The Lonely Monks Trappist Beer Tour
Of Belgium & the Netherlands!
Ten days, nine nights | TWO DEPARTURES A YEAR
• May 20-29,2017
• NEW! Aug. 5-14, 2017
• October 7-16,2017
• May tba, 2018
• October tba,2018
Beer is one of the few indulgences monks are permitted, and thus one of the reasons they know how to brew special beers so incredibly well. On this very ambitious tour we will visit eight Trappist abbeys that brew beer (six in Belgium and two just across the border in the Netherlands) and sample their beers. While the theme of this tour will be Trappist ales, you will experience many other styles, too.
The designation of “Trappist” is a legal one and encompasses a range of styles rather than a single distinct one. The eight Trappist beers are Westmalle, Westvleteren, Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Achel, LaTrappe and Zundert. Other breweries we will visit include Halve Maan and De Struise Taproom/bottle shop in Bruges. You’ll experience the four corners of Belgium as we traverse the country to visit these abbeys, from the bucolic farmlands of West Flanders to the pristine Ardennes Mountains of Wallonia, to the beautiful countryside of the northern Limburg Province and the Netherlands. As with all our tours, fine cuisine, inviting hotels, camaraderie will be front-and-center, along with sightseeing, shopping and plenty of free time to unwind, explore and discover the beauty of Belgium.
Also, the abbey interiors are typically cloistered and off limits to visitors. Many of the Trappist breweries are also off limits to the public, but BBM! does have a few connections that may make visiting some places generally not accessible to the public available to us. Often we will not know until we arrive, or shortly before, just what will be possible, thus we cannot make promises. It depends on several variables, including the schedules of the brewers and monks, days they are open, and the general willingness of the abbey to make special exceptions to allow visitors. What we will do is experience the terrior and see at least the exteriors of the Trappist abbeys and breweries, and get to visit the official and unofficial brewery taps to sample the beers fresh from the brewery.
Plans call for overnights in Brussels, Bruges, Mont, Tilburg (Netherlands) and Mechelen. (see map below)
As an option for the October departure, combine this tour with The Best Damn Farmhouse Ale Tour of Belgium & France the week preceding this Trappist Tour and have a full two weeks in Beer Paradise! For the May departure combine the Ardennes Mountain Beer Tour and the Trappist Tour.
Plan now to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime tour!
Preview of coming attractions
- Nine nights accommodations in nice, friendly, centrally-located hotels often in the old town section of the city and some in bucolic rural settings.
- All breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners with gratuities.
- Beer during brewery tours, taproom visits, festivals and company meals as listed on the itinerary.
- Ground transportation via private luxury coach with professional driver. Leave the driving to us!
- Professional and courteous BBM! guide services.
- All tours and admissions.
- An instant group of interesting and fun, beer-loving friends you haven’t met yet.
- Guaranteed tour price the moment submit your deposit.
- Plenty of unstructured free time to relax, shop and explore on your own.
- Custom BBM! name badges.
- Souvenir BBM! luggage tags
- One souvenir BBM! soft-sided cooler per household.
- Flexibility in the event you need to transfer or cancel your tour.
- Airport transfers.
- Some meals and beer on your own.
- Free-time sightseeing. Our guides are available to provide suggestions.
- Fine Print: You are responsible for the costs of your free-time sightseeing. Be sure to read our Terms & Conditions Agreement for important details.
- Gratuities, at your discretion, for brewery tour guides and coach drivers.
Spring and Fall is the perfect time to visit Belgium. Combine this tour with the Ardennes Mountain Beer Tour and have a grand multi-week tour of beer paradise.
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Deadline to sign up is one month before departure.
$2895/per person + Air, $575 single supplement*
* Prices based on double room occupancy. If you are a solo traveler and would like to have a private room all to yourself there is a single supplement fee of $575 in addition to the base price of $2895 per person.We can also work with you to pair you with other single travelers to avoid the single supplement. Better yet, recruit a friend to come, too! Unless, of course, like Rick Steves says, you prefer to “snore alone.”
We require a minimum number of guests for each tour to be guaranteed to go, so it’s important to sign up ASAP, as opposed to waiting until the deadline. Also, tours can fill rapidly and suddenly, so signing up early ensures that you will go and not be disappointed.
Please share BBM! tours with fellow Belgian beer enthusiasts, your friends in general, and encourage them to join the fun!
map of overnight locations
Lonely Monks Trappist Tour Itinerary
This tour begins in the lobby of our hotel in Brussels and ends at our hotel in Mechelen. We plan to visit at least 10 brewery locations, and or taprooms, featuring prominently the eight Trappist ones: Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Achel, LaTrappe, Zundert, Westmalle and Westvleteren. We will also visit Cantillon, Achouffe, Het Anker and Halve Maan. Other highlights will include, Brussels and Bruges.
Included are all brewery visits, museum visits, hotels, canal boat tour (photo above in Bruges), ground transportation, all breakfasts, some snacks, three lunches and three dinners. Beer is included during group meals and brewery tours, but not informal pub crawls or café visits. The tour does not include airfare or airport transfers.
Day One • Brussels This incredible tour begins in the afternoon in Brussels as we meet at 2 p.m. in the lobby of our centrally-located hotel in Brussels. We’ll do a tour of the nearby Cantillon Brewery, then meet for our welcome dinner at one of my favorite restaurants featuring Old-Brussels atmosphere, delectable cuisine a la biére and first-rate beer menu. (Dinner)
Day Two • Brussels Morning is free to explore or just sleep in. At 9:30 a.m., there is an optional walk (about 10 minutes) to a famous local flea market in the Marollais district and visit a famous, if not scruffy, lambic cafe called Brocante. The fun thing about Belgian flea markets is you see everything and much of it is hundreds of year old. This afternoon at 2 p.m. we will meet in the lobby and have a walking tour of the city, followed by more free time. We’ll visit the world-famous Grand Place, which Beer Author Tim Webb of Good Beer Guide Belgium so deftly describes its wow factor as, “...unquestionably one of the world’s finest places for making you feel as though it’s all been worth it.” He astutely paints a vivid picture of Brussels as, “…every city on earth, unedited and confused, all rolled into one. The whole of modern life is to be found here somewhere, usually unshaven.” Lunch and dinner is on your own. Later in the evening at 8 p.m., we will meet in the lobby to informally tour some of the preeminent beer cafés in Brussels. (Breakfast)
Day Three • Bruges After breakfast we check out, and travel to Iepers to tour the very-moving Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and Tyne Cot Cemetery. From there, we head to the home of the coveted and revered Trappist Westvleteren beer (near the village of Westvleteren) the abbey of St. Sixtus and its brewery tap, “In de Vrede” (In the Peace), for lunch and to indulge in their famous, exquisite and rare beers. The abbey and brewery are not open to the general public, however, we will be able to see the exterior and if we are lucky buy some beer to go in their gift shop. At 2 p.m., we continue on to Bruges (about 1 hour drive). There, we will spend two nights at the our centrally located hotel. You’ll have the afternoon to explore the cobblestoned streets of Bruges. You are on your own for dinner. Later this evening we meet for an informal tour of some of the most interesting beer cafés in the city. (Breakfast)
Day Four • Bruges Morning is free, and then we meet at 10:30 in the lobby for a short walking tour followed by a tour and lunch at 11 a.m. at the Halve Maan Brewery & Museum. They are the brewers of Zot and Straffe Hendrik. After lunch, we will take canal boat ride and learn more about the history of Bruges.
This afternoon you have some more free time to take in the many sites of Bruges, rent a bike, take a carriage ride, visit museums, or just people watch, while savoring a Belgian beer in a sidewalk café. Tonight, dinner is on your own in one of Bruges many romantic and rustic restaurants. Your guide is available for dinner suggestions. (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 5 • Mont We depart Bruges to go to Chimay for lunch, a beer tasting and tour of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont grounds and the cemetery. Just around the corner from the Abbey is Chimay brewery tap Auberge de Poteaupre, where we will have a late lunch featuring cheese from the Abbey and of course the entire lineup of Chimay ales. After Chimay (time permitting), we transfer to Rochefort to take a look at the outside of the majestic abbey, which is not open to the public. There is a possibility of a tour here, but this cannot be confirmed at this time. From there we drive to Mont, where we will stay for the next two nights at the Brewery Inn of Le Vieille Forge operated by our gracious hosts Tine an Pol, who is also the brewer. LeVieille Forge was just featured in the Celebrator Beer News. Pol brews two beers, which you will taste in the coolest tavern ever! Tonight at 7 p.m., we will have a traditional Ardennes Mountain dinner prepared by Tine and we will dine in the rustic dining room of the inn next to a large stone fireplace. Before dinner you may visit the Grand Café next to the inn and indulge on your own in Pol’s beers and other regional favorites. Le Vieille Forge is just down the road from Brasserie Achouffe, which features a wonderful tavern and gift shop called the “Chouffe Shop,” where you can stock up on gnome-themed souvenirs. (Breakfast & dinner)
Day 6 • Mont Today is a big day as we head through the Ardennes Mountains to Trappist Orval for a brewery tour at 10:30 a.m., and lunch at 12:30. After lunch, we will also tour the ruins of the old abbey and see the exterior of the new one. You’ll also have time to visit the Orval gift shop. We’ll have lunch at the brewery tap l’Ange Gardien (Guardian Angel), located just a block from the Abbey. The brewery of Orval is off limits to the public. We are being granted special access. This evening we dine at 7 p.m. at the rustic Achouffe Tavern (about 1 km from our inn), and try all their incredible beers. Dinner is on your own. (Breakfast & lunch)
Day 7 • Tilburg, Netherlands We head north to the Achel Trappist Brewery at the St. Benedictus Abbey for lunch, beers and a tour. There is also a great beer retail store here, where you can stock up on a variety beer for home, including all the Trappists, except Westvleteren. Next we travel to Tilburg, Netherlands, about 45 minutes away, where we will spend the night and have time to explore and sample some Dutch craft beers. This afternoon, we have a beer tasting and tour at the La Trappe Brewery at the Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven. This is the most accessible and user-friendly Trappist brewery and is set up for visitors. The tour includes a movie (in English), a first-class tour, food, and of course, beer! Afterwards, we'll have dinner in their taproom. The rest of the evening is free to explore vibrant Tilberg. (Breakfast)
Day 8 • Mechelen, Belgium This morning, we depart Tilberg and head to Trappist Zundert (De Kievit Brewery), one of the newest Trappist breweries, to see the exterior of the Abbey Mary Refuge, visit the gift shop and taste their beer in a local beer cafe. Then we head south back into Belgium to visit the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle brewery tap Café Trappisten and have lunch. You’ll experience all the Westmalle beers as fresh to the source as possible. Order the Triptrap and get a dubbel mixed with tripel. They also have a great short film about Westmalle, narrated by a guy, who puts James Earl Jones to shame. Listen for my favorite line in it, “At Westmalle, time is a reluctant servant...” Across the street, we will see the beautiful exterior of the Abbey and its spectacular tree-lined driveway. Then it's on to Mechelen, where we’ll be staying at the Hotel Carolus right at the Het Anker Brewery. The hotel is built in the former bottling plant. The rest of the day is free to discover Mechelen, have dinner on your own and visit the city's many beer cafes. (Breakfast)
Day 9 • Mechelen, Belgium Mechelen is the perfect city in which to spend our last nights. It is an attractive, but much more intimate, historic city than Brussels. At 11 a.m., we’ll meet in the lobby for a short walking tour to get you acclimated, then you will have most of today to explore it on your own. I suggest packing a couple cold beers and climbing to the top of the belfry. From the modern observation deck, the view is outstanding and on a clear day you can see both Antwerp and Brussels. This evening, we have our farewell dinner at the brewery tap Het Anker Café featuring the mind-blowing Goudon Carolus beers. (Breakfast & dinner)
Day 10 • Mechelen, Belgium Breakfast concludes this most memorable and satisfying Lonely Monks Trappist Tour. Rail service between Mechelen and the BRU airport is frequent and takes about 20 min. This is the quickest and easiest route to BRU avoiding the infamous Brussels traffic. (Breakfast)
* This itinerary is subject to change