I will be in Europe for 8 weeks working later in the year. I'll have the weekends to myself and would love to do a Belgian beer tour. A quick google search brought up many options so I thought that I'd start here first. Any suggestions for a good tour? I'll be flying into Brussels. Thank you!!
Many of the more famous Belgian beers come from larger breweries and do not really reperesent the traditional style of brewing you had in the past. Luckely there are still old style family run breweries like Cantillon in Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels. They produces Lambiek, air bacteria only living in that area giving these beers their unique taste. There is also a little museum and it's located at walking distance from Brussels-South railway station. http://www.cantillon.be/
Have you been to Europe before? Just being there does not mean that Belgium will be an easy hop most weekends. There are interesting beers in many other countries as well.
Will your main transport be train? Are you prepared to pay for cabs to small breweries that are not on bus lines, or have poor transit access? Are you talking about sleeping-away weekends? Some of your options may require reservations, because they are really small places, not subsidiaries of Inbev.
Oh goodness what a superfluous response. Yes, I've been to Europe many times. I know what I'm doing. I just needed a little helpful advice.
Thanks Wil. I will check that out.
I, too, have sought out this information and was surprised to find very little tours popped up on the online machine. I had some luck with AirBnB though. When on their site or in their app, search using keywords “beer” and the city you want under “experiences” and some beer tour options pop up. We booked one of these tours just before Covid hit, and unfortunately had to cancel. Please follow up on this post if you have success.
Thanks Wil - that sounds cool and is really close to where we are staying! I will add it to the list! :)
I have assembled my own beer tours in Belgium for the most part. Without a car, it can be a bit of a chore to get to many of the smaller breweries, and during covid, most stopped giving tours and closed their tap rooms.
For actual breweries, Cantillon that was mentioned is easy access from central Belgium, either by taking public transport, or even by a brisk walk. Check their website, during brewing season (cold weather) tours are limited and usually guided, other times of the year it is self-guided. the difference is whether you need a reservation or not. There are also a few craft brewers, like Brussels Beer Project, in Brussels.
In Beersel, just outside Brussels, is 3 Fonteinen and Oud Beersel, both Lambiek (sour) breweries like Cantillon.
Ghent has a couple craft breweries, Bruges has De Halve Maan brewery, an interesting old brewery mixed with new brewing, and Bourgogne de Flanders.
In the Ypres area are a number of breweries, but you would need a car, however some of the best ones we went to were there, including the cafe across from the Westvleteren Abbey, de Struise, and DECA Brewery.
The problem with breweries, is that many are open only limited hours, usually the weekends, so you could plan a trip to the Ypres/Poperinge area, then arrange your schedule to match the hours as best you can. There are of course many WW1 related sights there as well, a Hop museum in Poperinge, so filling several days is no problem.
However, with all the difficulties of breweries, we found the best places to sample beers was in dedicated beer bars. Every town we went to had one or more places serving a wide variety of beers, including vintage bottles. Antwerp really had a number of these bars, making that a good beer destination, even though we found only one Craft brewery and a large brewery.
Actually Paul’s response is what I am waiting for, he can talk from experience. I am not directly a beer lover, drink very occasional drinks with alcohol but live very close to the Belgian border, so feel a bit connected with the country. Over the years Belgian beers have become very popular abroad and so many breweries have increased and modernised production, some at an industrial scale. As a result the smaller family run breweries reduced in number, luckely breweries like Cantillon are still in business. Seeing their website I get the impression of hard working people with a passion for their products, it bring back memories how Belgium was long ago when visiting family there as a kid.
In 2017 CNN made a list of 7 breweries with tours in Belgium to visit, besides Cantillon I think Het Anker in Mechelen can be worth on your list too. Their Gouden Carolus is one of the very few beers I like to drink. I have seen the brewery only from the outside, it’s located at the edge of the historic centre. It’s bigger but still a bit old school, they produce whisky too. Mechelen btw is a nice historic place, certainly worth walking around there. https://www.hetanker.be/en
Duvel near Puurs and not so far from Mechelen is one of Belgiums most famous beers and on that list too, but is produced at an industrial scale nowadays. Further De Koninck in Antwerp, De Halve Maan in Bruges as Paul already noticed is popular among tourists. It seems that Sint-Bernardus near Watou produces beer based on the same recepy as the famous West-Vleteren. The latter is not so easy to get, but you can find the first in many supermarkets everywhere in Flanders. Finally St Feuillian in Le Roeulx is the only one in Wallonia that is on the list.
Ghent has also a city brewery but not to miss is the Dulle Griet with a selection of over 500 beers. Kwak is served in unique glasses there, as a funny tradition they will keep one of your shoes in storage to avoid it will be stolen. Bier Central Antwerpen in Antwerp has over 300 beers.
If of interest second-hand stores “Kringloopwinkels” most of the time located outside of town sell (ofcourse) second-hand glasses starting from €1.
And last but not least, those special beers contain most of the time a high(er) percentage of alcohol, so be careful with tasting and driving.
If you go to Bruges do not miss Half Moon.
Mechelin is only about 20 minutes by rail from Brussels and I would say Het Anker is a must-visit (they have a hotel at the brewery if you want to linger - Mechelin is a great small city).
In Brussels itself Cantillon offers an interesting tour -- and the beer is good, too.
Though it's a bar, not a brewery, A La Mort SUbite is a wonderful place to have a beer (or several) in central Brussels.
If you live in a city with a beer bar or craft brewery that features Belgian style beers drop in during a quiet time of day and ask them for advice -- some of the best tips we got before our trip to Belgium were from a brewer here in Minneapolis.
Also look at the extremely helpful if somewhat outdated "Good Beer Guide Belgium".
Tip: when entering a Belgian bar look the bartender in the eye and nod before sitting down, then be patient. Failure to observe this ritual may lead to long -- even infinite -- delays in service.
check out the beercycling website. We did one of their tours a couple years ago ... it was wonderful
check out the beercycling website. We did one of their tours a couple years ago ... it was wonderful. If you don't actually book one of their tours they do list the route and breweries visited
Hi - I would recommend you pick a city and take a beer tour with beerwalk.be - rather than try and hit a bunch of spread-out different breweries. With a few exceptions, Belgian breweries don't really seem to do the "tap room" showcase like we experience in the US.
While Brussels is obviously the larger city - and home to Cantillon where I could spend days - unless you're really into lambic I'd suggest a smaller city like Gent. Actually I'd just suggest Gent as a weekend in general - I love that city and have had alot (too much?) beer on two different trips.
Caveats - Brussels has two of my favorite breweries - Cantillon and de la Senne - and we didn't end up actually taking a beerwalk tour (we did our own thing in Gent and did a history tour in Ieper).
The tour would mean you get to see one place and drink more without traveling so much.
You will really like this country, I asked the staff of the hotel where I stayed for advice and they indicated excellent places with different beers
If you get to Brugge there is a really fun bar called The Beer Wall. There you can see every Belgium beer and its glass displayed. not a beer tour, but still a fun thing to check out. Have a fun trip!
The beer and chocolate tour in Brussels is hands down the best walking tour I have EVER been on, any theme, any city.