#Innsider’s Guide: 7 spots for a true Belgian beer experience
Belgium has three regions, three languages and an undying love for three products: Fries, chocolate and beer!
These three magic words will win over the most reserved Belgian. While Belgium is of course not the only country with a brew, it has some big names that are unrivaled in their kind. Most notably, the Trappist and Lambic beers. Belgian breweries have the uncanny quality of being located in charming cities or idyllic countryside. Let’s explore the top Belgian beers and the bustling breweries that make them!
1. Espace Chimay
Close to the French border lies the town of Chimay. Their pride and joy is aptly named: Chimay! This beer has been made with utter devotion since 1862 at the Abbey by Trappist monks, meaning that the beer is brewed under the control and responsibility of monks residing in the abbey. The brewery itself is off limits for those of us out of habit, but the Abbey is open to visitors. Reward yourself afterwards with a brew and a piece of Chimay cheese at Espace Chimay.
© Claude Rosaux / Flickr
2. Achouffe Brewery
In the very south-east, deep in the Ardennes, you can find the Achouffe Brewery. Here the hoppy and flavorful beer named La Chouffe is made. The Ardennes are at their absolute best in the fall, when the foliage and game attract many Belgians on a family weekend. Reservations to discover the brewery can be made through their website; guided tours are available on Monday, Wednesday, and Sundays at 2pm.
© Rudy Pické / Flickr
3. Trappist Brewery of Westmalle
All the way up north, close to the city of Antwerp is the Trappist Brewery of Westmalle. The abbey itself is not open to visitors but the two delicious beers on offer, Westmalle Dubbel and Trippel more than make up for it. As in most Trappist orders, a cheese to go with the beer is also made.
Head back to the city of Antwerp to ‘put the flowers out’. Just ask the locals, they’ll gladly explain what that means. Antwerp has loads of restaurants, bars and clubs to do just that. During the day, it is best known for its diamonds, fashion and great shopping. Just a few steps from the magnificent railway station, you’ll find Park Inn by Radisson Antwerp.
4. Stella Artois Brewery
Another interesting stop for beer lovers is the city of Leuven, where you can visit the Stella Artois Brewery. Its international renown notwithstanding, Stella has humble beginnings. It is the country’s lager by choice and truly the people’s beer. But out of small Stella Artois grew the largest brewing company in the world: SAB-Miller Anheuser-Busch InBev. Wherever you’re from, their beers are on tap in every bar. For this reason alone, the brewery is worth a visit.
A good place to rest after diving head first into the bustling college town of Leuven is our Park Inn by Radisson Leuven which is just by the train station, so you will be conveniently connected to the other breweries scattered around the country.
5. The Wiels
If you are looking to discover the best cross section of what Belgium has to offer, be it beer, food or culture, we recommend a visit to Brussels. The Grand Place, the cast-iron Museum of Musical Instruments or the Rue Dansaert with its great shopping are just some of the spots you can’t miss. The Wiels, a former brewery turned into contemporary art space, offers great views of the city. It also gives you a glimpse into the specific style and architecture that puts Brussels on the map.
6. Brasserie de la Senne
In the same spirit of daring authenticity, Brussels city brewery ‘Brasserie de la Senne‘ is one of the newer additions to the Belgian brewing scene. You can only schedule group visits but they also offer a small tasting by the bar at the brewery – their ‘Zinnebir‘ is offered by Brussels’ coolest bars and bistros.
7. Delirium Village
A nightlife staple when visiting Brussels is the Delirium Village, with a whopping 2000+ beers on offer. With 8 bars scattered around the city, there will always be a place where you can find a Delirium brew. The bars may be a little loud, but trust us when we tell you that they are worth every decibel!
Our Park Inn by Radisson Brussels Midi Hotel next to the Brussels Midi train station is a good starting point to discover the city, even better if you are coming or going to Paris or London by high-speed train. But if you are flying into Brussels, Park Inn by Radisson Brussels Airport is just few meters away from the airport that connects Europe!