Many experts DO consider Belgium to be the Top European Beer Tourism Destination, especially when grouped together with their Benelux neighbors, Netherlands and Luxemburg. Beer is to Belgium, as wine is to France. They possess a beer culture that some might call beer snobbery, but in reality, it’s about precision. That same attention to detail you find in beautiful Venetian glass or fine German automobiles, it’s a delicate combination of artistry and discipline. Over 1000 types of beers are brewed in Belgium, most with their own specially designed glass. Their beer offered diligently, produced from over 200 active breweries including 6 monastic Trappist breweries.
Play Harder Tours has Belgium as their #3 European Beer Tourism Destination as well as #3 worldwide destination list (Bruges), ranking behind Prague and Munich. For all intents and purposes, it’s a tossup between the three destinations. As a beer-centric traveler, the three are all worthwhile destinations and shouldn’t be missed. In our opinion, with the active breweries scattered throughout Belgium, many in rural areas and with our aversion to rental cars a Beer Tourism guide is strongly suggested. We have partnered with Regnier’s Beer Tours to provide Play Harder Tours patrons with the best possible beer tourism experience at a reasonable price.
Regnier’s Beer Tours founded by Regnier De Muynck and based in Bruges Belgium offers VIP access to the many of the world-class breweries in the Benelux region. Regnier’s Beer Tours can easily be included in the Play Harder Tours travel packages, which always include airfare and hotel accommodations for maximum savings. Together you’ll visit the best breweries, mingle with locals while exploring the art, and architecture while dining on the delicious food from the region.
Chimay Brewery at the Scourmont Abbey: Chimay is an authentic Trappist ale.
That means that it is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery under the supervision and responsibility of the monastic community, which is involved in the entire process of making and selling the ale. The bulk of the revenue that this activity generates is used to finance social services and cover the community’s needs.
Vander Ghinste Brewery: Brewery Omer Vander Ghinste is a family brewery that brews quality beers according to authentic recipes, in the traditional way but with the application of the most modern techniques. Brewery visits are possible Monday through Saturday at 10 AM or 2 PM.
Brewery tours last about 2 1/2 hours and include:
- Welcome by the guide
- Tour around the brewery with a visit to the brewery tower
- Tasting of our beers
- Gift bag for every visitor
Westmalle Trappist Brewery: Within the walls of Westmalle Trappist abbey, three types of beer are brewed, Westmalle Tripel, Westmalle Dubbel, Westmalle Extra. Westmalle Tripel and Dubbel are sold by stores and served in cafés and restaurants in Belgium and the Netherlands. You will also find them in selected outlets around the world. Westmalle Extra is only brewed twice a year and is produced for the monks’ own use. The monks and their guests consume it with their midday meal.
Abbaye d’Orval: Orval Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 in the Gaume region of Belgium and is located in Villers-Devant-Orval, part of Florenville in the province of Luxembourg. The abbey is well known for its history and spiritual life but also for its local production of the Trappist beer Orval and a specific cheese.
Located within the confines of the Abbey, the Orval Brewery was created in 1931 to finance the enormous reconstruction works of Orval. It has hired lay workers from the outset, including the original master brewer, Martin Pappenheimer, who invented the recipe.
The brewer’s commercial policy is adapted to the values of the monastic community. Income from Royalties generated from the brand name goes to social welfare works and the maintenance of the buildings.
Sint Sixtus Abbey of Westvleteren: Trappist Westvleteren Brewed with natural raw materials. The name ‘Trappist beer’ is legally protected and may only be used for beer brewed by Trappist monks in their monastery. Of all Belgian beers, only six can carry the name Trappist: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. Only these six beers are brewed within the walls of a Trappist Abbey.
Cantillon Brewery: Self-guided tours are available without an appointment from Monday to Saturday (except on Wednesday) between 10 am and 4 pm. A Cantillon team member provides the visitor an introduction to the visit with a walk-through of the brewery. A tasting of two different beers is offered after the tour.
Cantillon is a family brewery where Lambic, Gueuze, Faro, and Kriek are made and where nothing has changed since 1900 when it was founded. Red copper containers, barrels, some of them more than 100 years old, and walls of bottles constitute the scenery for your visit.
BeerTourism.com offers a comprehensive guide of the Belgium beer culture with everything you need to know including detailed brewery guides, food recommendations, and city guides. We suggest this website as the perfect accompaniment for those wanting to do their own trip planning and for those planning to “freestyle” their way across Belgium. As always, Play Harder Tours is here to offer help, make suggestions, and troubleshoot your vacation planning!
Please let us know if Belgium makes your list as a “Top European Beer Tourism Destination”. Safe Travels!
The Beer-Centric Traveler writes for Play Harder Tours… Please email Bill@playhardertours.com and start your travel planning today! For a complete list of recommendations please email with “Belgium Beer Tourism” on the subject line. I’d love to hear your suggestions too.