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Beer Lovers

 

 

In Belgium, beer is more than just a frothy beverage - it is a culture. With over 450 different varieties, many Belgian beers have personalized beer glasses in which only that beer may be served. The shape of each glass enhances the flavor of the beer for which it is designed. This tradition may seem like behavior reserved for wine snobbery, but Belgians take their beer seriously - and with good reason. The country has enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for specialty beers since the Middle Ages. Connoisseurs favor Belgian beers for their variety, real flavor and character.

 

It is easy to see the depth to which beer has become one with Belgium's culture. What other country has a driving tour through the countryside called the Beer Route? After a day of castle hopping, visitors can stop by one of the local cafés to enjoy some chocolate with their beer, as their worries melt away. Whether you were visiting a brewery, sitting in a café or attending a festival, visitors will remember the first time they tasted their favorite brew.

 

Check out this great article in the December issue of Conde Nast Traveler Pale Rider : Belgian Beer Tour by Mike Di Paola.

 

Beer Tours

Beer itinerary

 

 

Beer Breakdown

There are almost as many beer styles as there are breweries in Belgium. With your choice of geuze, brown, lambic, white, chocolate, and cherry beer, you can't go wrong. Lambic beer, which Belgium is famous for, is made with an ancient style of brewing, relying on spontaneous fermentation to produce a bone-dry, profoundly tart, and naturally effervescent drink that improves with years in the bottle - much like wine.


 

Blanche or White Beers

Sometimes called a wheat beer - it is light, cloudy, and with a hint of citrus.

Lambic

A non-malted wheat beer naturally fermented by wild, airborne yeasts. A draft beer specific to the Brussels area.

Gueuze

A blend of two or more Lambic beers to create a secondary fermentation and a Champagne-like sparkle.

Faro

Lambic light, if you will. A sweetened variety with some of the flavor but less intensity of other Lambics.

Kriek

A Lambic beer in which further fermentation is brought about with the addition of cherries or raspberries - refreshing in summer!

Brown Beers

These beers interplay caramel-like malty sweetness and a sourness gained from several months of maturation.

Red Beers

Produced from red barley, these beers are aged in oak. Fruity, sweet & sour, very thirst-quenching!

Golden Beers

These beers are similar to Pilsner lagers using very pale malts and hops, while retaining ale yeasts.

 

Belgian Breweries

Brussels

Liege

Namur

Tournai

 

 

Brussels Breweries & Beer Museums

Brewers' House

Headquarters of the Belgian Brewers Association located in a magnificent baroque building.

kwak beer

 

Brasserie Cantillon

Brussels Gueuze Museum and Cantillon Brewery

Witness the traditional style of Belgian beer brewing and taste a traditional Gueuze-Lambic at Cantillon museum & brewery.

Brasserie Friart

Producer of St.-Feuillien beer. By appointment only (30 miles south of Brussels, in Roeulx).

La Binchoise Brewery & Museum

Experience the alchemy of beer manufacturing and the brewing process. Reservation mandatory (25 miles south of Brussels in Binche).

La Brasserie Lefevre

Producers of Abbey de Floreffe beers (25 miles south of Brussels in Quenast).

The Brewers of the Market

Enter the pub "Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place" (The Brewers of the Market) and enjoy of on the spot brewed beers. More… the hungry stomach will be pleased by excellent Belgian preparations.

 

 

Liege & Vicinity Breweries

Artisan and Didactic Brewery of Du Flo (Blehen)

A small artisan brewery that produces the "cuvée Saint-Antoine". The artisan brewery of Flo owes its name to the locality "au Flo". The brewery is situated in the ancient town hall. The brewery offers the visitors the chance to discover the art of brewing, from the crushing of malt to the bottling of the beer.

Artisan Brewery "Bruyers" (Jupille-Sur-Meuse)

This brewery, with an actual annual production of 75 hl/year, is probably one of the smallest official artisan breweries in Belgium. Since February 1996 it has been producing "La Botteresse": the Botteresse Ambrée (amber): 8,5% Vol, the Botteresse Brune (dark): 9,5% Vol, the Botteresse Miel (honey): 8,5% Vol, the Botteresse Blonde (pale). Guided tours: individually or in small groups, by appointment only.

Brasserie des Fagnes (Couvin)

This Belgian brewery and museum is located in Mariembourg, between Philippeville and Couvin. In this unique place you will find an 18th century brewery, a modern working brewery and a tasting area. Entrance into the museum is free.

Brewery "Grain D'Orge" (Hombourg)

The microbrewery "Grain d'Orge", with its nice and cozy bar, is situated at the heart of the charming little village of Hombourg. The traditional brewer will personally welcome you and will introduce you to his passion: visit of his production location and savoring of tasty beers.

Brewery of the Abbey of Val-Dieu (Aubel)

Monastic order: Cistercians (13th century). The abbey used to have a great tradition of beer brewing which revives again thanks to the take over by some laities. The brewery Val Dieu remains inside the walls of the monastery. The four products of the Val Dieu are: lager, brown ale, tripple and a "Christmas Special". Visits by appointment only.

Jupiler Brewery (Jupille-Sur-Meuse)

The Liège brewing tradition is today perpetuated in the Jupiler brewery. Established in 1853, it owes its know-how to the family Piedboeuf. The Jupiler brewery is part of the Inbev group. In order to ensure the perfect quality of your Jupiler beer, the Jupille brewery boasts some extremely sophisticated and ultramodern installations and equipment. The group exports to more than 80 countries throughout the world. Visits for groups only by appointment.

Bellevaux Brewery (Malmedy)

Bellevaux Brewery's original beers are brewed with the famous Ardennes spring water. You can enjoy a  Black, Brune, Blonde or Blanche beer in the cosy sampling room or on the nice terrace with view on the mash tuns.

 

 

Namur & Vicinity: Breweries & Beer Museums

Abbey Notre-Dame de Scourmont

Since 1862 the Cistercian Trappist monks of Chimay have been developing the production of Trappist beers and cheeses which are well known and enjoy great success. Located in the providence of Luxembourg, neither the abbey nor the bottling plant are open to the public but the gardens, cemetery and church of the abbey can be visited every day from 8:00am - 8:00pm.

Monk in a Brewery

Brasserie Du Bocq

At the gates of the French speaking Ardennes, in a marvelous small village in the valley of the Bocq, the tradition of a brewery founded in 1858 by the Belot family. Guided tours are organized by professional guides and followed by a taste of the products of Brasserie du Bocq: La Gauloise, Blanche de Namur, St Benoit, Triple Moine, Saison Regal, Deugniet and Regal Christmas.

Sif the Beer Drinking Viking

Gambrinus Drivers Museum

Unique museum dedicated to brewery trucks. The name Gambrinus owes its origin to the Duke of Brabant, Jan Primus, who was known as The King of Beer…King of the Road for trucks and king of beer! This museum is in a former maltings-brewery-farm from the 19th century and it houses 20 vehicles and 75 themed displays.

King of Beer Gambrinus

Maredsous Abbey (Denee)

It is one of the most beautiful in Belgium. Founded in 1872 by the Benedictine order in a Neo-Gothic style, the abbey is architecturally unique. It's possible to have a guided visit of the abbey and of the pottery workshops. Guided visits for individuals in English . Three visits a day during July and August.

Museum of Belgian Beers (Lustin)

This museum boasts more than 15,700 bottles and glasses of Belgian beer as well as beer-mats, flags, umbrellas, ashtrays, posters and old advertisements for Belgian beers.

Belgian Beer

Brasserie La Caracole (Dinant)

Truly artisanal Brasserie La Caracole is located in a small village Falmignoul, Province of Namur, Wallonia in southern Belgium. Their portfolio consists of four stock ales: Caracole 8% abv, Nostradamus 9.5% abv, Saxo 8% abv, Troublette 5% abv. The recurring theme on each label is that of spiral snail shell from which the brewery takes its name. Apparently the snail is the emblem of Namur and the word for a snail in local Namurois dialect is "Caracole". This brewery is also the smallest one in Belgium.

 

 

Tournai & Vicinity: Breweries

Brasserie Brunehaut: (Brunehaut)

The Brunehaut brewery was founded in 1890 outside the Belgian city of Tournai.  This artisanal brewer uses 1000+ year old recipes dated back to the First Crusade.   Brasserie de Brunehaut offers four Abbaye de Saint-Martin labels  (Abbey style beer), three Brunehaut of Organic (Bio) beers, and several ales unique to Flanders/Wallonia.  E-mail the Brunehaut brewery, to schedule your visit and find that the proof of this award-winning beer is in the bottle.

Brasserie Dupont (Leuze-en-Hainaut)

The Dupont brewery is co-writer of a real part of the Belgian beer history. Situated in Tourpes (Leuze-en-Hainaut), in the centre of West-Hainaut, and incorporated in an old farm, originally dating from 1759, the brewing has been going on since 1844. The original beer was a “Saison Beer”, meaning that this beer was brewed in the winter, to be drunk in the following summer by the workers (seasonworkers) on the fields. Ever since 1950, the brewery Dupont has been specialised in the production of top fermentation beers with refermentation in the bottle.

Brasserie Dupont

 

 

 

Beer Festivals  & Events

To commemorate the country's beer tradition, Belgian cities and towns across the country hold festivals. These beer-filled events provide locals and visitors with the opportunity to gather and share a pint of their favorite brew while trading stories. Each spring, the Belgian Beer Festival in Lustin, a town in French speaking Belgium, offers over 650 different types of beers with an exchange fair and flea market with beer glasses, bottles, old ads, and other collector's items available for purchase. The capital city of Brussels has its own festival each September. Small, medium and large breweries present their best selection on the Grand Place. Entrance is free and the atmosphere is always upbeat.


Special Beer Festival

For three days, more than 130 different beers, many of which originating from traditional production and some " exotic " beers, are presented. Along the years this event has grown considerably and it attracts more visitors every year (1200 to 1500). On Saturday there will be a exchange fair.

Belgian Beer Festival

Beer glasses, bottles, labels, coasters, old ads, clocks, mirrors, pints, jugs and other collector's items. You can try or buy more than 850 kinds of Belgian beers. Meals cooked with beer.

Beer Festival of Mons

Every year the Party Service and tradesmen of the Grand'Place organize a weekend dedicated to beer. Numerous stalls allow visitors to taste traditional beers and the big brands that made Belgium famous as the World Center of Beer.

Belgian Beer Festival / Beer Collectors' and Exchange Market

This beer event takes place May 2009 in the town of Lustin. Beer glasses, bottles, labels, coasters, old ads, clocks, mirrors, pints, jugs and other collector's items. You can try or buy more than 850 kinds of beer. Meals cooked with beer.

Meeting of the Breweries in Belgian Luxembourg

The breweries of the province of Luxemburg gather in one place for beer tastings, explanation of different brewing methods, music, raffle for a basket with regional products, and street animations.

The Festival of 100 Beers

In August 2010 the traditional festival of 100 beers will take place. Friday, a beer game (la quête). Saturday, 8h cycling race (all types of bikes are allowed: folkloric, MTB, city bikes, racing bikes, ... Everything on a closed and secured trail). Sunday, flea market, craftsmanship, tasting of the 100 beers and barbecue.

Arch'en Biers

This festival aims to make people discover lesser-known beers in Walloon Brabant. Every year, the organizers endeavor to present new products to visitors. Numerous samplings throughout the weekend. August,

Brussels Beer Weekend

The Brussels' Grand Place hosts a multitude of stands offering the opportunity to discover some of our best Belgian beers. Many small, medium-sized and large Belgian breweries will present to you their best selections of beers. Entrance is free and beer prices are very reasonable! Many other events such as jazz bands, brass bands, activities for children will entertain you while tasting one or two beer. (September 2-4, 2011)

Bruxellensis Festival

The Bruxellensis festival in Saint-Gilles presents authentic beers and various Belgian breweries which buck the predominant trend and do not brew beers that are far too sweet and fruity. Make way for diversity of flavor and authenticity! (September 2010)

Hops Festival in Val de Sambre

Great hops festivity with amazing entertainments throughout the weekend including music, guided tours of the brewery, hot-air balloon rides, and craft exhibitions. (September 9-11, 2011)

Brassigaume - The International Festival of Small Breweries

In Rulles you can visit different stands and meet 22 Master-Brewers and taste their products consisting of more than 80 different beers. On the agenda: music, reading with beer historian Mr. Philippe Voluer, and local cuisine made from Belgian beer.

Beer Festival

Taste new Belgian beers during this festival in Tournai. (March 19-20, 2011).

 

 

 

Legendary Monastic and Abbey Beer

Trappist Beers

Among the dozen or so surviving abbey breweries in Europe, Belgium is also home to six of the seven surviving Trappist breweries - Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achel. All were established in their present form by Trappist monks who left France after the turbulence of the Napoleonic period.  Rich dark ales produced solely by monks according to centuries-old methods in the six following monasteries. To learn more about Trappist beers, read Style of Trappist beers.

Abbey Beers

Strong ales in a similar vein to some of the famous Trappist brews, but not made in monasteries. Some have names indicating a business relationship between an abbey and a commercial brewery. Several of these monasteries did brew in the past.  There are several other religious institutions that license breweries, and other beers that are simply named after an abbey ruin or local saint. Some names to remember when sampling abbey beers are: Leffe, Grimbergen,  Duvel, Affligem, Karmeliet, Kwak, and Corsendonk.

 

Belgium map with abbey' s locations

Trappists

Trappistines

Cistercians

Chimay, Scourmont (1) Clairefontaine, Bouillon (6) Aubel, Val-Dieu (12)
Orval, Villers-devant-Orval (2) De La Paix, Chimay (7) Sint Benediktus, Bornem (13)

Rochefort, St. Remy (3)

Soleilmont, Fleurus (8) Cisterciennes (Nuns)
Westvleteren
Sint-Sixtus, (4)
Nazareth, Brecht (9)
Westmalle, Malle (5) Klaarland, Bocholt (10)
Achel, Hamont-Achel Brialmont, Tilff (11)