Beer tours in Belgium

If you enjoy a drop of the amber nectar, one of the many great beer tours in Belgium will be right up your street. Brewing in Belgium dates back as far as the 12th century, and was often carried out by monks, who favoured dark and sweet flavours. Their methodology soon became a local staple that is still used today, and when you take a wander through any of the country’s city centres you’ll find a whole host of fantastic bars and breweries within a stone’s throw of each other. Visit Brussels during late autumn or early winter for a guided tour of the world-famous Cantillon Brewery, where the dedicated producers work around you. In Bruges and Flanders, you’ll find the nation’s signature heady ales and brews that the monks would have been proud of – in fact, six of the world’s 12 Trappist breweries are in Belgium. Head towards Ypres to get right to the source of the nation’s favourite drink – the nearby Hopmuseum Poperinge gives a unique insight into the history of Belgian beer, as well as more than a few local samples to try.

Beer tours in Ypres, Belgium

Though Ypres is perhaps best known as home to the World War I battlefields, it’s also considered one of Belgium’s most important beer capitals. The hop farms around the nearby town of Poperinge provide 80% of the whole country’s supply, which has given it the affectionate name ‘the hoppe stad’ (‘hop capital’ in Dutch), and it’s even said that you can almost taste beer in the air in late summer. As a result, Ypres boasts some real highlights for the beer tourist. The Hopmusuem, found in the aforementioned Poperinge, is the best place to learn all about Belgium’s brewing history. Grab your audio tour headphones and be guided through the museum’s four floors, where local characters and historical architects bring the time-honoured process to life. There’s also a fascinating display of documents, photographs and multimedia, as well as plenty of beers to sample after the tour.

Beer tours in Flanders, Belgium

The Flanders region is a beer lovers’ dreamland – so much so that it even has its own unique brew, the aptly named Flemish Red. The beer’s ruby hue is a result of a special type of malt used in the brewing process, and makes this tipple tart in taste, almost as if a hybrid of wine and beer. This makes it ideal for those new to beers in general, and subtle introduction to Belgium’s world of signature, sourer brews. Rodenbach brewery, found in the West Flanders’ town of Roeselare, is perhaps the area’s best-known (and longest running) producer of Flemish beer, and has used much of the same oak foeders (oversized, wooden barrels) as they did over 200 years ago. Take a guided two-hour tour of the brewery and you’ll see the special techniques that go into making this famous beer, as well as getting a chance to sample some for yourself of course.

Beer tours in Bruges, Belgium

Romantic Bruges has something to suit all tastes. On one hand, it’s a well-preserved, medieval city that has picture-perfect charm. And on the other, it’s one of the world’s most important beer hubs. Ale literally flows through the city – there’s a beer pipe which snakes its way under the city from De Halve Maan and into an out of town bottling plant – while its annual Beer Festival (which takes place every February) is another popular draw. It’s here that 80 breweries descend on the city each year to create one huge bar, with over 400 variations to choose from. Best of all, the event is free to attend. Throughout the year though, there are still plenty of things to do in Bruges to keep beer fans entertained, including the aptly-titled ‘beer wall’ – an outdoor display of local creations set into the wall of a 15th century house – as well as plenty of brewery tours (including at the aforementioned De Halve Maan) and walking tours.

Beer tours in Brussels, Belgium

With numerous bars, restaurants, and breweries to choose from, Brussels and beer are inextricably linked. New alternative breweries in Brussels are popping up all over the city, and with them comes innovative approaches to the brewing process. One such example is the Brussels Beer Project, which welcomes brewers from across the globe to create new and exciting combinations. Past inspiration has come from brewers in Chicago, Russia and Miami, though the output is still unmistakably Belgian. Traditionalists will be pleased to know that Brussels is still a place for time-honoured brewing, as the family-run Cantillon’s artisanal process has barely changed since the brewery was first established in 1900. Today it’s especially known for its expertise in lambic beers – one of the oldest and most primitive brewing methods, and this process is somewhat unique to Brussels, so be sure to check out the brewery’s onsite museum to find out more. Finally, the city’s Schaerbeek Beer Museum is also an excellent place to learn all about the city’s place in brewing history.