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This incredible tour begins in the afternoon in Brussels as we meet at 14:00 in the lobby of our centrally-located hotel in Brussels.
You will do a tour of the nearby Cantillon Brewery, then meet for our welcome dinner at one of my favorite restaurants featuring Old-Brussels atmosphere, delectable cuisine a la bire and first-rate beer menu.
Morning is free to explore or just sleep in.
At 09:30, 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 14:00 we will meet in the lobby and have a walking tour of the city, followed by more free time. You will 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 worlds finest places for making you feel as though its 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.
Lunch and dinner is on your own. Later, in the evening at 8 p.m., you will meet in the lobby to informally tour some of the preeminent beer cafs in Brussels.
After breakfast we check out, and travel to Iepers to tour the very-moving In Flanders Field WWI museum.
From there, we head to nearby Westvleteren and the abbey of St. Sixtus and its brewery tap, In de Vrede, (In the Peace) for lunch and to indulge in their famous, exquisite and rare beers.
The abbey and brewery are not open to the general public, however, we will be able to see the exterior and if we are lucky buy some beer to go in their gift shop.
At 14:00, continue on to Bruges (about 1-hour drive). There, we will spend two nights at the our centrally located hotel.
You willl have the afternoon to explore the cobblestoned streets of Bruges. You are on your own for dinner.
Later this evening we meet for an informal tour of some of the most interesting beer cafes in the city.
Morning is free, and then we meet at 10:30 in the lobby for a short walking tour followed by a tour and lunch at 11 a.m. at the Halve Maan Brewery & Museum. They are the brewers of Zot and Straffe Hendrik.
After lunch, we will take canal boat ride and learn more about the history of Bruges.
This afternoon you have some more free time to take in the many sites of Bruges, rent a bike, take a carriage ride, visit museums, or just people watch, while savoring a Belgian beer in a sidewalk caf.
Tonight, dinner is on your own in one of Bruges many romantic and rustic restaurants. Your guide is available for dinner suggestions.
Breakfast and lunch provided.
We depart Bruges to go to Chimay for lunch, a beer tasting and tour of the Chimay Brewery and the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont grounds and the cemetery.
Just around the corner from the Abbey is Chimay brewery tap Auberge de Poteaupre, where we will have a late lunch featuring cheese from the Abbey and of course the entire lineup of Chimay ales.
After Chimay (time permitting), we transfer to Rochefort to take a look at the outside of the majestic abbey, which is not open to the public. There is a possibility of a tour here, but this cannot be confirmed at this time.
From there we drive to Mont, where we will stay for the next two nights at the Brewery Inn of Le Veille Forge operated by our gracious hosts Tine an Pol, who is also the brewer.
LeVeille Forge was just featured in the Celebrator Beer News. Pol brews two beers, which you will taste in the coolest tavern ever! Tonight at 19:00, we will have a traditional Ardennes Mountain dinner prepared by Tine and we will dine in the rustic dining room of the inn next to a large stone fireplace.
Before dinner you may visit the Grand Caf next to the inn and indulge on your own in Pols beers and other regional favorites.
Le Veille Forge is just down the road from Brasserie Achouffe, which features a wonderful tavern and gift shop called the Chouffe Shop, where you can stock up on gnome-themed souvenirs.
Breakfast and dinner provided.
Today is a big day as we head through the Ardennes Mountains to Trappist Orval for a brewery tour at 10:30 and lunch at 12:30.
After lunch, we will also tour the ruins of the old abbey and see the exterior of the new one.
You will also have time to visit the Orval gift shop.
You will have lunch at the brewery tap lAnge Gardien (Guardian Angel), located just a block from the Abbey.
The brewery of Orval is off limits to the public. We are being granted special access.
This evening we dine at 19:00 at the rustic Achouffe Tavern (about 1 km from our inn), and try all their incredible beers. Dinner is on your own.
Breakfast and lunch provided.
We head north to the Achel Trappist Brewery at the St. Benedictus Abbey for lunch, beers and a tour.
There is also a great beer retail store here, where you can stock up on a variety beer for home, including all the Trappists, except Westvleteren.
Next we travel to Tilburg, Netherlands, about 45 minutes away, where we will spend the night and have time to explore and sample some Dutch craft beers.
This afternoon, we have a beer tasting and tour at the La Trappe Brewery at the Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven.
This is the most accessible and user-friendly Trappist brewery and is excellently set up for visitors.
The tour includes a movie (in English), a first-class tour, food, and of course, beer!
Afterwards, we'll have dinner in their taproom.
The rest of the evening is free to explore vibrant Tilburg.
This morning, we depart Tilberg and head to Trappist Zundert (De Kievit Brewery), one of the newest Trappist breweries, to see the exterior of the Abbey Mary %Refuge, visit the gift shop and taste their beer in a local beer cafe.
Then we head south back into Belgium to visit the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle brewery tap Caf Trappisten and have lunch.
You will experience all the Westmalle beers as fresh to the source as possible. Order the Triptrap and get a dubbel mixed with tripel.
They also have a great short film about Westmalle, narrated by a guy, who puts James Earl Jones to shame. Listen for my favorite line in it, At Westmalle, time is %a reluctant servant... Across the street, we will see the beautiful exterior of the Abbey and its spectacular tree-lined driveway.
Then it's on to Mechelen, where well be staying at the Hotel Carolus right at the Het Anker Brewery. The hotel is built in the former bottling plant.
The rest of the day is free to discover Mechelen, have dinner on your own and visit the city's many beer cafes.
Mechelen is the perfect city in which to spend our last nights. It is an attractive, but much more intimate, historic city than Brussels.
At 11:00, we will meet in the lobby for a short walking tour to get you acclimated, then you will have most of today to explore it on your own.
It is suggested to pack a couple cold beers and climbing to the top of the belfry.
From the modern observation deck, the view is outstanding and on a clear day you can see both Antwerp and Brussels.
This evening, we have our farewell dinner at the brewery tap Het Anker Caf featuring the mind-blowing Goudon Carolus beers.
Breakfast and dinner provided.
Breakfast concludes this most memorable and satisfying Lonely Monks Trappist Tour.
Rail service between Mechelen and the BRU airport is frequent and takes about 20 minutes.
This is the quickest and easiest route to BRU avoiding the infamous Brussels traffic.
As an option for the October departure, combine this tour with The Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium and France the week preceding this Trappist Tour and have a full two weeks in Beer Paradise! For the May departure combine the Ardennes Mountain Beer Tour and the Trappist Tour.
On this tour we plan to visit the breweries of Achouffe, Caracole, Fantome, Rochefort, Chimay, Orval, Hoegaarden, Du Bocq, Des Fagnes, Bouillion, Trois Forquets and La Ferme Au Chene.We will also visit the Abbey of Maredsous, visit a castle, have an opportunity to rail bike, tour the Gambrinus Drivers (beer truck) Museum, and visit the famous WWII Museum in Bastogne, which chronicles the infamous Battle of the Bulge." We will also visit the Battlefield of Waterloo. There will be plenty of time to explore, sightsee, shop, dine, discover beer cafs on your own and completely enjoy your vacation.
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, Abbey Mont des Cats, Dupont, Dubuisson, 2 Caps, de 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.
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