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Belgium for Beer Lovers

created by fodors-partner on 2017-03-16

Belgium for Beer Lovers

This itinerary stops in cities with a focus on tasty brews, from the brown cafés of Brussels to the specialty brews of Liege and Ghent, the bustling byways of Antwerp and side streets of Brugge.

Days 1-3: Brussels

The Grand'Place is over the top as far as central squares go; be sure to grab a table at one of the excellent cafés in the area, such as the art deco Falstaff, or at A la Mort Subite, a 1920s café and a Brussels institution.
Visit the home of the Belgian Brewers Association, the Brewers House, in an 18th-century mansion on Grand'Place, where you can see tools from the original Hoegaarden brewery as well as a high-tech video installation. A glass of beer is included in the price of admission.

The only Lambic brewery left in Brussels is the Museum van de Gueuze. Tours are available in English and allow visitors to see the process from start to finish; there's a tasting at the end, of course.

Day 4: Leuven

Leuven, like Oxford or Cambridge, is a place where underneath the hubbub of daily life you sense an age-old devotion to learning and scholarship. Here these lofty ideals are accompanied by a healthy devotion to beer.
Leuven is considered the beer capital of Belgium, and Stella Artois the premier institution of Belgian brewing. You can tour the mammoth building, with its sleek modern exterior and enormous vats, but be sure to schedule three weeks in advance.
The casual, authentically rustic Domus brewery is famous for its honey beer. Linger here amid craggy old beams, labyrinthine rooms, dusty bric-a-brac, and paisley table cloths.

Take a break from all that beer by stopping at the Stadhuis, Leuven's ornate medieval town hall.

Day 5: Antwerp

Antwerp is an odd duck. It's a port city that's also a fashion capital, very accessible to the average visitor yet full of intrigue thanks to the influential diamond industry that's also centered here. Beer aficionados will find plenty to interest them here and in the surrounding area.
De Koninck, Antwerp's last remaining brewery, is the city's pride and joy. Arrange visits by phone or Internet at least a month in advance; you'll get a general introduction, tour the brewery, and taste two beers.
The famous Bierhuis Kulminator pours 550 kinds of beer, including EKU-28, the strongest beer on earth.

The modest 'T Waagstuk, in a 16th-century warehouse near the river Schelde, has welcomed beer lovers since 1983. In addition to many specialty beers, there are seminars for beer devotees.

Day 6: Ghent

Though overshadowed by nearby Brugge, Ghent has plenty of pleasures on its own, including a similarly beautiful central area that's much less crowded than that of its big brother. The city is especially welcoming to lovers of art, both ancient and modern. It's a good base from which to explore the Liefmans and Roman breweries.
Make an appointment to visit Liefmans brewery, where several tasty beers are made, including the soft dark Oud Bruin. Make sure to see the magnificent Baudelot hall.
Stop at Roman, a brewery run by the same family (now in its 12th generation) since 1545.

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, van Eyck's masterpiece, is in St. Bavo's Cathedral. The 12-paneled work was completed in 1432 but looks shockingly modern.

Day 7: Brugge

Belgium's biggest draw outside of Brussels itself, the medieval town of Brugge is as beautiful as you've heard. Simply wandering the streets is enchanting, though there's also a wealth of art from the country's primitive era. Base yourself here before sampling beer at the nearby St. Sixtus Abbey.
The St. Sixtus abbey was founded in 1831 and is still in operation. Twenty-nine monks live here, devoting themselves to prayer, study, and manual labor. They produce three kinds of Trappist beer: Blonde, Eight, and Twelve. Call ahead to purchase beer, then enjoy it across the street at the De Vrede welcome center, where you'll learn about life in the abbey.
There's no shortage of Flemish Primitives in the Groeningemuseum. Works by Bosch, Brueghel the Elder and Younger, and van Eyck are found here, along with a strong collection of Dutch and Belgian works from the 15th to 21st centuries.
The Markt has been the center of action in Brugge since 958; the iconic belfry tower on the north side dates to the 13th century.
  • 1
    Grand Place

    104 votes

    Sight

    The Grand Place (French, pronounced [ɡʁɑ̃ plas]; also used in English) or Grote Markt (Dutch, pro...

  • 3
    A la Mort Subite

    5 votes

    Café

  • 4
    Musée de La Gueuze

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 5
    Stella Artois

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    Belgium's most famous brewery. The roots of this brewery go back to 1366, when brewery Den Horen (...

  • 6
    De Koninck Brewery

    0 votes

    Sight

    De Koninck Brewery (Brouwerij De Koninck) is a Belgian brewery based in Antwerp (Antwerpen in Dut...

  • 7
    Bierhuis Kulminator

    1 votes

    Bar

  • 8
    Saint Bavo Cathedral

    2 votes

    Sight

    Sections of the Cathedral of St. Bavo date back to Roman times. The church houses the most famous...

  • 9
    Groeningemuseum

    10 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    A small collection of paintings by the greats.

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