The Bruges Beer Festival Tour of Belgium
Six days, five nights |
One DEPARTURE A YEAR
• February 1-6, 2019
• Jan. 31-Feb. 5, 2020
I always tell people if you can only go one place in Belgium, go to Bruges. I also tell them, you cannot spend too much time in Bruges. And as many times as I’ve been there, I still find it exciting, fascinating and electrical with beery possibilities. The Bruges Beer Festival and this particular tour make it even more attractive than normal. On this tour, we will spend three nights in beautiful Bruges, attend the Bruges Beer Festival, take a tour of the magnificent Halve Maan Brewery and Museum and beer hunt Bruges’ dozens and dozens of atmospheric beer cafes. Recommended reading for the tour is Around Bruges in 80 Beers, by Chris “Podge” Pollard & Siobhan McGinn.
The Bruges Beer Festival features more than 280 beers from more than 70 breweries and eight top chefs cooking cuisine with beer. It is held below the ancient Belfry, seen in the movie In Bruges, which is located on the main market square in old historic Bruges and in a large heated tent on the Grote markt (main square). This is one of the few, if not only, festivals in the world where all seven Belgian & Dutch Trappist beers are available, including the elusive Westvleteren.
Also available at the Festival and at their Struise Bruges Beer Shop in Bruges are the most desirable beers from de Struise Brewers, makers of Pannepot and other eventful beers. Time permitting, we will visit Bourgogne des Flanders Brewery and Fort Lapin Brewery in Bruges.
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Bruges also has several excellent bottle shops featuring a wide variety of rare Belgian beers, glassware and beer signs. You will want to fill the empty bag you brought with you for just this purpose. Some of these shops include: The The Bierpaleis, The Bier Temple and 2 be, which features the Great Belgian Beer Wall, purported to have a bottle and glass of every current Belgian beer on the market. When you see the relatively low prices for a beer, compared to what you pay at home, you will have reverse-sticker shock. The dilemma then becomes which of the 100 beers you have purchased along the way on the tour will make it back to your home in your suitcase.
We’ll also spend two nights in the thriving historic university town of Ghent. We will stay in the historic center, take a walking tour of the city and explore its many beer cafes.
Ghent, in all its glory, will be our staging point to visit Van Steenberge Brewery, home of Gulden Draak, Piraat and other incredible beers, and to visit Bosteels Brewery, home of Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet and Deus. Both are a great brewery visits, where we will get to taste these beers fresh at the source.
You’ll have plenty of free time in both cities, too, for you to explore, rent a bike, take a carriage ride, shop, or just sit by a cozy fireplace in a 500-year old cellar beer cafe with wood-panelled walls and experience some of the best beers in the world!
BAB is the beer enthusiast group that organizes the Bruges Beer Festival. BAB is affiliated with the Zythos group, which organizes the Zythos Beer Festival each year in Leuven, to which BBM! also offers a tour, the Legendary Zythos Beer Festival Tour.
The Bruges Beer Festival Tour is going to be an incredible tour. Join us, won't you?
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- Five nights accommodations in nice, friendly, centrally-located hotels in the old town section of the city.
- All breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners with gratuities.
- Beer during brewery tours, taproom visits, festivals and company meals as listed on the itinerary.
- Ground transportation via rail.
- Professional and courteous BBM! guide services.
- All tours and admissions.
- 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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- 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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Deadline to sign up is one month before departure.
$1595/per person + Air, $325 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 $325 in addition to the base price of $1595 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
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SOME OF THE BREWERIES AND ATTRACTIONS WE HAVE VISITED ON THIS TOUR IN THE PAST:
- Halve Maan Brewery and Museum
- Bruges Beer Festival
- The Bier Temple and Bierpaleis
- Struise Bruges Beer Shop
- Water Huis aan de Bierkant
- Van Steenberge Brewery
- Bosteels Brewery
- Fort Lapin Brewery
- Alvinne Brewery
- DeRyck Brewery
- Bourgogne de Flanders Brewery
- Bike Tours
- Canal Boat Tours
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Bruges Beer Festival Tour of Belgium Itinerary
Day One • Bruges The tour begins this afternoon in the lobby or our hotel. We’ll get checked into our ideal location in the old town, close to many great beer cafes and get acclimated to your home for the next three nights. We’ll have a comfortable, warm living room with a fireplace and a beer cafe right in our hotel. After a welcome beer, we’ll take a short walking tour and weather permitting a carriage ride of the city. Hang on tight, as the horses practically gallup through the cobbled streets. The City Tour guided tour is our plan B. Afterward, we’ll enjoy our welcome dinner and then have an optional informal pub crawl. Then it’s to bed so we can be refreshed and ready to go on Belgium time for the Bruges Beer Festival tomorrow. (Dinner)
Day Two • Bruges Morning is free to take in the many sites of Bruges, rent a bike, visit museums, or just people watch, while savoring a Belgian beer on a heated café terrace. Late morning we meet and walk about 10 minutes to the Bruges Beer Festival, (12-10 p.m.), where you will have your socks blown off (so wear two pairs) by the delectable beers available there. This is a decadent indulgence few beer drinkers will ever experience. You will become members of a very small and elite club of beer enthusiasts. This cannot be overstated. The Festival features more than 280 beers from more than 70 breweries and eight top chefs cooking cuisine with beer. This is also the only beer festival I have been to that has Westvleteren Trappist beers. The company buys the beer at the Festival. Lunch is on your own today and there will be food at the Festival and in the nearby ‘T Zandt square. There are dozens of great restaurants from which to choose.
You may stay at the Festival as long as you wish. Beer at the Festival today is included in the price of the tour, so drink up! The afternoon is yours to do as you please. You are on your own for dinner, too, and Bruges is full of fine restaurants. Walk around, window shop and see which one speaks to you. Later this evening at 8 p.m., we meet in front of the Belfry for optional informal tour of some of the most interesting beer cafés in the city. (Breakfast)
Day Three • Bruges After breakfast, the rest of the day is free to explore Bruges, shop, exercise, bike ride, etc. Some of you may choose to head back over to the Festival to take another crack at it. Lunch is on your own today. Other possibilities include the taproom of Halve Maan Brewery, the taproom Bourgogne des Flanders Brewery, the Art Nouveau Duvelorium Grand Beer Cafe, the Historium, the Bruges Beer Museum, and a five-mile bike ride out to the nearby village of Damme with quaint beer cafes and scenery. Or, a quick thirty-minute train ride will put you in the resort city of Oostende on the North Sea, where you can explore, stroll the boardwalk, take a Marvin Gaye walking tour and visit beer cafes, etc. The walking tour is excellent and highly recommended. Trains run frequently.
This evening we’ll meet at our hotel to head to our company dinner tonight!
This evening I encourage you to explore on your own, along with Podge’s Around Bruges in Eighty Beers, (you can purchase online or once there at the Bier Tempel beer store in Bruges). Some of the most interesting beer cafés in the city are: Brugs Beertje, de Garre, Le Trappiste, Poatersgat, 2be, Vlissinghe, Rose Café and Cambrinus. (Breakfast & dinner)
Day Four • Ghent This morning we check out and say goodbye to historic Bruges and transfer by rail to Ghent. For the next two nights, we will be staying at the towering NH Belfort, located in the heart of the old town of Ghent, close to all the famous beer cafes and the Gravensteen Castle. We’ll get checked into our hotel, have a short walking tour, then a quick company lunch and beer at the Gruut Brewery. This brewery combines ancient brewing techniques with modern ones and uses spices (gruit) instead of hops. The results are healthy and delicious. Be sure to notice the novelty of their coaster pads and unique beer glasses. Gruut’s brewster is Annick Desplenter.
After lunch, we hop a train to Buggenhout (45 min) and the family-run Bosteels Brewery, home to Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet and Deus. There, we’ll have a tour and tasting at 2 p.m. in their rustic flemish tasting room. With any luck, we’ll see Ivo Bosteel, the patriarch of the family, who loves Americans and always has good stories for us. Upon return to Ghent, dinner is on your own in one of Ghent’s many seductive and romantic restaurants. Later this evening at 8 p.m., we’ll meet for an optional informal tour of some of my favorite beer cafes in Ghent. Two of my favorites are the Water Huis aan de Bierkant and t Gouden Mandeken, a cozy, rustic cellar cafe. As you make your way around Ghent you may notice the imagery of a noose, on buildings, menus, beer logos, etc. The noose is one of the symbols of Ghent, symbolic of the Revolt of 1539. It’s a fascinating read. (Breakfast & lunch)
Day Five • Ghent Morning is free to sleep in, explore, to buy some famous Ghent mustard, visit genever bars, or perhaps tour the Gravenstein Castle and Torture Museum. Late this morning we do another short walking tour of historic old town and then have lunch at one of my favorite cafes in Ghent. This afternoon we’ll travel about 20 minutes north to the village of Ertvelde, where we will tour the famous Van Steenberge Brewery at 2 p.m.and have a tasting. Piet, the father-in-law of the president, Jef Versele, will be our host. They are most famous for Piraat and Gulden Draak. Upon return to Ghent, you’ll likely have a little free time to relax and unwind before we have our farewell dinner, a nostalgic, beer laced and historical end to this grand tour and new group of friends. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner)
Day Six • Ghent Our grand Bruges Beer Festival Tour officially ends with breakfast. You may catch the train from Ghent-St.Pieters railway station (about 30 min.) to the BRU airport and just about anywhere in Europe. (Breakfast)
* This itinerary is subject to change.
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