New! Alvinne Craft Beer Festival Tour of Belgium--Feb. tba-Mar. tba, 2014 • Eight Days, Seven Nights.
Alvinne Craft Beer Festival and incorporates touring with one of the world’s foremost authorities on Belgian Beer, Great Britain’s Chris Pollard (below, right), better known in beer circles as “Podge.” He is the co-author of LambicLand and Around Bruges in 80 Beers. In addition to being an authority on beer and a veteran beer tour leader, Podge’s personality and character is just a joy in which to be around. We are indeed fortunate to be able to experience this great festival and spend time with our friend Podge and his British beer hunters. When the British and American beer enthusiasts come together, the meeting of the cultures is fun, interesting and fascinating for both groups. Add this to being in the beer paradise of Belgium, and the combination is a guaranteed good time!
The Alvinne Craft Beer Festival (ACBF) in recent years has become one of the best, but relatively unknown, international beer festivals in the world. It is fairly small, lines for beer, food and restrooms is minimal if at all and there is plenty of access to friendly brewers eager to talk about their beers and breweries.
In 2010, the Festival (Left) featured more than 120 beers, from 18 innovative breweries, representing eight countries: Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States (Stillwater & Grassroots). At the festival you will find many styles of beer: IPAs, Porters, Rauchbiers, bocks, barrel aged beers and lambics, to name just some of them. This is an invitational festival for the brewers as hand picked by the organizers of ACBF. The Festival, now in its fifth year, is organized by the three partners of the Picobrewery Alvinne, now located in Moen, Belgium, which is also the location of the Festival. The Festival also features a beer shop and food such as soups, stews and salads.
In the days leading up to and after the festival, we will have a furious itinerary visiting some of Belgium’s finest breweries, taprooms and beer cafes, including: Halve Maan, Struise, DuPont, Dubuision, Ellezeloise, Cantillon, Het Anker, Rodenbach, Slaghmuylder, Westvleteren and In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst (Insurance Against the Great Thirst lambic cafe), which will be opening just for us.
We will begin our tour with two nights in the romantic medieval city of Bruges (Left), then have four nights at the four-star Keizershof Hotel in Aalst, followed by one night in the charming historic town of Lier, known as “Little Bruges,” and easy travel distance to the Brussels International Airport for our departure. Lier is between Antwerp and Brussels.
Included in this tour is all lodging, most ground transportation, brewery, festival and museum admissions, a canal boat tour, all breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, and the professional guide services of Podge and myself. The tour begins at the Brussels International Airport and ends at our hotel in Lier, Belgium.
$2195 land only, $425 single supplement.* Deadline to sign up, Feb. 6, 2012.
Alvinne Craft Beer Festival Tour of Belgium Itinerary
Feb. 28-Mar. 6, 2012
Tues., Feb. 28 • Bruges • This grand tour begins at the Brussels International airport (BRU) in the late morning, where we will board a train to romantic medieval city of Bruges, where we will stay for two nights. After we check into our hotel, we will take a scenic canal boat tour of Bruges. Afterwards, you’ll have some free time to explore before we meeting for an appetizing dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Bruges featuring cuisine a la biére and an amazing beer menu. (Dinner)
Wed., Feb. 29 • Bruges • Morning is free, and then we meet for a walking tour followed by lunch and a tour at the Halve Maan Brewery. This afternoon you have some more free time to take in the many sites of Bruges, rent a bike, take a carriage ride or just people watch, while savoring a Belgian beer in a sidewalk café. On your own for dinner. Later this evening we meet for a tour of some of the most interesting beer cafés in the city. (Breakfast & Lunch)
Thur., Mar 1 • Aalst • Today we visit the magnificent De Struise Brewers at their Old School location in East Vleteren for a beer class and tasting. De Struise is the brewer of such notable beers as Pannepot and Black Albert.
Afterwards, we have lunch at t’ Rusteel Café featuring fine Flemish atmosphere and an even finer beer menu. Below is an excerpt from their website:
“Life is full of haste, full of appointments and commitments. But there is a place where it all just falls away. Restaurant 't Rusteel, Heule at Brook Valley in Gullegem, given ‘time’ as another dimension. The art of life is enjoying the moment. Whether with friends, colleagues or family, our goal is to let you enjoy. We provide a nice cool beer, a tasty bite, in an atmosphere where time is just not an issue ...”
This evening we transfer via our coach to the city of Aalst, our home for the next tour nights. (Breakfast)
Fri., Mar. 2 • Aalst • Today is a big day with three great brewery visits: Dupont, Dubuisson, Ellezelloise. First we visit the farmhouse brewery of Dupont, home of the Saison Dupont and their other fine beers. Next is Brasserie Dubuisson, home of Scaldis (Busch outside of the U.S.). Then, it’s off to another farmhouse brewery, Ellezelloise. (Breakfast & lunch)
Sat., Mar. 3 • Aalst • Cantillion, ACBF. This morning we head into Brussels to visit the open brewing day at Cantillon. Here we will see first-hand how their ancient Lambics and gueuzes are produced. (Breakfast)
Afterwards, we transfer to the namesake of our tour, the invitational Alvinne Craft Beer Festival (ACBF), where you will partake in some of the finest, most interesting beers in the world. Be prepared to be amazed! (Breakfast)
Sun., Mar. 4 • Aalst • This afternoon we visit the Haacht Brewery tap, followed by lunch and a tasting at Het Anker Café (Think Goudon Carolus) in Mechelen. Next, we visit the quaint and famous Insurance Against the Great Thirst Lambic Café, which is opening just for us. The café is world famous for lambic and gueuze.
If that were not enough for one day, we next visit the superb LambikODroom Café at Drei Fonteinen for dinner. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner)
Mon., Mar. 5 • Lier • Today we visit the illustrious Rodenbach Brewery noted for their Flemish red ales and the coveted Trappist Westvelteren taproom of In de Verde, for some of the rarest and sough after beers in the world.
Afterwards, we transfer to the charming and historic town of Lier, also known as little Bruges, where we will spend our final evening and have our farewell dinner. This undiscovered gem is filled with atmospheric cafes, historic town squares, cathedrals and splendid restaurants. It is the perfect medium sized town to wind down our tour. (Breakfast & dinner)
Tues., Mar. 6 • Breakfast concludes this ambitious, action-packed and astonishing tour of the ACBF and some of the best breweries in Belgium. Lier is located just outside Antwerp, and puts us in easy travel distance by train to the Brussels International Airport for our departures the next day. (Breakfast)
* Itinerary subject to change.
* Prices based on double occupancy, per person, U.S. dollars, land only. Single room supplements apply (SS). We can also work with you to pair you with other single travelers 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 guests for each tour to be guaranteed to go, so it’s important to sign up ASAP, as opposed to waiting until the deadline. Also, tours can fill rapidly and suddenly, so signing up early ensures that you will go and not be disappointed. Please spread the word about BBM! tours to fellow Belgian beer enthusiasts, your friends in general, and encourage them to join the fun!