BELGIAN FAMILY BREWERS TOUR

ten days, nine nights | One DEPARTURE A YEAR
• September 6-15, 2019
• September TBA, 2020

Belgian Family Brewers Beer Tour
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Treasuring tradition, authenticity and favoring quality are priorities for the Belgian Family Brewers (BFB).  It’s where innovation meets tradition. To be a member they must:

  • Have been brewing in Belgium continuously for at least 50 years.

  • Be an independent, family-owned brewery.

  • Sell each beer under only one name.

There’s a story behind these fabled breweries and their beers, and this tour will take you there to learn the history, meet the families and experience pleasure in a glass. 

Learn more about the Belgian Family Brewers in this great article by Erik Verdonck. 

Each departure of this tour will feature a different group of the BFBs as time and availability permits.  We will, however, endeavor to present opportunities to try beers from all the breweries in this association on each tour.

At present, there are 21 member breweries:
Boon | De Brabandere | De Halve Maan | De Koninck | De Ryck | Dubuisson | Dupont | Duvel Moortgat | Het Anker | Huyghe  | Lefebvre | Lindemans | Omer Vander Ghinste |  Roman | Saint-Feuillien | Saint Bernardus | Silly | Strubbe | Timmermans | Van Eecke | Verhaeghe
 
You may not recognize the names of some of these historic breweries, but you will recognize their hundreds of popular beers, most of which are enjoyed in the United States and other parts of the world.  Beers such as Brugse Zot, Straffe Hendrik, Scaldis (Bush), Arend, Saison Dupont, Duvel, Maredsous, Goudon Carolus, Ename, Hopus, Delirium Tremens, Abbot 12, Prior 8, Silly Scotch, Hommelbier, Lucifer, Palm, Rodenbach, Petrus, Timmermans and Duchesse de Bourgogne, to name just some.  For a complete list, visit BFB Brands.

This tour will also include the famous Belgian Beer Weekend Beer Festival, held on the magnificent Grand Place, Brussels’ medieval town square.  This festival, staged by the Belgian Brewers Federation, features around 50 breweries (including some from BFB) serving more than 350 beers. Perfect September weather, with perfect beers equals a perfect beer festival.

You’ll walk away from this tour with an even greater appreciation for Belgian Family Brewers beers and the families who brew them!

Plans for this tour include overnights in Brussels, Bruges, Watou, Kortrijk and Antwerp.

Tours Include

  • Nine nights accommodations in nice, friendly, centrally-located hotels often in the old town section of the city and some in bucolic rural settings.

  • All breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners with gratuities.

  • Ground transportation via private luxury coach with professional driver. Leave the driving to us!

  • Professional and courteous BBM! guide services.

  • All tours and admissions.

  • Canal boat tour in Bruges.

  • An instant group of interesting and fun, beer-loving friends you haven’t met yet.

  • Guaranteed tour price the moment submit your deposit.

  • Plenty of unstructured free time to relax, shop and explore on your own.

  • Custom BBM! name badges.

  • Souvenir BBM! luggage tags.

  • One souvenir BBM! soft-sided cooler per household.

  • Flexibility in the event you need to transfer or cancel your tour.

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Not Included

  • Airfare

  • Airport transfers.

  • Some meals and beer on your own.

  • Free-time sightseeing. Our guides are available to provide suggestions.

  • Fine Print: You are responsible for the costs of your free-time sightseeing. Be sure to read our Terms & Conditions Agreement for important details.

  • Gratuities, at your discretion, for brewery tour guides and coach drivers.

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Tour Cost

Deadline to sign up is one month before departure. 

$2995/per person + Air, $575 single supplement*

* Prices based on double room occupancy.  If you are a solo traveler and would like to have a private room all to yourself there is a single supplement fee of $575 in addition to the base price of $2995 per person. We can also work with you to pair you with other single travelers to avoid the single supplement. Better yet, recruit a friend to come, too! Unless, of course, like Rick Steves says, you prefer to “snore alone.”

We require a minimum number of travelers for a tour to be confirmed to go, so it’s important to sign up ASAP, as opposed to waiting until the deadline. Also, tours can fill suddenly, so signing up early guarantees your place and avoids disappointment.

Please share BBM! tours with your beer enthusiast friends and encourage them to join the fun!

map of overnight locations

“Many of the breweries still occupy the centuries-old structures they’ve been in for generations, but with some incongruously modern equipment upgrades. Some, like Huyghe, even have their old early 20th-century copper kettles intact, juxtaposed with stainless steel 21st century engineering marvels from the likes of Krones—sort of a physical manifestation of honoring the past while embracing the future. In a production office adjacent to its brew house, Huyghe even has the copper top of an old kettle suspended above work space, a flying-saucer-like source of both reflection and inspiration.”
— Belgian Family Brewers: Traditionally Modern by Jeff Cioletti

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SOME OF THE BREWERIES WE will visit ON THIS TOUR:

  • De Halve Maan

  • De Koninck

  • De Ryck

  • Dubuisson

  • Dupont

  • Duvel Moortgat

  • Het Anker

  • Huyghe

  • Lefebvre

  • Lindemans

  • Omer Vander Ghinste (Formerly Bavik/Bockor)

  • Roman

  • Saint Bernardus

  • Silly

  • Timmermans

  • Van Eecke

  • Verhaeghe

BELGIAN FAMILY BREWERS Itinerary

Day One • Antwerp   This one-of-a-kind tour begins this afternoon at 1 p.m. in the lobby of our hotel in in Antwerp  Ahhh! stunningly beautiful Antwerp! Today we visit the interactive visitor center of Brewery De Konninck, to learn more about the traditional beer of Antwerp and the city itself.  The name of the chalice used to serve De Konninck is a bolleke, so when you order a bolleke, you automatically get a chalice of this famous beer of Antwerp.  The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy the city, shopping, exploring or just sitting on the sidewalk patio of a beer cafe enjoying some regional brews and watching the world walk by. This evening we'll gather for our Welcome Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Antwerp. Evening is on your own to befriend the beer cafes of the capital city of Flanders. (Dinner #1)

Day Two • Antwerp   Morning is free to explore the city. After lunch, we'll head to a brewery tour at Duvel Moortgat, where you will see their modern brewhouse and impressive operations. You’ll have a chance to meet Philippe Moortgat, Vice Chairman of Duvel Moortgat and president of the Belgian Family Brewers (schedule permitting). Together with his brothers Michel (CEO) and Bernard (Poperties Manager), they are 4th generation brewers and helm this company. Rounding out the visit, you'll enjoy their full line of high quality beers in their hospitality room called the Duvel Depot and shop in their inviting Duvel Gift Shop. For many people around the globe, to visit here is a true pilgrimage and one that makes a positive lasting impression. The evening and dinner are on your own in Antwerp. (Breakfast)

Day Three • Bruges  This morning we depart Antwerp and visit Brewery De Ryck (Think Arend Tripel & DeRyck Special), where the mother is the brewster, the daughter is in charge of marketing and the son runs the brewery. De Ryck has a fascinating history and stellar beers.  This afternoon we’ll have lunch at the famous De Heeren Van Liedekercke.  It was awarded the “Best Beer Restaurant in the World” by ratebeer.com.  After lunch, we venture to Brewery Huyghe (Think Delirium Tremens), to learn more about the pink elephant and taste their euphoric beers.  Then it’s on the romantic Bruges, our home for the next two nights. (Breakfast & lunch #1)

Day Four • Bruges   Morning is free to explore the shops of Bruges.  Late morning we meet for a short walking tour to give you the lay of the land.  We’ll visit the Halve Maan Brewery, where you’ll have a chance to meet Xavier Vanneste (schedule permitting), who is the president of brewery and former president of the Belgian Family Brewers.  We’ll also enjoy a scrumptious company lunch here and Halve Maan’s full line of beers (Think Brugse Zot, Straffe Hendrick & Tripel Wild).  This afternoon we’ll take a canal boat tour of Bruges, then the rest of the day is yours free to enjoy this fairytale-like city.  Dinner is on your own. (Breakfast & lunch #2)

Day Five • Watou   This morning we say goodbye to Bruges and head to a very special tour and tasting at Brewery Verhaege in Vichte, home of the Duchesse de Bougogne. This represents part of the wild ale part of the tour with this magnificent Flemish red ale.  After a hearty lunch at the rustic Moriaanshoofd Country Grill, we continue our beer hunting and head to Brewery Roman (Think Ename, Sloeber, Adriaen Brouwer & Gentse Strope).   This brewery traces its roots to the 16th century.  Their Ename line of abbey beers are named after the former Benedictine Abbey of Ename near Oudenaarde.  Their Adriaen Brouwer beer is named after the famous 17th Bohemian artist who lived life to the fullest and painted tavern scenes often depicting debauchery, drunkenness and foolishness.  Hmmm... I’m listening.  For dinner we will stop at a little place called Trappist Westvleteren.  The taproom for the Saint Sixtus Abbey is In de Vrede, which means "in peace".  If we are lucky, we’ll be able to buy some of their beer to go from the gift shop.  Keep your fingers crossed.   Next we head to Watou and our Brewery Inn, our home for the next two nights.  The Inn features a great room with a fireplace and a bottomless refrigerator of St. Bernardus beers.  Many a night have been spent in this great room enjoying these great beers and now it’s your chance to do the same!  (Breakfast, lunch #3 & dinner #2)
  
Day Six • Watou   The morning starts with a tour of the famous St. Bernardus Brewery (Think Abbot 12 & Prior 8) and their new Brouwershuis.  For lunch, we’ll hop over to France and eat at one of my favorite old taverns, known only to locals (and us).   This afternoon we’ll visit the taproom of Leroy Breweries (Think Hommelbier & Kapittel) to acquaint you with their fine line of beers.  Dinner tonight is at one of my favorite restaurants with regional cuisine.  Then it’s back to the bottomless refrigerator of St. Bernardus back at our inn. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner #3)

Day Seven • Brussels   Today we depart the hop fields of West Flanders and head to the capital city of Brussels. On the way,  we’ll visit Brewery Omer Vander Ghinste (Think VanderGhinste Oud Bruin and Omer Blond).  The roots of this brewery formerly known as Bockor, go back to 1892.  This afternoon we'll have lunch at the taproom of Brasserie Silly, where you'll be able to enjoy their full line of beers. After lunch we head to Brewery Saint-Feullien, where we will see their new brewery and tasting room, and the old brewery which now serves as a museum.  They make a full line of St. Feullien beers, Saison (in a can no less), Grand Cru and Car d’ Or  made especially for the city of Mons, which was the European Capital of Culture for 2015.   (Breakfast)

Day Eight • Brussels  Morning is free to explore or just sleep in.  At 9:30 a.m., there is an optional walk (about 10 minutes) to a famous local flea market in the Marollais district and visit a famous, if not scruffy, lambic cafe called Brocante.  The fun thing about Belgian flea markets is you see everything and much of it is hundreds of year old.  This afternoon at 2 p.m. we will meet in the lobby and  have a walking tour of the city, followed by more free time. We’ll visit the world-famous Grand Place, which Beer Author Tim Webb of Good Beer Guide Belgium so deftly describes its wow factor as, “...unquestionably one of the world’s finest places for making you feel as though it’s all been worth it.” He astutely paints a vivid picture of Brussels as, “…every city on earth, unedited and confused, all rolled into one.  The whole of modern life is to be found here somewhere, usually unshaven.”  At 6 p.m., the gates open for the famous Belgian Beer Weekend Festival in the Grand Place. This outdoor festival will surprise and delight in this perfect September weather. Lunch and dinner is on your own.  (Breakfast)

Day Nine • Brussels    

Morning is free to explore the city.  Then late morning, we’ll make another crack at the Belgian Beer Weekend Festival in the Grand Place.  The Festival is organized by the Belgian Brewers Guild, which traces its roots to the 14th century, making it one of the oldest professional organizations in the word. There is much pageantry and fanfare, and a parade which begins the festival. One of the highlights is ceremony where new honorary knights are knighted, aka, enthroned by the Knights of the Brewers Mash Staff, which continues the traditions and nobility of the brewers trade as developed over the centuries. This is a serious honor bestowed upon only a lucky few. 

“The knights by rights are active members of the Brotherhood who, owing to their profession, birth or alliance, are closely related to the brewing industry.”
—Belgian Brewers Guild 

 

Tonight we gather for our Farewell Beer Session, where we will share memories of the tour and say so long for now to our new friends. (Breakfast)

Day 10 • Brussels   It’s A Wrap!  Our grand Belgian Family Brewers Tour officially ends with breakfast.  There are no group activities today.  Brussels International Airport (BRU) is quick 20 minute, or less, train ride away.  You may catch the train from Brussels to anywhere in Europe. Buy your tickets the night before and hop on the train this morning. (Breakfast)

* Itinerary subject to change.


Learn more about the Belgian Family Brewers:

Everything's Relative: The Belgian Family Brewers By Lew Bryson for DRAFT Magazine | PDF
Belgian Family Brewers Press Trip By Chuck Cook
Brooks on Beer: Belgian Family Brewers By Jay R. Brooks for San Jose Mercury News |  PDF

 

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