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Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

Toronto
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Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

Hello,

I'm looking at visiting Belgium in May or June (we're flexible).

One of the reasons we're interested in coming is due to our love of Belgium beer. Yes, I'm sure this has been heard/posted before :)

I wouldn't mind some advice. We both are foodies and we also are hikers. Any suggestions on where to spend time and unique ways to see Belgium would be appreciated.

We would like to be able to sample beer like Westvletern (if possible, we'd love to visit the monestary) and sample our other favourite, La Chouffe. Any other small or remarkable monestaries or breweries would be appreciated.

Please let me know about any suggestions and how one can actually tour a brewery (if that's exciting, which I don't know if it is).

Thanks in advance!

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

I'm no expert but I do know that La Rose Blanche in the Grand' Place does (or did?) a Brussels waffle "à la Chouffe" with a glass of Chouffe for €6.50..

There are plenty of places in Brussels where you can taste up to 500 Belgian beers, e.g. Poechenellekelder next to the Mannekin Pis, La Mort Subite near the Cathedral/Galeries St. Hubert (opposite end from the Grand' Place) or, some way off the tourist track in Ixelles, Beermania (www.beermania.be).

2 beer events in June : Brass'Heure (brasseur = brewer..) de Cerfontaine in Wallonia between Charleroi and the French border - not far from Chimay, for example): 11-12 June 2011; Beer Passion Weekend in Antwerp (Groenplaats) 24-25-26 June 2011: www.whatsonwhen.com/sisp/index.htm…

Toronto
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2. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

Thanks for the quick reply.

Are the two beer festivals touristy? In Canada, the beer festival's a chance for all of the horrible main-stream breweries to exhibit their wares.

Amsterdam, The...
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for Munich, Amsterdam, The Ardennes
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3. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

Visiting the monasteries / abbeys that brew beer can be quite an hassle, and I would say that when you have seen one it should be enough. I would focus your trip on visiting good cafe's. Many have great selections.

Have you tried Orval beer? And Chimay? Both are very good.

I would advise going to the mountain area in the east, the Ardennes. You can do great hiking, mountainbiking, rafting, canoeing. And many great beers to be found.

Brussels, Belgium
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4. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

No these festivals are not especially touristy, and this is BELGIUM: "horrible main-stream breweries" such as InBev (Stella Artois) would hardly go down well at a local beer festival. However, I was trying to give you some beer-related information, not saying you should go to either: with this information you can read up on these events for yourself and see whether or not they appeal.

You can taste 500+ Belgian beers (and visit a brewery, Cantillon) without even leaving Brussels, and the Delirium Café serves over 2000 from all over the world. You can easily visit breweries in the centre of cities such as Leuven (Domus), Brugge (De Halve Maan), Ghent (Gruut: see http://www.beer-pages.com/protz/features/beer-ghent.htm). For less easy-to-get-to places, for which you would probably do better to rent a car, see http://www.belgiumking.com/top10brewerys.html

Barcelona, Spain
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5. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

One of the few abbeys/breweries that is open to the public is the Sint-Benedictusabdij in Achel.

From their café IN the abbey (!) but closed on mondays you can have a look at the brewery process.

www.achelsekluis.org/pageNL/herberg.html (Dutch)

More information about the brewery:

www.achelsekluis.org/pageNL/brouwerij.html (Dutch)

As hiking is your thing, check these 2 walks (8,5 and 21 km), passing by the abbey. The area around the abbey is ideal for that.

classicfm.nl/specials/…wr_borkel.pdf

Bradford, Yorkshire
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6. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

Finding the beer is not going to be a hard search as there are a huge number in production. In Belgium even a reasonable small bar in a small town will have a beer list with a selection of premium beers, well into double figures. With alcohol content at 8% to 10% you are not going to sample them all at one session. I liked all those I have tasted on a number of trips but Maredsous was particularly good, a 'big boys drink' my friend said when I gave him a bottle back home.

The easy way to do your beer trip is to stay in one of the popular major cities which will have most of the nations beers spread across the numerous bars and enjoy searching them out. There will be a wide choice of restaurants there too. But if you also want to hike in pretty countryside this is not really available.

As you are hikers the place to be is the Ardennes region in the south (as one poster has already said), it is easily the most scenic area - steep hills, deep valleys, forests, and rural villages, but you would need a car. La Chouffe is brewed at Achoute in this region. If you are going to do a brewery tour you may as well see how one of your favourites is made (one tour is enough on a single hol). The web says you have to book in advance.

http://www.achouffe.be/en

I stayed just 20km from there last Oct / Nov in La Roche for the Autumn colour, very pretty. As you say you are also foodies, I guess there are at least a dozen restaurants in the town. The one at the Hotel du Midi was the best we dined in. There are also bars of course. We liked the two either side of the new square, both with a good beer list but many different choices,

Hope you have a memorable trip

Edited: 29 January 2011, 23:30
Bethesda, Maryland
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7. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

I'm actually doing something similar with a chocolate and castles theme. A good starting point is this website: http://www.visitbelgium.com/index.php. I found it useful for my needs.

8. Re: Beer and Belgium: advice on planning a DIY trip, please

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