An 18-day Belgian beer mega-tour
Feel like every time you take a Belgian beer trip it ends juuuust when you're hitting your stride? Then you should just take two in a row, which you totally can thanks to the folks at Belgian Beer Me!, who're combining their eight-day Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium & France with their ten-day Lonely Monks Trappist Tour this October.
This is Stu Stuart. Not only is he awesomely named, but he also plans & leads amazing beer trips via his tour company Belgian Beer Me!, and he'll be your guide for the duration.
Stu's got your whole stay planned out, and your fees'll pre-pay for a bunch of meals, lots of beer, all lodging, and all ground transport... which'll mainly be chartered buses full of people sleeping off massive beer hangovers.
The Best Damn Farmhouse Ale leg of the tour is eight days, seven nights, and starts in Antwerp at the Modeste Beer Festival -- which, considering it features more than 35 of Belgium's best breweries -- isn't really modest at all.
Antwerp may be pretty swell, but after a day at the beer fest & breakfast at this place, the only thing truly silly would be staying there.
From Antwerp, you actually head into Belgian/French farmhouse country... literally.
The next three days will be spent in Watou, Belgium at the B&B-equipped St. Bernardus Brewery. While in Watau, you'll do everything from hitting Belgium's hop museum to having dinner in the "famous" Trappist Westvleteren taproom In de Vrede.
While staying in Watou, you'll be popping in and out of France on daily side trips, like one to the village of Cassel, where they amazingly only have regular houses.
The rest of the Best Damn Farmhouse Tour is split between Tournai & Leuven and's filled with vistas like this, as well as eating/drinking at famous brasseries like Dupont, Bailleux, and Brunehaut. You'll even visit the "longest bar in Europe" in Leuven, which's made of more than 34 actual bars and sells something called the "meter of beer", which'll probably have you off your feet.
The moment the BDFT ends, while the lesser beer travelers head back to the states, you'll be heading to Brussels for the start of leg two of your journey.
On the ten day/nine night Lonely Monks Trappist Beer Tour of Belgium and The Netherlands, you best be ready to spend some time in church... because the whole tour's dedicated to beers brewed at abbeys by monks.
This, by the way, is a modern-day monk. You'll notice he's nothing like those Friar Tuck-looking dudes you see on Belgian beer bottles.
One of the first stops on the tour is Bruges, and while you're in Bruges, you'll hit the abbey of St. Sixtus to lunch at their taproom, take a history of Bruges canal boat ride, and have a tour/meal at a brewery and museum called "Halve Mann"; probably in reference to those who only took the first half of this trip.
From Bruges, you cut through the thoroughly pastoral setting of the Chimay Brewery before heading to Mont for two nights at the Brewery Inn of Le Veille Forge.
The big deal that happens when you're staying in Mont is a day trip through the Ardennes to Trappist Orval, which's closed to the public, but opens its gates to Stu's group for a tour, lunch, and exploration of the ruins of the old abbey. Oh, and beer.
After stops at the Achel Trappist Brewery in the St. Benedictus Abbey and then a night in Tillburg, Netherlands (where the glory of glories happens at La Trappe Brewery at the Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven), the trip comes to a stop in Mechelen, Belgium and Trappist hop-house of the Het Anker Brewery. Finally, there's a farewell dinner featuring beers by Goudon Carolus, which is pretty Goudon them.