July 26th to August 4th, 2017

$2850

Difficulty: Medium

Nectarine labmic, anyone? At the De Cam Blendery.
Nectarine labmic, anyone? At the De Cam Blendery.

Highlights

Our popular food and beer tour, focusing on more off the beaten track locations around Belgium.

Foodies unite: In addition to visiting around 8 breweries, 2 Trappist monasteries, and touring a farm, we will dine our hearts out with amazing beer-cooked and beer-paired meals along the tour.

  • All skill levels welcome. Ride between 20 and 40 miles each day, 90% flat, with two nights and a full rest day in Leuven.
  • Perfect balance of historic cities, small villages, traditional family-owned breweries, inventive new beer makers, two Trappist Monasteries, and a tour of an organic farm!
  • This tour features three dinners included in your trip fees! These are special dinners we have pre-reserved that are guaranteed to be special experiences. In addition, you also have special cheese / beer and a chocolate / beer workshops included!
  • On this tour we will visit at least 8 breweries, and receive a private tour at many of them. No two breweries or tours are alike! Beer tastings are typically generous and are included in your trip fees!
  • 9-nights hotel, bike / bag rentals, breakfast, lunch, snacks, brewery tours + beer samples all included. Vehicle support included for groups at least 8. Everyone pays for their own dinner each evening.
  • Make new friends and visit a different brewery every day, as you explore a country at the perfect speed to soak in your surroundings.

Breweries

From Spéciale Belge to Oak Aged Quads, Organic Browns and Farmhouse Sours, this tour has something for everyone’s palette.

Typical breweries we visit on most tour include:

  • De Koninck – The city brewery of Antwerp, where we start our tours. We’ll have an interactive tour + sampling session in their grand tasting room.
  • Westmalle Trappist – The brewery responsible for the commercialization of the beer style “Tripel”. We’ll have lunch at their wonderful cafe.
  • Achel Trappist – The smallest of the Trappist beer producers has a great cycling-friendly cafe inside the monastery walls. We’ll relax here with lunch and try some of their Trappist Ice Cream.
  • Brouwerij Jessenhofke – We’ll visit both this organic brewery, and the organic farm they source some of their grains from. In addition to a brewery tour the brewery family will cook us dinner which we will get to enjoy at the brewery!
  • Hof ten Dormaal – A true “Farmhouse” brewery experience. We’ll get to visit the brewing family at their home / brewery, have lunch, and try about a dozen of their different beer styles.
  • Duvel – The largest beer producer on this tour. See their enormous bottling line in action. Duvel will also host the cheese and beer pairing workshop for us!
  • Malheur – All tours end at this wonderful family-run brewery, in which we will have a generous tasting session and informative tour.
Enjoying a "Beer Picnic" on the banks of the Schele, outside Antwerp
Enjoying a "Beer Picnic" on the banks of the Schele, outside Antwerp
  • Other breweries change based upon availability and time of year. Places we have visited on previous tours include:  Brouwerij Het Nest, Corsendonk Abbey, Brouwerij Het Anker, Brouwerij den Triest, De Cam Geuzestekerij, Brouwerij De Ryck, and Bosteels.
Great bike trail that used to be a train rail.
Great bike trail that used to be a train rail.

Total Mileage: ~238 miles / 383 km

Itinerary / Stats

Locations and distances vary from tour to tour, but generally fall between these guidelines:

  • Day 1 – Meeting today in Antwerp, one of our favorite cities in Flanders. Hotel check-in, bicycle setup. We’ll be taking a short bike ride to a special “mystery stop”, the city brewery, and later tonight your first included beer dinner at one of the best beer-themed restaurant in town.
  • Days 2 to 3 – This will be the “Trappist” section of the tour as we cycle to Westmalle and Achel. Prepare for some amazing bike trails, along canals, farm roads, and quiet fields.
  • Day 4 – Onwards towards Hasselt and our farm / organic brewery visit. Your second included dinner is tonight at the brewery. We’ll be sleeping in Hasselt, which is the Jenever (Gin) capital of Belgium.
  • Days 5 to 6 – We’ll be in Leuven for two nights, which will be the location of our amazing beer and chocolate pairing workshop. This is always a highlight of the tour!
  • Days 7 to 9 -The cycling days get shorter from here, but just as pretty. We’ll be staying in Mechelen (at the Brewery Het Anker’s B&B), Aalst (historic town with great beer bars), and Ninove, which is nearby the famous “Heeren van de Liedekerke” beer restaurant. This will be our final included beer dinner as is sure to be a memorable experience. 6 course and 12 beers over 4 hours! Indulge one last time with your new Beercycling best friends.
  • Day 10 – All tours officially end at Brouwerij Malheur in Buggenhout around 1:30 PM. There is a train station is a few blocks away where we can say our goodbyes and continue on towards other European adventures.

Markers show start/end + overnight hotel and B&B locations…

Photos from this tour

Tour FAQ's

What is included in trip cost?

  • 9 nights hotel and B&B accommodation. Typically 3 stars, and when possible nearby the brewery we visit each day. All rooms include a private bathroom. One B&B is located on site of the Het Anker brewery!
  • Daily breakfast, daily lunches, and lots of snacks for each day. Lunch is not included in our rest day in Leuven.
  • All tours are lead by either Evan or Henk, Beercycling’s veteran guides. A 2nd guide is available typically only for groups of eight or more.
  • Daily route planning, including daily itineraries of our agenda and options for where to eat / what to do in each town / maps / etc.
  • A multi-speed touring compatible bicycle, helmet, and lock. (More about the bikes in the section below)
  • Vehicle support for groups of 8 or more. For smaller groups you will receive two rear panniers to carry personal belongings.
  • Entrance fees to all brewery visits, including lots of free beer tastings!
  • Included luggage storage at our bike shop to hold extra belongings you do not wish to carry on the bikes. All luggage will be returned to you on the last day of the tour.
  • A welcome package which includes a T-Shirt plus other goodies.
  • Email / phone contact with your guides prior to the trip. You get to ask as many questions as you like directly to the people taking you on the tour.

What is not included?

  • Airfare to and from the trip.
  • Transportation to the trip meet-up location. (Although we do offer an airport pickup service)
  • Lodging before and after the trip.
  • Gratuities for Beercycling tour guides.
  • Personal items purchased during the trip.
  • Alcoholic Beverages. (Although lots of beer is included at each brewery)
  • Dinner is not included which allows you the opportunity to explore regional cuisine on your own, or with the group as you see fit. There will be options for both. Your guides are happy to give you recommendations.

Let's talk weather

Our #1 question… what is it “typically” like each summer?

Unfortunately, the weather and weather forecasts in Belgium are unpredictable. In the summer it can be pleasant, it can be wet, it can be very hot. In the Spring and Fall it can get very cold. So riders need to plan for any situation. The number one thing that will ensure you have a comfortable tour is a good rain jacket that you have tested is fully waterproof. We will be riding each day rain or shine.

Wind is normal in Belgium. So even though the routes are flat we can occasionally get a strong headwind which will make the cycling more challenging.

Tell me more about the bikes

On our Flanders tours we use Belgium-made “Achielle” hybrid bikes. They are 8 gears, disk brakes, and include a wider cushioned saddle. The bikes do not have clip in pedals. No special footwear is required for these bikes. However, if you prefer to bring your own pedals this would be fine.

What about the bike paths / difficulty of riding?

The landscape is Flanders is extremely flat which allows for easy pedaling. 90% flat, with some hills starting as we cycle into Leuven. Belgium has an extensive bicycle route system. A good majority of it is traffic-free and will take us through farms, small villages, and alongside streams. The road conditions will be mostly pavement but also include light (about 5-10% dirt paths). On a few occasions (most notably in Antwerp) we will need to navigate through busy traffic, but our guides have all the routes planned out ahead of time in order to ensure everyone’s safety and make the ride pleasurable.

The daily riding mileage averages out to be 30 miles (48 km) per day, longest day is 40 miles. Expect about 4-5 hours a day on the bikes. (not including stops). Our pace along the rides greatly depends on the condition of our group but in general we will be traveling at a leisurely pace. For tours with two guides we can always split into two groups if necessary during the tour. Expect some stops for taking photos and breaks every 45-60 minutes.

I’m not a strong cyclist. What do I need to do to prepare for the ride?

Our longest day on the bikes will be about 40 miles (66 km). In order to properly train for this trip, you should be able to ride your bike at least this distance. While we strongly encourage everyone to train beyond this point if possible, at a minimum please complete a 41-mile / 66-km ride. And it’s also a good idea to practice being on your bicycle multiple days in a row to build your “saddle strength”. Also, keep in mind that we cannot control the elements. A possible windy, wet day will be much harder on the bicycles, so please take that into account with your training plan.

What are the maximum / minimum number of riders on this trip?

In order to keep the trip organized and give every rider individual attention, most trips will be limited to 14-16 people (including guides). The minimum for most tours is 5. We will notify you when the minimum has been met for your tour.

What if we don't have enough people to include vehicle support?

We will email the group once we confirm departure, and then again when we have enough to confirm the support vehicle. If we are not able to provide a support vehicle you will have the option to join us on a self-supported tour, or a full refund. We try to make these decisions at least 2 months prior to the start of a tour.

How do I reserve my spot?

Simply follow the link below to our registration page. You’ll need to fill in all of your information, including your 500 USD deposit per person now. We will send you a link to pay the remaining balance, which we must receive no later than 4 weeks before the start of the tour.

What if I change my mind or change my travel plans. Can I get a refund?

We can issue a partial refund if necessary as follows:

  • 90 days or more before departure date = 100% refund minus bank / credit card feeds.
  • 60 to 89 days before departure date = You will incur a 50 USD cancellation fee plus bank / credit card feeds.
  • 45 to 59 days before departure date = Will will incur a 100 USD cancellation fee minus bank / credit card feeds.
  • Shorter than 45 days notice = We cannot issue a refund after this time due to lodging, bicycle, and tour reservations already being placed..

If I select a “shared room”, who will I be sharing with?

If you are traveling with another person, we will place you together in a room. (there are 2 people and 2 beds per room). If you are traveling by yourself (or with an odd number of people) then we will do our best to match you up with another rider on our tour of the same gender.

If you are in a room by yourself you will need to pay a single supplement fee of $575 USD.

We cannot currently offer a triple room discount as not all hotels offer triples.

What ages are allowed to attend?

21 and over.

What about drinking and driving? Isn’t it illegal to ride a bicycle intoxicated?

Yes, it is illegal to ride a bike intoxicated. And because Belgian beer can include a lot more alcohol then an average beer, the follow items are put in place for this tour:

  • When possible, our beer / brewery / biercafe visits will be at the end of the day.

  • There are several days where the brewery visit is mid-day. Riders will be expected to use moderation when drinking beers during the daily rides. There will be several occasions where we will stop for lunch and have a beer, however, this does not mean we will accept or tolerate over-drinking when additional riding is necessary.

  • On most occasions our riders tend to share beers with each other. This helps everyone a sample a larger variety of beers, limit their intake, and also save money. We encourage this method when possible.

  • All riders are required to sign a waiver at the beginning of the tour removing us from liability if over drinking cases any damage of any kind. This is non-negotiable.

  • Due to each rider’s size / weight / body type, we cannot easily put a hard limit on the amount of drinks one consumes before becoming intoxicated. Since we’re all adults everyone will need to make these decisions on their own. (Although our guides won’t hesitate to let you know if we think you’ve had too much)

Can I bring my own bike?

Yes, you are more than welcome to bring your own bike (and get a discount) with the following conditions:

  • In must be in good enough condition to support you and your equipment for the length of the tour.

  • If the tour is self supported it must have a rear-rack that can hold panniers, which you we can loan you for a small fee, or you can bring your own for an additional discount.

  • You also bring your own lock.

  • You bring your own spare tubes.

  • We have plenty of extra helmets if you need to borrow one.

  • Beercycling will not be liable for damages made to your personal bike on the trip, although we will help when possible with mechanical issues or questions.

  • Meeting the above conditions also means you qualify for the lower rate on our registration page.

What languages do they speak in Belgium?

There are three official languages spoken in Belgium! The northern half (Flanders) speaks Flemish, which is very similar to Dutch (the national language of The Netherlands which is directly north of Belgium). In Brussels and southern Belgium French is the most common (where our Ardennes Challenge tour takes place). In the very far East of Belgium (near Luxembourg) German is more commonly spoken. English is also widely used and recognized throughout the country, but more so in the north than in the south.

What are the average prices for beer / food / etc in Belgium?

  • Bottle of beer = 3 to 4 Euros at a cafe (rare and speciality beers will be more)

  • Dinner = Expect about 15 to 30 Euros for a good-sized quality meal.

  • Tipping is not obligatory as this is service is included in VAT (Value Added Tax) at all restaurants. That said, a small tip 5% or leaving behind extra change is appreciated.

What kind of food will be served?

  • Breakfasts – will mostly consist of a typical “continental style” which will vary, but you can expect: Bread / Jams, Cereal, Milk, Juice, Coffee, Fruit, Pastries, etc. Every hotel we use on our tours provides breakfast, so it is convenient to eat whenever you wish in the morning before our departure time.

  • Snacks – Along the ride the guides will carry snacks that can be shared by the entire group. These will include candy, energy bars, fruit, extra water, etc. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own snacks or buy them along the way as well.

  • Lunches – Will consist of either picnic lunches, or dining at bicycle-friendly cafes. For the picnic lunches we will have spreads of meat, cheeses, breads, fruit, chips, among others. There will always be a vegetarian option each day. Again, if you prefer to buy or carry your own lunch every day you are more than welcome to. If you have any special dietary restrictions please make a note of this on your registration form. We will do our best to accommodate your requests.

  • Dinner – Everyone is on their own for dinner each night. Some nights we will go as a group to a beer cafe / restaurant, but this is optional. Typical Belgian cuisine is delicious and can include anything from pasta, sandwiches, salads, steaks, seafood, soups, and our favorites: Mussels and Fries.

What do I need to pack for the tour?

We recommend packing light. (More room to take beer home!) For self supported tours, the bags on the bikes are fairly large and should accommodate all necessary clothing for a 10 day tour. If you run out of room in your bags we can either help you mount another bag on the top of your rear rack, or place some equipment on one of the guides bikes if available. Please keep in mind that you will have use of a storage facility at the bike shop on Day #1 you can use and reclaim your items once the tour is over. Laundry facilities will also be available in the big cities, so you can also pack about 4 or 5 days worth of clothing and do laundry half way. A typical packlist for this trip is as follows:

  • Lightweight shirts = 3 or 4

  • Underwear = 3 or 4 pairs

  • Socks = 3 or 4 pairs

  • Pants = 1 pair

  • Shorts = 1 pair (Padded cycling shorts are recommended if you haven’t spent much time on a bike seat)

  • Waterproof lightweight rain shell

  • Lightweight jacket

  • 1 pair of shoes for on the bike (cycling shoes or running/gym shoes is fine)

  • 1 pair of shoes for off the bike (hiking sandals or flip flops, or just skip this and use your on-bike shoes)

  • Sunglasses

  • Gloves (for cycling, should be lightweight)

  • Water bottles are included with bicycle rental (or you can bring a camelbak which can double for extra storage)

  • Camera + batteries + charger

  • Personal documents (passport, credit cards)

  • Hygiene products / Sunscreen / Chapstick

  • Bungee cord (to strap extra items to your bike rack)

  • A couple zip lock bags (helps on rainy days to extra waterproof your phone or other items)

  • We do not recommend carrying a laptop computer due to space constraints. Several hotels will have computers you can use, or if you have a smartphone you can connect it to WiFi in order to get internet access. Some past riders have brought small netbooks which squeeze in nicely with luggage.

What kind of ID / documentation / visas / vaccinations will I need?

Depending on the country you are traveling from, please consult your embassy for visa information prior to arrival. In general, one does not need a special visa to enter/exit Belgium. Please remember to bring a passport to show identification when necessary along the trip. Sometimes hotels will ask for copies of your passport when we check in.

No special vaccinations are necessary for travel to Belgium or the Netherlands.

Is Belgium / Europe safe to travel in?

There has been a lot of discussion about Belgium and Europe and terrorism on the news recently. As a result, there is heightened security at the airport and main train stations. Belgians remains resilient and optimistic for the future. Life goes on as normal, the beer flows, and they make bad jokes with their strange senses humor. The majority of our tours take place in very rural areas away from large crowds. It’s now a great time to visit as tourism is important to their economy. If you have any other specific questions about travel safety, please do not hesitate to ask us.

Do I need travel insurance?

It is not required, but it is recommended. This can be used for lost luggage, medical expenses, etc. Each person is on their own for this, we do not offer an insurance policy. Also check with your credit card company, sometimes they offer included travel insurance.

What if Beercycling needs to cancel the trip?

In the very unlikely event that we need to cancel a trip each person will be issued a 100% refund. We cannot, unfortunately, provide a refund for your other expenses like airfare. In all cases Beercycling has backup tour guides waiting should something happen to your primary guide.

Am I required to tip my guides?

Nope. But tipping is very much appreciated and helps ensure the ability of our guides to run more and more tours each year!

Any other questions?

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are happy to help answer even the silliest of questions!

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