Belgium for Beer Lovers
Food & Wine
The Kingdom of Belgium is famous for many things - history and landmark battles; fries, waffles and chocolate; art and music. But for the beer aficionado, it is a special destination known for its many breweries and distinct style. You may be able to time your visit during the many beer festivals that take place annually. Where do you even start to explore Belgium as a beer lover? Keep reading…
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Where to stay
Hotel De Castillion
Located in the heart of Bruges, this elegant hotel boasts warm rooms, a garden, bar and Art-Deco lounge.
Hotel De Orangerie
15th-century convent with a classy and elegant upgrade in its lush suites located in the heart of Bruges.
Sofitel Brussels Europe
This sophisticated and elegant property is located in the heart of the city, close to the famous Cinquantenaire park and several museums. Your room will have a view of the hotel's beautiful interior patio or the Jourdan Square.
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Day 1: Exploring Brussels - beer and architecture
You will likely arrive in Brussels first. Check into your hotel and head to the Grand Place to check out the architecture while lunching on moules frites and, of course, beer at Delirium Cafe or Little Delirium.
Then walk or catch a train to Cantillon for a tour and tasting including lambic, gueuze and kriek. In the same neighborhood, you can visit Brasserie de l’Ermitage for an IPA.
Day 2: Brussels - beer, food and sights
You will need at least another day in Brussels. After breakfast, head to Beer Mania, a bottle shop where you can select special bottles to bring home with you.
Then make your way to Restobieres for lunch - most dishes include beer in their preparation and they are happy to share the recipes.
You may choose to take in some other attractions - find Manneken Pis, take a street art tour, visit the Comic Art Museum or Autoworld. When you are ready for your next brew, try something different with a stop at the Brussels Beer Project or Brasserie de la Senne.
Day 3: Trappist brewery tour - Chimay
Today you are checking out of your hotel in Brussels and heading to your first Trappist brewery. A car is ideal for the next couple of days, but it is still possible to travel by train and bus to these destinations.
Depending on how early you leave Brussels, you may want to make a stop in Mons and walk around a bit. But your destination today is Chimay. The Chimay Expérience takes less than an hour and ends with a beer at the adjoining Auberge de Poteaupré. The cafe serves lunch consisting of various dishes prepared with Chimay beer and/or cheese and suggested pairings. If you have time to spare in the area, visit Notre Dame de Scourmont Gardens or check out the Chimay castle.
Day 4: Trappist brewery tour - Westvleteren
Leave Chimay behind and head toward your second Trappist brewery, Saint Sixtus Abbey, to find one of the most elusive beers in the world, Westvleteren. You can try to preorder their beer online, but you have a better chance of buying a small quantity at the cafe, In de Vrede. While you are there, try one of there lesser known brews and have lunch made with abbey cheese or an ice cream. Also in the area is the large St. Bernardus Visitor Center - book ahead for a tour - where you can judge for yourself if the recipes compare to Westvleteren. Head into Leper for dinner.
Day 5: Exploring Bruges beer scene
After breakfast, turn toward Bruges. When you arrive you can either return your rental car or park it outside the city in the car parks. Start with the most famous Bruges brewery tour at De Halve Maan. This place literally pipes their beer under the streets to their bottling plant outside the city! Then head over to the Beer Experience for a self-guided tour. Finish your night at the moody Le Trappiste Bar.
Day 6: Final taste of Belgium
If you happen to have another day to spend in Bruges, look for the little Bourgogne des Flanders microbrewery. Then head over to the beer wall at 2be bar for canal side drinking. You will want to stop by one of the many bottle shops too, as this is your last day in Belgium. Find something to bring home and open when you want to be transported back to Belgium.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out my guide, Best Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Europe.