TOUR 66 – Beer & Heritage – Fri 9 August – Mon 12 August 2013
Based at the excellent four star Novotel Leuven Centrum this Tour is really starting to look spectacular as it combines both beer tourism with some great historic and cultural sites. After our ferry crossing we start with a meal at the outstanding newly expanded ‘t Molenhof in Oostvleteren. This is a superb restaurant/café in the shadow of the windmill and a stone’s throw from Struise Brewers Schoolhouse. They have great food, including Spare Ribs and over 100 beers, with loads from Struise and other rarities. This is followed by a visit to the famous Jules Destrooper Biscuit makers in Lo, established in 1886, for a guided tour* followed by a biscuit tasting*. The next stop on our way to Leuven is the great Apostelken Café on the outskirts of Aalst, for a choice of beers from their menu of 100 plus, including a great selection of lambic beers. After checking in to our hotel, we have the evening free in lovelyLeuven city centre, armed with a copy of Podge’s Leuven Bar Guide* and map.
On the Saturday we visit Kanne, just south of Maastricht and its famous Marl Caves. We will go underground to explore this maze of pre-15th century caves where marl blocks were quarried to build churches and castles. We will hopefully see prehistoric and more recent Middle Dutch graffiti and visit the unique underground mushroom nursery. More importantly we will visit the underground stores of St Bernardus Grottenbier (Cave Beer) maturing. We will have a full guided tour of the caves* and a tasting of Grottenbier*. We make our way for lunch to the historic Roman city of Tongeren in Limburg, home to Belgian hero and rebel KingAmbiorix and also the new Au Phare Brewery who have a café with over 100 beers in the town’s main square. In the afternoon we call in at probably the most attractive brewery in the whole of Belgium, the Kerkom Brewery in the beautiful fruit growing district of Sint Truiden. This is set in a picturesque 1878 enclosed farm courtyard where, weather permitting, we can sit outside and enjoy a beer from their great portfolio of Bink beers including Bloesem Bink made with local honey and pear syrup. We finish off the day with a visit to a revived brewery in the village of Neerijse, De Kroon Brouwerij (The Crown Brewery) reopened on 23 April 2013 exactly 30 years after the last brew was made in 1983 and the brewery closed down. We will have a chance to sample at least one* their three offerings including the Delvaux Special Blonde, 8.5% abv, a fruity blonde beer, their Super Crown Pale Ale, 6.5%abv, an amber beer made to the old recipe before the brewery closed, and their beer named after one of the owner’s Freddy Delvaux, whose nickname is Job. Their Job Blonde is an unfiltered 6%abv fruity, spicy blonde beer. Then back into Leuven for an evening at leisure in the city.
The Sunday of this tour is devoted to a unique chance to experience the fantastic boat lift atStrépy-Thieu on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal. The canal opened in 1917 but the lift was added in 1963 to cope with huge modern barges. This incredible feat of engineering bridges the 70 meter difference in water levels between La Louvière and Thieu. Replacing 6 old locks and hydraulic lifts this colossal vertical boat lift consists of two independent counterweighted lifts. We will be going in a boat in the lift system itself. Following this, we make our way to theVillage of Tourpes, home to world-class Dupont brewery and to the Forge restaurant in the village for lunch and a chance to sample beers from Dupont which are on offer here, as the brewery tap. After lunch we make our way to the Archeosite and Museum in Aubechies for a tour of the site* and a chance to taste* the special herbal beer Cervesia brewed especially for this site that recreates an old beer style. We finish off the day on the way back to Leuven by calling in at the friendly café and brewery Den Herberg in Buizingen where we can sample from their portfolio of beers in situ.
On the Monday we return home to the UK, via a great beer tour. We start the day with a visit to the brilliant beer warehouse Dranken Geers in Oostakker where we have the opportunity to buy some beers to take home from their great range at good prices. From here we visit the huge Delirium Brewery in Melle, and have a look at their brand new magnificent brewhouse* and have a beer tasting*. A chance to get hold of some of their excellent merchandise…follow the pink elephants. Our final stop is a bit of a favourite as we travel to West Flanders to see the nice people on the canal at Varsenare at the Bistro Nieuwege for a meal (always great and yes, you can have the ribs) and a last crack at their superb beer list which always has something quality and interesting including a massive nine now on draught.
The price of this four-day tour is £405 per person based on sharing a twin or double room with a single supplement of £100 if you want a room of your own. 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 payment of a single supplement. If you would like to secure a place, please send a deposit of £100 per person now. The balance for this Tour is due as usual five weeks before departure.
TOUR 67 – TOTALLY TRAPPIST
Tuesday 1 October – Sunday 6 October 2013
This, our second Trappist Tour, is now really taking shape and transport and hotels are finalised. After our pick ups and Eurotunnel crossing we aim to call in at Auberge du Mont des Cats for lunch, followed by a tasting* of this Trappist beer brewed at Chimay for this Abbey. After a brief pit stop at Dubuisson Brasse-Temps microbrewery on the outskirts of Mons we make our way to the brewery tap of Chimay, the Auberge de Poteaupré, where we will indulge in the Total Taste Experience*, pairing the four Chimay Beers (Chimay Rouge, Triple, Bleue and Dorée) with the four Chimay cheeses (Classique, à la bière, Grand Cru and Vieux Chimay) served with bread. From here we make our way to our first hotel stop on the tour and we spend the next two nights at the Hotel Porte de France in the beautiful Ardennes town ofBoullion. Days Two and Three of this tour are devoted to visits to Orval and Rochefort. Hopefully we can get into both breweries in the monasteries themselves as we have in the past, however getting into some of the Trappist breweries is a delicate business which is still in progress. We then head north and following one night spent at the Ibis Hasselt Centrum in the exciting Limburg city of Hasselt, armed with Podge’s Hasselt Bar Guide and map, we pay a visit to the Achel Brewery in the monastery of the same name where we have an opportunity to sample their beers, some uniquely here on draught, in the café overlooking the brewery. They also have a very good food and drink shop here, for cake, trappist honey and other trappist/nun-made products. The following day we travel over the Netherlands border to pay a visit to La Trappe monastery for a full trappist experience including a meal*, a film*, a full guided tour of the brewery and some monastery buildings and grounds*, followed by a tasting of six beers*. In the evening we head for the great Flemish beer city of Antwerp, for a two night stay at the Sandton Eden Antwerp and a free evening armed with Podge’s Antwerp Bar Guide* and map*.
The Saturday of this Tour is devoted to a visit to the new brewery tap café at Westmalle, two beer festivals and a beer cuisine meal. The visit to the Café Trappisten at Westmalle will be in the morning and here you can try their unique speciality, a half and half, a mix of dubbel and triple beer. From here we make our way to Mechelen and the brewery Het Anker where we will have a two course beer cuisine lunch in the Het Anker restaurant which overlooks the brewery. In the afternoon we take in the special annual Trappistenfeesten Trappist Beer Festival held in a church in the town of Niel, where all the worlds Trappist beers will be available and you should be able to try some of the more rarely found brews such as the newAustrian Trappist, Gregorius and Westmalle Extra. To round off the day we will call in at theModeste Beer Festival which takes place inside the De Koninck Brewery in Antwerp for a few more beers from the over 30 small breweries who attend this event. We make our way back to the UK on the Sunday with stops at the brilliant beer warehouse Dranken Geers in Oostakker where we have the opportunity to buy some beers to take home from their great range at good prices and a final monastic experience at In de Vrede, the brewery tap of the famous Westvleteren Abbey. More details are being added to this tour as it is still being built so keep an eye on these newsletters for the very latest.
The price of this superb five night, six day exceptional beer experience is £535 per person based on sharing a twin or double room. There is a single supplement of £168 if you want a room of your own. If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller please contact Podge as we are often able to pair up travellers in twin rooms to avoid the need for payment of the single supplement. As this Tour will sell out quickly you need to send £100 deposit per person as soon as possible to secure a place. Priority will be given to those that have already registered an interest in this tour. The balance for the Tour is due as usual five weeks before departure.
TOUR 68 – CHRISTMAS IN BRUGES
Monday 23 December – Friday 27 December 2013
Once again we are enjoying Christmas in Belgium with our Christmas Tour to Bruges and around West Flanders. This Tour has proved increasingly popular and the 2012 tour sold fast, so if you want to join us then book early. We will again be based at the four star Hotel Academie, near Minnewater in the centre of Bruges. The tour will include days out with our coach including a Christmas Day buffet, beer tasting and tour at the excellent Emelisse Brewery just over the Dutch border.
The price of this five-day tour is £445 per person based on sharing a twin or double room with a single supplement of £128 if you want a room of your own. 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 payment of a single supplement. If you would like to secure a place, please send £100 per person deposit to Podge now.
TOUR 69 - BRUGES BEER FESTIVAL & BEYOND
Saturday 1 February – Wednesday 5 February 2014
This Tour takes advantage of the annual Bruges Beer Festival held in the Halletoren in the main Grote Markt square and we will also get out and about in our coach and are planning some unique beer events in the city and elsewhere. Our stay will be in the comfortable four star Hotel Academie only a short stroll from Bruges Beertje. If you want to register an interest for this Tour please contact Podge.
TOUR 70 LEUVEN & ANTWERP
Saturday 26 April – Wednesday 30 April 2014
The Annual Zythos Beer Festival is now well established in its great new home in Leuven and this tour coincides with that greatest of all Belgian Beer Festivals. We will spend the first two nights in the excellent Hotel Novotel Leuven Centrum followed by two nights at the newly revamped Hotel Ibis Antwerpen Centrum, so we get a chance to sample the great beer and nightlife of these two famed Flemish cities.
TOUR 71 BEER & BATTLEFIELDS 2014
Thursday 22 May – Monday 26 May 2014
Welcome to our fifth Beer & Battlefields Tour. Once again our guide Siobhan McGinn will be taking us to some well known and less well known sites to explain their significance in the Great War and also behind the lines to share the latest on her research subject, beer on the Western Front. We are again based at the Oude Abdij Hotel in Lo-Reninge and will visit some favourite breweries and some brand new sites which we will have access to for the first time. Oh! and we will call in at the excellent Poperinge Beer Festival too, which coincides with this Tour.
TOUR 72 HOPS & POPS
Thursday 18 September – Monday 22 September 2014
This five day tour will be based in the Westhoek hop country at the Oude Abdij Hotel in Lo-Reninge and will focus on the hop plant and explore its relationship with beer. This Tour coincides with the famous Poperinge Bier- en Hoppefeesten which runs from 19-21 September 2014 and for the first time Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours will be taking in this festival of all things hoppy. We might even manage a beer or two as well.
TOUR 73 BEER & BATTLEFIELDS CENTENARY
Thursday 23 October – Wednesday 29 October 2014
We are currently planning this very special centenary tour and have chosen October since the front line in the Great War in October 1914 had moved north to settle around the Ypres Salient and the Westhoek area of Belgium. We will be visiting some of the most historic sites exactly one hundred years on and will take in sites connected with the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November 1914) and the commemorative event , special to the Belgian people, to be held on 29 October 2014 of the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of the locks and sluice gates at the Ganzepoot in Nieuwpoort by Hendrik Geeraert, the local skipper, which flooded part of the Westhoek and stopped the German advance in this tiny corner of Belgium. The commemorative events coincide with the opening in October 2014 of a 10 million Euro visitors centre at the Goosefoot complex itself. We are planning plenty of other site visits and events, and the Tour will be guided by Siobhan McGinn who should have just handed in her dissertation on the Great War for her Masters Degree in British First World War Studies by this date! For this special six day Tour we will be based in the heart of the immortal Salient inYpres itself at the luxury Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields.
Included in the cost of our Tours are:
- Hotel accommodation and breakfasts.
- Luxury coach travel on a 49+ seater coach with toilet.
- Pick up from Ipswich (Crown Street Layby), 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.
- All Brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings.
- Entrance fees to all group attractions, museums and historical sites.
- All items marked with an asterisk on individual detailed tour itinerary.
- Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guide & Map for the town or city where we stay or spend some time on Tour.
- Free still and sparkling water on the coach.
Personal insurance is not included but is strongly advised, as is carrying the European Health Insurance Card available online, by phone or via the Post Office. If you would like to join us on any of the above tours or if you need more information please contact Podge on 01245 354677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are limited to the number of rooms booked, so book early to avoid disappointment.
Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours
Driving people to drink since 1994