Fun & Beer Tour Belgium 2010

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Planes! Trains and Automobiles! Welcome to the Global Beer Network Fun and Beer Tour 2010!!!  The tour participants came from New Hampshire, Massachusetts,Pennsylvania, Canada, Kansas, and California. We were a group of ten but it was still a fun and interesting bunch of people.  We arrived in Brussels on Sunday September 12th, 2010.  At 4pm, we met Regnier (our tour guide) at our first hotel (Hotel Novotel) in their bar. The tour was kicked off by enjoying our first beer and getting to know one another.

After meeting everyone, we went on a sightseeing tour.  The first stop was The Atomium.  It was presented at the World Fair of Brussels in 1958.  It consists of nine spheres an d stands at 334.65 feet and is just a spectacular sight to look at. The Atomium also has a hotel inside of it. The next stop on our tour was the The Cinquantenaire Park Monument.  The Monument commenrates Belgium's 50th Anniversary of their  Independence.   We took some pictures of it and then hopped back onto the bus. We also drove past the Royal Palace.

 

After the sightseeing tour, we walked to the Grand Place and had dinner at the La Rose Blanche Restaurant. Our first dinner was fun and a delicious one.  For the Aperitief beer, we had a Brugs with Black Currants.  The first course was salad with goat cheese over toast drizzled with Balsamic dressing and was paired with a Brugs.  The second course was Salmon with rice and vegetables paired with a Grimbergen Dubble.  For dessert, we had a Belgian Waffle with whip cream and cherry sauce with whole cherries in it and was paired with a Morte Subite Cherry Beer.   

After the dinner, there were some of us that were sill awake enough to go on a pubcrawl. The Hotel was within walking distance for those who were too tired.  However, the nightowls of the group got to see the Mannekin Pis statue.  Then we crawled to “Poesjenellekelder” Bar, a former puppet theater now beer bar with an excellent choice of beer, also to “ A la Mort Subite” Bar meaning "At the Sudden Death"-- a former lambic brewery located next to an undertaker, hence the appropriate name and “The Delriium Cafe” Bar. We headed back to the hotel after our pubcrawl and tried to get a goodnight's sleep!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday September 13th, 2010

Good Morning! We had to be packed and ready for the bus by 10:30 am.  The breakfast was included in the price so that was a plus!!! Around 10:30 am., we took a short ride to Brewery Cantillon Lambic Brewery.  Our tour guide was Jean Van Roy. This brewery is family-owned and was founded in 1900. It is the last lambic brewery in the city centre. They use spontaneous fermentation to brew their lambic beers. The beer is brewed in the winter months, from late October till early April.  This happens because the wort needs to cool from the boiling temperature to a temperature of 68 F and this is impossible in the summer months. The Lambic is then placed in wooden barrels and ferments for six months to three years. They also make a Geuze which is a blending of different barrels with different ages.  Another interesting beer that they brew is the “Faro”. This beer is a Geuze blended with some candy sugar.  It is made in tiny barrels and is only intended for local pubs. We got a chance to try it and their other beers. (Lambic, Geuze, Rose de Gambrinus, and Cantillon Mamouche. We were served a cheese and meat plate also.

 

After this interesting tour and tasting, we drove to the town of Lembeek. We went to lunch at In 't Goo Plasjke (In the good place). It was a beautiful day out so we sat outside. We got to choose what we ate and got the opportunity to try Kriek Boon.  

 

We went to Brewery Boon  after lunch. Our tour guide was named Ward. He was a very charming and comical tour guide. After the tour, we went back to the place we ate at and had a tasting of their beers. We tried the Geuze Boon, Geuze Mariage Parfait (“The Perfect Marriage") and tried the Kriek Boon (both on tap and in the bottle). 

The day wasn't over yet because we still had one brewery left to visit. We traveled to the village of Silly in the Walloon region to visit Brasserie de Silly.  Our tour guide was Didier Van der Haegen which is Lionel's father. He was very informative and kind to us. This brewery is family-owned and is in its fifth generation. It was first mentioned on paper in the 1850s. An interesting fact is that during World War I, the brewer painted the brew kettles to hide them from the Germans because they wanted the copper to use them for their war machines. We were able to see their brewhouse and their bottling plant. They have new tanks where the fermentation and lagering takes place in the same tank. The temperature is just adjusted to switch between the two processes. After the tour, we got to choose what we wanted to taste. We just relaxed and had a few beers. Nobody wanted to leave but Regnier told us that we had to go to dinner.

We drove twenty minutes thru the Flemish Ardennes to get to the restaurant. Some of us enjoyed that twenty minutes by taking a nice catnap. We had dinner at “In D'Oude Pompe”.  For the first course, we had soup.  The second course was a boiled ham with green beans, spinach, and croquets.  There was a dessert table and we got to choose from chocolate pudding and pastries.  Also, we got to choose what we wanted to drink.  After dinner, we had a  forty minute drive to Ghent where our next hotel was.  We checked into the Mariott Ghent River Hotel and then went to bed. 

 

Tuesday September 14th, 2010
Good Morning!!! Our first stop was Brewery Roman in Oudenaarde. We were impressed by this brewery because they strated brewing in 1545. We also got to see them brewing the beer. Our tour guide was Andy Vandenblouche. Brewery Roman brews Sloeber, Ename, and Adriaen Brouwer. After the tour, we went to the tasting room and tried their beer. Some of us even bought some souveniers from there. We went to Vietavie for lunch after the tour. Everyone enjoyed this lunch. We had shrimp salad, beef and frites(French fries with mayonaise), and pie.

After lunch, we headed over to Brewery De Ryck.  This brewery was impressive because it has one of very few female brewers. The brewer is Anne De Ryck. The history of the brewery dates back to 1886 when Gustaaf De Ryck founded the brewery in Herzele. It was originally called "De Gouden Arend"(The Golden Eagle). However, World War one put a halt on Gustaaf's dream because the copper kettles were taken. In 1920, the brewery reopened under the family name, De Ryck. Our tour guide, (Miek) told us the history of the brewery while we enjoyed their "Special De Ryck" (this was the first beer brewed when the Brewery reopened. After we learned about the history, Miek guided us through the Brewery. The Brewery has two wells and also has a malt mill. We tasted the more of their beer after the tour. However, some of us were anxious to go to the annual fair. We arrived at the annual fair and it was basically a home show. The exciting part though was the longest bar which was created by Luc from Brewery Bavik. This bar showcased 50 different Belgian Beers. We also met up with Stefaan from Brewery The Musketeers.

                                       

                                          

 

Picture on the left: Stefaan (Brewery Musketeers) and Cassandra (Global Beer Network)
Picture on the right: Cassandra and Luc (Brewery Bavik)

Group at the Annual Fair in front of the longest bar(From left to Right: Jef, Ken, Dennis, Regnier, Gino, Stefaan, Cassandra, Marissa and Sharon.)

We went to dinner at T'Stromphe Restaurant in Ghent.   We had Waterzooi( stew with chicken) and we had a Augustijn Brune with it.  We got to drink what we wanted afterwards.  For the dessert, we had chocolate mousse. After dinner, some of us went pubcrawling in Ghent. We went to the Bierhaus. Then we went to De Dulle Griet. While we were there, one of the participants had a 1.2 liter of the House Beer. She had to give up her left shoe and it was put in a basket that was hanging from the ceiling. This glass is expensive so this is one way to deter a person from stealing it. Of course, she shared her beer. We walked back to the Hotel in Ghent.

Wednesday September 15th, 2010

 

Goodbye Ghent!!! :/

Before we left this beautiful city, we got a chance to take pictures of the Belfry tower with the Golden Dragon on top of it.  It was a spectacular sight.   We drove to Brewery Dupont in the village of Tourpes in the central western Hainaut region. Our tour guide was Olivier. We learned that this brewery has been brewing since 1844. The fourth generation is running this brewery. They brew a lager Pils, Bios fruits, Avec Les Bons Voeux, and a Christmas beer. The brewery also has a cheese factory and it was created in 1995. They make their cheeses with the beer that they brew. We were able to try the Lager Pils, Bios Fruits, Avec Les Bons Voeux, and a Christmas beer. The cheese, pepperoni, salami, and pickles were a nice pairing.

 

After we had the tasting, we drove to Brewery Dubisson in Pipaix. We ate lunch at the Brewery before we took the tour. We had a cheese and meat plate with a small salad and frites. After lunch, we went on the tour. Our tour guide was Willy. The brewery is in its 8th generation. It is the oldest brewery in the French part of Belgium. The brewery was founded in 1769.  In 2000, the brewery brewed a special beer in  celebration of the Millenium. The beer starts out as Bush Ambree. It is then stored in oak barrels for six months instead of stainless steal vats. The beer is then filtered and yeast and sugar is added. It goes through a third fermentation and is placed in a 68 degrees Fahrenheit room (20 degrees Celsius) for two-four weeks. They called the beer, Millenium beer. The following year, they had to change the name to Prestige. You can find their beer in the U.S. under the name, Scaldis. After this interesting tour, we got to taste Cuvee des Trolls (7%ABV.), Busch Blonde (10.5%ABV.) and Busch Ambree (12%ABV.). We were running out of time so the tour guide gave us a bottle of Prestige (13%ABV.) to take with us. 

After visiting Brewery Dubisson, we took a break from drinking and visited a castle in Beloeil .  Regnier had to translate  what  the tour guide was saying.  The castle was a medieval fortress in the 13th century and then became a residential Palace in the 17th and 18th centuries.  It belongs to the Princes of Ligne and they are one of Belgium's highest ranking noble family.  We drove a half hour to the Picobrouwerij Alvinne in Heule near the Belgian city of Kortrijk. We tasted the beers before we went on the short tour. We had the opportunity to taste the Naked Lady and the Rerasus Vintage 2009. The Picobrouwerij is a two room operation and only brews 33,021.51 gallons. (1,250 hectoliters.). After the tour, we drove to Brugge and ate at Erasamus.  We ate shrimp croquets and lamb.  For the beer, we drank Rodenbach Vintage Grand Cru.  After we ate, we went back to the Hotel in Brugge.  
 

 

 

Thursday September 16th, 2010
Around 9:30 am, we drove to Ertvelde to visit Brewery Van Steenberge.  We were supposed to visit Brewery Bavik first but they were too busy in the morning.  Our tour guide was Pierre Van Roe which is Theresa's father. He was informative and a nice person.  We got to see the brewery, the bottling line and the warehouse. The brewery was founded in 1874. This brewery produces 70,000 barrels a year. The beers that they brew are Piraat,  Gulden Draak, Augustijn, Cherish Kriek and Framboise, Bornem Double and Triple, Bruegel, Leute Bok, Monks Cafe and Klokke Roeland. After the tour, we got to taste their delicious beers. Jef Versele joined us for a beer and was very kind to us.

After visiting Brewery Van Steenberge, we drove a hour to the Track 75 Restaurant (an old railway station restaurant). We had Beef stew, salad, and frites with a side of maynoaise. We got to choose what we wanted to drink.  After lunch, we visited Brewery Bavik

 which is located in the town of Bavikhove, near Kortrijk. Assistant brewer Yves Benoit gave us a very nice tour of this large Flemish brewery, which was founded in 1894 and is now in the fourth generation of the Debrabander family. We got to meet Bert DeBrabander (son of the owner). Yves was very informative. We were able to see the brewery, the warehouse

the big oak barrels, and the two bottling lines. They also showed us how the kegs got filled even though they weren't doing it that day. Also, we were impressed by their laboratory where they multiply the yeast and do other tests on the beer. After the tour, we went to the tasting room that overlooked the bottling lines. We got to choose from the Petrus brands, Bavik (unpasteurized Pilsner), Wittekerke, Wittekerke Framboise and the Pilaarbijiters.
We stopped off at the famous 'Roste Muis Bar (an old smugglers nest on the border) for a few beers. Afterwards, we were all excited for our next stop!!! We traveled to the village of Philippine just over the border in the Netherlands for their

famous mussel-dinner.We had a partner and we were given a huge bowl of mussels to split. A few of us finished the mussels.
We also had Frites and had Augustijn for our beer.  After Dinner, we went back to the hotel in Brugge.

 

Friday, September 17th, 2010

In the morning, we drove through Ieper. It was a sunny day.  We were able to drive through the the Menim Gate. The Menim Gate is a war memorial that honors the British and Commonwealth soldiers that died in the Ypres Salient of World War I and their graves are unknown. We did not attend The Last Post Ceremony. The Last Post Ceremony shows the people's gratitude toward those who died for Belgium's freedom. The bus driver drove us to the Hop Museum. Everyone got an audio guide and explored the museum at their own pace. After the museum, we stopped off at a Hops field and took some pictures. 

 
 

Next, we drove to the Westvletern.  We  only saw the outside of it because it was undergoing construction. However, Regnier talked about the Abbey. It was the first of the Trappist breweries. There are six in Belgium and one in Holland. There are 25-30 Monks that work there. A Monk's day consists of praying and working. Regnier gave us each a bottle of the beer so we could try it. We went to lunch at a Bed and Breakfast Inn called Schraevenacker. This place is in the middle of nowhere. We got to choose what we ate. The Inn had the beer from the next brewery that we would be going to (Brewery Struisse Brouwers) so some of us tried it.
 
 
 

 

 

After lunch, we went to Brewery Struisse Brouwers.   This brewery was established in 2001. Our tour guides were Armand and Carlo. We got to see their small brewhouse that is used to test samples and small batches. They also have a bigger brewhouse for larger brews. The brewer uses open fermentation and the beer fermentates for five days. For the second fermentation, the beer is put into closed tanks. After the tour, we got to taste their beers. The tasting room was an old classroom. We tasted Kloeke Blonde(6%ABV.), Pipedream(brewed in collaboration with Brewery Alvinne, Brewery De StruisseBrouwers, and Pipeworks Brewing Company)(7.8%ABV.), Elliot brew(made with fine spices and candi sugars and is an IIPA)(9%ABV.), and CuveeDelphine(stout)(13%ABV.).

Sitting in the classroom, drinking beer and listening to the tour guide; Why couldn't we have a class like this back home?!?!?!?!?!

    Next, we went to Brewery Van Eecke.  This brewery was established in 1862. They were not brewing today but they brew four days a week.  
For filtration, 
they use cotton sheets. We got to see their brewhouse and the museum. They also have a second brewhouse for bottling. In the museum, we saw their old bottling line. It was able to fill 4,800 bottles a hour. After the tour, we headed next door to the pub so we could try their beers. Everyone tried Poperings Hommel. Also, we got to meet Hendrik Leroy.
After the tasting, we went to the world famous Hommelhof restaurant. For the first course, we had a cheese and beer soup and drank the house beer called Cuvee Hommelhof. The main course wa ham knuckle, roasted potatoes and salad and we drank St. Bernardus Tripel(8%ABV.)  For dessert, we had chocolate mousse with a waffle chip and we drank St. Bernardus Abt. 12 (10%ABV.)

 
 
Saturday September 18th, 2010
Today, we got to have some free time in Brugge. There is so many different sites to experience in this beautiful city. You can take a 30 minute boat trip on the canal, go shopping or climb the Belfrey tower 
which is 365 steps. Our tour guide works at the Bier Tempel which has excellent souvenirs for your loved ones. He also recommended a delicious chocolate store called Van OOst.
Around 3pm, some of the people on the tour went to Brewery De Halve Maan.  The brewhouse, dating from the 1950s, is still modern compared to some we have seen!!! Two beers are brewed: the "Brugse Zot blond" a 6% blond ale, that won the gold medal the World Cup in Seattle in 2006 and 2008. There is also the "Brugse Zot Dubbel", a brown ale of 7.5% with a nice malty character. After the tour, we met in the Market square near the statue. Regnier took us on a pubcrawl. At the bar, we drank what we wanted and played games. We played flip coasters and blowing cards off a beer bottle.
 
 
Our last dinner was at Cambrinus. For the first course, we had ham and cheese croquets and drank the house beer. The main course was ribeye marinated in Sloeber(Brewery Roman) and we drank Ename Tripel. For dessert, we had Sabayon and drank Liefmans Kriek. Regnier bought a beer hat and awarded it to Jef because he was always asking questions and excited about the brewery tours. After dinner, we said goodbye to Regnier and the bus driver drove us to the Brussels Airport Hotel. This was another great trip. We hope you join us for next year's trip. It will be Regnier's tenth year doing the tour and also the Hops festival!!!!!!!!!!!