 26, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Going from Westvleteran to De Struise on Saturday is one of the best 1-2 punches in Belgium. The only other one I really enjoyed as much is Drie Fountenien to Cantillon. Eat at Drie Fountenien then go around the corner to the shop. Then head up the road to Cantillon.
    trevorjk likes this.
  22. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    Hey guys, here's an updated trip. This seems closer to the final arrangements. I decided to scratch Orval and Phantome, and to keep Rodenbach. It was a though decision, since Orval is one of my absolute favourite beers, but it seems like there is not much to tour at the brewery. Apparently they only show you the monastery. Any comments??

    Tuesday 8: Arrive to CDG 9:40am. Rent a car. Drive to Rodenbach (2 hrs 14 min) Brewery tour at 14:00. Drive to Brussels to sleep (1 hr 13 min).

    Wednesday 9: Visit to Cantillon and otherwise spend time in Brussels. Delirium Tremens/Bier Circus and Moeder Lambic Pubs. Dinner at Nuetnigenough

    Thursday 10: Leembik region (outside Brussels). Boon, Drie Fonteinen (lunch), Dupont (a bit further out).
    · Possible visits to Berseel Castle and Waterloo.

    Friday 11: Drive to Antwerp. (50 min.) Visit Duvel Moortgart. Snacks at Kulminator. Dinner at Gollem.

    Sturday 12: Drive (1 hr. 40 min) to De Struise Schoolhouse (2-6pm). Continue to Watou to St. Bernardus. Check-in at B&B.

    Sunday 13: Rent a bike to visit In de Vrede (Westvleteren). (35 min. each way) Drive back to Paris (2 hr. 50 min).

    Monday 14: Paris

    Thursday 15: Fly out of CDG.
  23. ventura78

    ventura78 Aspirant (270) Nov 22, 2003 Massachusetts

  24. Hopbomber

    Hopbomber Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2013 United Kingdom (England)

    I've just come back from a week in Belgium, been many times love it dearly. Drank a lot of beer and visited a few breweries. However, Belgium is an extraordinary country wonderful architecture, art, History and full of natural beauty OP if you have any interests other than beer, Surely you do right? try and see some other stuff that interests you. Respect beer, but also respect the country you are visiting Beer is just one of the many virtues of Belgium!
    Tut, verbalessence and bushycook like this.
  25. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    Thanks, I actually do have other interests and have visited Belgium in the past a couple of times. Last time was about 10 years ago, and I did not know about the beer I was missing. Still thought Belgium was a beautiful country. While I have visited Brussels and Brugges, I have never been to Antwerp. I do enjoy walking around cities and towns, going into museums and stuff like that. Of course I will try to do some non-beer related stuff, but this time around, the main purpose of the trip is beer.
    Hopbomber likes this.
  26. Tut

    Tut Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2004 New York

    Given your one day in Brussels, I'd skip Delirium Cafe entirely. It's a waste of your time. Drunk kids and college bar atmosphere. Both Bier Circus and Moeder Lambic are far better. You'll barely have enough time to do those two justice. Sit at bar at the back of Bier Circus so you can talk with owner Patrick and other patrons. Ask him about any unusual beers not on the list.
  27. jdhende

    jdhende Disciple (306) Sep 27, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I'm pretty much stealing everything from this thread.

    Cantillon & 3F on Friday November 15th. Then DeStruisse at night.

    Saturday - De molen tasting with the brewer set up by a gracious Belgium BA - bartjebeergeek. This is going to be awesome. If any other Belgium Ba's will be attending in this thread I look forward to meeting you all.

    Wednesday November 20th - Visiting hopefully Bier Circus and Moeder Lambic
    belvedere86 and andrejes like this.
  28. Hopbomber

    Hopbomber Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2013 United Kingdom (England)

    Seconded on this, delirium is pretty dreadful and Delices and Caprices have shut down so no reason to go to that part of town. Moeder Lambic is good but despite having 40 taps other than Cantillon beers on cask I found little to get too excited about.
  29. Padraig

    Padraig Initiate (181) Jan 14, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    There's no accounting for personal taste. Went to Bier Circus yesterday for the first time and was pretty under-whelmed by the selection although I did have a fresh Belle-Fleur that I really enjoyed.

    The clowns were a total buzz-kill. I hate clowns.
  30. BrettLS

    BrettLS Initiate (19) Jun 8, 2010 Texas
    Beer Trader

    When did Delices shut down?
  31. Hopbomber

    Hopbomber Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2013 United Kingdom (England)

    No idea I went there this time last week after Cantillon, the shutters were down and the shelves were empty.
  32. andrejes

    andrejes Initiate (186) Jun 10, 2011 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

    I'am also there and Thijs Brabander also!!!
    jdhende likes this.
  33. jdhende

    jdhende Disciple (306) Sep 27, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Look forwarding to meeting you both. Make sure Bart shares all the Heady topper with you that I am bringing :grinning:
  34. Tut

    Tut Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2004 New York

    The clown motif in a few signs totally put you off? You're correct that there's no accounting for taste.
    There are several hundred beers on the list. Why do you consider it "underwhelming"? Did you ask about beers not on the list?
  35. papagobrewing

    papagobrewing Initiate (19) Sep 8, 2009 Arizona

    As pointed out many of these places are not set up for tours or visits by individuals without an appointment, For Rodenbach for example see this link. Boon will likely not do it unless you are with a group, For Duvel I've lent my Good beer guide to Belgium book by Tim Webb out to be able to check on the visit status of your itinery but if you can get a copy it tells you if a brewery allows visits and gives tours and if so when. As much as they should be set up for tourism Belgian breweries are not, that just isn't their culture. Get the book, it will save you a lot of frustration from showing up at places and being turned away.
  36. BierMeJohn

    BierMeJohn Disciple (339) Feb 9, 2013 Maryland
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    The Kulminator is closed starting tomorrow due to emergency knee surgery for the owner, hopefully he is back on his feet by April!

    I will also be there! Can't wait!
    jdhende likes this.
  37. belvedere86

    belvedere86 Initiate (188) Apr 1, 2013 Belgium
    Beer Trader

    Count me in as well!
    jdhende and BierMeJohn like this.
  38. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Disciple (326) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico
    Beer Trader

    Sad news indeed. Thanks for this info. Where did you learn this? I definitely would like to have the latest update before my trip, as I could decide not to go to Antwerp if I will not be able to go to Kulminator.

    As for the others recommending Tim Webb's book, I will definitely get it before the trip, supposedly the new edition will come out in March. The old one is out of print. However, I have been contacting breweries in advance. That should help with my expectations.
  39. andrejes

    andrejes Initiate (186) Jun 10, 2011 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

  40. jdhende

    jdhende Disciple (306) Sep 27, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    It shows they will only be closed for 1 week. Hopefully that is the case. I planned on going on November 20th or 21st.
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