THE BEST DAMN FARMHOUSE ALE TOUR
OF BELGIUM & FRANCE!

Eight Days, Seven Nights | TWO DEPARTURES A YEAR
• Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2017
• May 12-19, 2018
• Oct. 8-15, 2018

Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour
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Venture into the historic and scenic world of saisons and biére de gardes. Their roots can be traced to rustic ales originally brewed on farms for seasonal workers in this wide area once known as the Kingdom of Flanders (which then included parts of France, Belgium and the Netherlands).  On this tour you will experience breathtaking views, scenery, geography and architecture. You’ll enjoy regional cuisine and fine beer beyond compare.  We’ll visit some small independent artisanal breweries still located on working farms and sometimes large, modern ones, most situated in scenic countryside locations, where we’ll experience these very satisfying ales in rustic taprooms.  Some will be well-known breweries such as Brasserie Dupont and some you may not yet know, but soon will come to love. While the spirit of the tours remain the same, each Farmhouse Ale Tour departure itinerary will vary to take in different opportunities, keep it interesting for returning travelers and just because there are so many interesting breweries in a relatively small region.  There are two different itineraries for the May and October departures.  Also, while the theme of this tour is farmhouse ales, be assured you will have access to many styles of beer.

As a bonus, we will also visit the taprooms of Trappist Westlvleteren and Trappist Abbey of Mont des Cats, too... since we will be in the neighborhood.

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This tour feature two nights in the grand city of Antwerp, famous for its beer cafes, diamond district and museums.  The October departure features the now-famous Modeste Beer Festival, featuring more than 35 small Belgian breweries in addition to the Duvel Moortgat line of beers. The May departure features a private cheese and beer tasting at the famous Kaasmeester Van Tricht.

We will also be segueing into France for some beer hunting.  France has some amazing, but little known, beers and specifically farmhouse ales.  If you have not yet discovered fine French beer, you will be delightfully surprised.  Some people who have taken this tour have found their favorite beers of the entire tour in France.  You might, too.  They are just that good!
We will also visit the charming and romantic town of Cassel, located on one of three small “mountains” that rise out of the bucolic farm country of the Nord department of France.

“Beer has terroir. Not for the soil where the grain or hops are grown, but for the people in the area for whom the beer is brewed, who shape by their cultural expectations of how that beer will be.”
— Beer Writer Tim Webb

Farmhouse ales, with a few exceptions, come mostly from Wallonia region of Belgium in the south and the northwestern French departments of Nord and Pas de Calais. We will visit many breweries, brewery taprooms and beer cafés.

On this tour you will be staying in Antwerp, Leuven (sometimes Kortrijk) and the scenic hop growing region near Watou, close to the French border.  We will visit many breweries, beer cafés, and brewery taprooms.  

Tours Include

  • Seven 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.
  • Beer during brewery tours, taproom visits, festivals and company meals as listed on the itinerary.
  • Ground transportation via private luxury coach with professional driver.  Leave the driving to us!
  • 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.  Maximum size 24 people (half the size of some tour groups).
  • 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.

Spring and Fall are the perfect time to visit Belgium. Combine this tour with the Ardennes Mountain Beer Tour or Lonely Monks Trappist Tour that immediately follows and have a grand multi-week tour of beer paradise.

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Tour Cost

Deadline to sign up is one month before departure. 

$2295/per person + Air, Single supplement $495*

* Prices based on double room occupancy, per person, U.S. dollars, land only.  If you are a solo traveler and would like to have a private room all to yourself there is a single supplement fee of $495 in addition to the base price of $2295 per person.  We can also work with you to try to pair you with other single travelers of the same gender 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:

Belgium

  • Trappist Westvleteren
  • Trappist Abbey of Mont des Cats
  • Dupont
  • St. Bernardus
  • Dubuisson
  • Silly
  • St. Feuillien
  • Brunehaut
  • Fantome
  • Kerkom
  • Blaugies
  • de Cazeau
  • de Struise
  • de Kroon
  • de Plukker Organic Hop Farm and Brewery
  • National Hop Museum in Poperinge
  • WWI Plugstreet ’14-’18 Experience (Museum)
  • WWI Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
  • WWI Tyne Cot Cemetery & Visitor Center

 France

  • Thiriez
  • La Choulette
  • CH ‘Ti
  • 3 Monts
  • 2 Caps
  • de l'Abbaye du Cateau
  • du Pays Flamand
  • St. Germain
  • Bailleux (Au Baron)
“The Flemish are earthy lovers of life; the French have great style. The Flemish French have both qualities. People will tell you that Lille (the center of French Flanders) is an industrial city, an old textile town, but it also has fine Flemish architecture, beer of a matching flavor, local gins and its own hearty style of French food. The surrounding countryside varies from a former coal field to hop gardens to the poppy strewn Flanders’ field and sand-duned beaches of wartime memory as it fans out to Dunkirk and Calais in the west.”
— Michael Jackson, All About Beer

May Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium & France Itinerary

This remarkable tour takes us through parts of Belgium and Northern France few people will ever visit, but is home to a vast collection of luscious beers, many of them farmhouse ales.  During this tour, we plan to visit the breweries or taprooms of SillyWestvleterenSt. BernardusAbbey Mont des CatsDupontDubuisson2 Capsde l'Abbaye du Cateau & De Cazeau. This  spring tour also features two nights in Antwerp and a private cheese and beer tasting at the famous Kaasmeester Van Tricht. Their cheeses are sourced from the farthest corners of Europe and paired with some of Belgium's finest beers.  We will overnight in Antwerp, Watou, Kortrijk and Leuven.

Day One • Antwerp, Belgium   Our tour begins as we meet at 3 p.m. in the lobby of our hotel, adjacent to the Antwerp Central railway station. We’ll have a short walking tour of the historic city, then head directly to our welcome dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. (Dinner)

Day Two • Antwerp, Belgium   Morning is free to explore Antwerp.  Lunch is on your own today.  This afternoon, we meet in the lobby to head to our special cheese and beer tasting at Kassmeester Van Tricht, located in the former bottling plant of the historic De Koninck Brewery and now the De Koninck Experience.  Dinner is on your own.  At 8 p.m., we meet for an informal tour of some of Antwerp’s famous beer cafes. (Breakfast)

Day Three • Watou, Belgium   Morning is free to sleep in, explore or shop (we are in the diamond district, after all).  We check out of our hotel and meet in the hotel lobby at 11 a.m. and head to to Brasserie Silly for lunch and beers their amazing beers.  Then it’s on to the charming village of Watou, where will spend the next three nights at the distinguished Brouwershuis B&B at the St. Bernardus Brewery.  I know a brewer in Seattle, who named his son after Watou.  Think of the impact it could make on you.  This is serious hop country, although, the beers are very well balanced and not overly hoppy.  As an added bonus to this tour, we will have dinner at the famous Trappist Westvleteren taproom In de Verde.  Dinner is on your own and the company buys the beers.  With any luck, you may be able to purchase some Westvleteren to go at their gift shop.  It’s always hit and miss.  Come on beer angels! (Lunch)

Day Four 7 • Watou   This morning we have a leisurely breakfast, which will spoil you for the rest.  Afterwards, we’ll travel to nearby Poperinge to visit the National Hop Museum.  It’s located in a rustic old hop warehouse, is interactive and more fascinating than you may think it is going to be.  You’ll be amazed.  Lunch is on your own.  Poperinge is a charming small historic town, set in the epicenter of the Belgian hop-growing region.  You’ll have your choice of several restaurants located on the market square.   Then, we head to the picturesque village of  Cassel, France, for a visit and take some photos from on top of Mont Cassel.  Our excursion into France continues to  Brasserie, 2 Caps, in Tardinghen, on the epic  Opal Coast, arguably one of the most beautiful places in France.  2 Caps sublime beers are not currently available in the United States, so we must go there to enjoy them.  Tonight, we will dine at one of my favorite restaurants in France.   Then, it’s back to the Brouwershuis for a good night sleep.  (Breakfast & dinner)

Day Five • Watou  This has the makings of a very special day.  Morning is free to have a leisurely breakfast, enjoy the grounds of the Brouwershuis, go for a bike ride and visit the St. Bernardus gift shop.  Today, we have lunch at one of my favorite local cafes.  After lunch, we drop back into France to make an excursion to Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Cateau, located in and old Benedictine abbey and now producing some exceptional beers.  Afterward, we will have dinner at Auberge du Mont des Cats, the taproom of the Trappist  Trappist Abbey of Mont des Cats,, the namesake of the relatively new unofficial, pseudo Trappist beer.  The beer is contract brewed for the abbey by Chimay, and since it is not brewed within the walls of the Abbey Mont des Cats, does not meet the criteria for the official Trappist designation.  The Auberge  overlooks over the bucolic hills and farmland of this part of France. Dinner is on your own and the company is buying the beer.  Then it’s back to the bottomless St. Bernardus beer fridge at the Brouwershuis. Abt. 12, for a nightcap, anyone? (Breakfast & lunch)

Day Six • Kortrijk   This morning, we say goodbye to the Brouwershuis and head to historic Kortrijk, where we will overnight. On the way there, we head to the undisputed king of farmhouse ale breweries,  Brassierie Dupont, for a tour at 10:30 a.m with Brewmaster Olivier Dedeycker.  This is a treat!  It is only through special connections we have this access.  Afterward, we’ll have lunch at  Brasserie Dubuisson, and then a tour.  Dubuisson beers are known as "Scaldis" in North America.   A short drive from there will put us in historic Kortrijk,  where we will check into our hotel.   (Breakfast & lunch)

Day Seven • Leuven  Morning is free to explore, shop, sleep in, etc.   Lunch is on your own  At 1 p.m.,  we depart for Brasserie De Cazeau,, home of Tournay beers, where we will have a tour and tasting with Brewmaster Laurent Agache.  Afterwards, we journey north to the historic university town of Leuven,  where we will have our farewell dinner at 6:30 p.m. at one of my favorite restaurants in Leuven.  We’ll be staying in the heart of town at the near the railway station.  Leuven is a large, but very quaint town, where you can easily walk to most everything.  There are lots of beer cafés and much nightlife.  Leuven boasts the “Longest Bar in Europe” with its Oud Markt (Old Market square) that has at least 34 bars around the perimeter of it.  Check out the “meter” of beer you can order there and try one if you dare. (Breakfast & dinner)

Day Eight • Leuven   Our grand Farmhouse Ale tour officially ends with breakfast.  You may catch the train from Leuven about 15 minutes to the BRU airport and just about anywhere in Europe.  I will be going to Brussels to begin the Trappist Tour of Belgium & the Netherlands.  As an option, consider doing this tour, too.  Thank you for participating in the Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium and France!  (Breakfast)

* This itinerary is subject to change.

October Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium & France Itinerary

This remarkable tour takes us through parts of Belgium and Northern France few people will ever visit, but is home to a vast collection of luscious beers, many of them farmhouse ales.  During this tour, we plan to visit the breweries or taprooms of Silly, Westvleteren, St. Bernardus, Thiriez, Abbey Mont des Cats, Dupont, St. Germain, De Kroon & Brunehaut.  This tour also features Antwerp and the now-famous Modeste Beer Festival.  We will overnight in Antwerp, Watou, Tournai and Leuven.

Day One • Antwerp, Belgium   Our tour begins as we meet at 1 p.m. in the lobby of our hotel, adjacent to the Antwerp Central railway station. We’ll have a short walking tour of the historic city, then visit the De Koninck Experience, where you will learn more about this grand city and its historic beer.   This evening, we will have our welcome dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. (Dinner)

Day Two • Antwerp, Belgium   Morning is free to explore Antwerp.  Lunch is on your own today.  This afternoon, we meet in the lobby to head to the Modeste Beer Festival, held at the De Koninck Brewery, featuring more than 35 small Belgian breweries in addition to the Duvel Moortgat line of beers.  The beer festival is a tribute to a brave brewer, late Modeste Van den Bogaert of de Koninck Brewery.  Modeste is the French word for "modest" and therefore only small Belgian brewers are invited to submit their beers to this very, very special festival.  Festival admission and beer is included in your tour.  Dinner is on your own.  At 8 p.m., we meet for an informal tour of some of Antwerp’s famous beer cafes. (Breakfast)

Day Three • Watou, Belgium   Morning is free to sleep in, explore or shop (we are in the diamond district, after all).  We check out of our hotel and meet in the hotel lobby at 11 a.m. and head to to Brasserie Silly for lunch and beers their amazing beers.  Then it’s on to the charming village of Watou, where will spend the next three nights at the distinguished Brouwershuis B&B  at the St. Bernardus Brewery.  I know a brewer in Seattle, who named his son after Watou.  Think of the impact it could make on you.  This is serious hop country, although, the beers are very well balanced and not overly hoppy.  As an added bonus to this tour, we will have dinner at the famous Trappist Westvleteren taproom In de Verde.  Dinner is on your own and the company buys the beers.  With any luck, you may be able to purchase some Westvleteren to go at their gift shop.  It’s always hit and miss.  Come on beer angels! (Lunch)

Day Four • Watou   This morning we have a leisurely breakfast, which will spoil you for the rest.  Afterwards, we’ll travel to nearby Poperinge to visit the National Hop Museum.  It’s located in a rustic old hop warehouse, is interactive and more fascinating than you may think it is going to be.  You’ll be amazed.  Lunch is on your own.  Poperinge is a charming small historic town, set in the epicenter of the Belgian hop-growing region.  You’ll have your choice of several restaurants located on the market square.   Then, we head to the picturesque village of Cassel, France, for a visit and take some photos from on top of Mont Cassel.  Afterwards, we head north a little to the charming Brasserie Thiriez for a 4 p.m. tour with the always-friendly brewer Daniel Thiriez, for whom the brewery is named.  This little farmhouse brewery will impress.  They have a great beer sign collection in the café. Tonight, we will dine at one of my favorite restaurants in France.   Then, it’s back to the Brouwershuis for a good night sleep.  (Breakfast & dinner)

Day Five • Watou   This has the makings of a very special day.  Morning is free to have a leisurely breakfast, enjoy the grounds of the Brouwershuis, go for a bike ride and visit the St. Bernardus gift shop.  Today, we have lunch at one of my favorite local cafes.  After lunch, we drop back into France to make an excursion to Brasserie St. Germain, in Aix-Noulette.    The brewery is famous for its Page 24 series of beers.  Afterward, we will have dinner at Auberge du Mont des Cats, the taproom of the Trappist Abbey of Mont des Cats, the namesake of the relatively new unofficial, pseudo Trappist beer.  The beer is contract brewed for the abbey by Chimay, and since it is not brewed within the walls of the Abbey Mont des Cats, does not meet the criteria for the official Trappist designation.  The Auberge  overlooks over the bucolic hills and farmland of this part of France. Dinner is on your own and the company is buying the beer.  Then it’s back to the bottomless St. Bernardus beer fridge at the Brouwershuis.  Abt. 12, for a nightcap, anyone? (Breakfast & lunch)

Day Six • Leuven   This morning, we say goodbye to the Brouwershuis and head to Leuven.   On the way there, we visit the undisputed king of farmhouse ale breweries,  Brassierie Dupont, for a tour at 10:30 a.m with Brewmaster Olivier Dedeycker.  This is a treat!  It is only through special connections we have this access.  Afterward, we’ll have lunch at nearby and magnificent Brasserie Dubuisson.   Their beers are known as Scaldis outside of Belgium.  We'll round out the afternoon with a visit Brasserie Brunehaut, home of exquisite  St. Martin and Brunehaut beers, where we will have a tour and tasting with Brewmaster Marc-Antoine De Mees.  Afterwards, we journey north to the historic university town of Leuven(Breakfast & lunch)

Day Seven • Leuven   Morning is free to explore, shop, sleep in, etc. Lunch is on your own this afternoon at the nearby De Kroon Brewery and Cafe.  This is one of the newest breweries in the region, yet set in a former brewery with a strong history.  You will be amazed at these beers.  Tonight, we will have our farewell dinner at  at one of my favorite restaurants in Leuven.  We’ll be staying in the heart of town at the near the railway station.  Leuven is a large, but very quaint town, where you can easily walk to most everything.  There are lots of beer cafés and much nightlife.  Leuven boasts the “Longest Bar in Europe” with its Oud Markt (Old Market square) that has at least 34 bars around the perimeter of it.  Check out the “meter” of beer you can order there and try one if you dare. (Breakfast & dinner)

Day Eight • Leuven  Our grand Farmhouse Ale tour officially ends with breakfast.  You may catch the train from Leuven about 15-20 minutes to the BRU airport and just about anywhere in Europe.  The Trappist Tour of Belgium & the Netherlands begins today in Brussels.  As an option, consider combining these two great tours for the ultimate beer tour!   (Breakfast)

* This itinerary is subject to change.

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“...We both want to thank you again for doing such a good job putting this tour together and leading it. Insuring that everything runs smoothly and looks effortless takes a tremendous amount of work and a diverse skill set and you did an extraordinary job putting everything together. In the past Anne and I have always put our own trips together, and we were a little nervous about what it would be like to do a group tour. However, our fears turned out to be completely unfounded and we both agree that there is no way we could have come close to duplicating your tour on our own. We are already talking about what our next tour should be.”
— John & Anne from Boston