In 2017, Belgian beer was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. So next time your friends and family come to visit, why not take them on a cultural day out. Here are our 10 favourite brewery day trips from Ghent. Each one has info on how to get there if you’re without a BOB (the Belgian concept of designated driver). Most tours are available in Dutch, English and French, with some breweries also offering German on request. Either check the breweries’ websites or specify when you book. And if the tours whet your appetite, then check out the bars and shops in Ghent or best summertime terraces where you are most likely to find the full range of this national treasure.
It makes sense to start in Ghent itself. The main brewery in the city, Gruut has been producing beer – interestingly with a mixture of herbs (a Gruut in medieval times) instead of hops – since 2009. It now has five different tipples – Ghent Gruut White, Ghent Gruut Blonde, Ghent Gruut Amber, Ghent Gruut Brown and Ghent Gruut Inferno. You’re bound to have spotted 1 or 2 of these on a Ghent cafe menu.
Getting there from Ghent: Well, this is the easy one – it’s tucked inside Baudelopark in Ghent city centre.
Halve Maan, Bruges
The undeniable fascinating fact about the Halve Maan brewery in Bruges is that it transports its beer 3.2km from the original, city-centre and centuries-old brewery to its modern bottling plant via underground pipes. Underground beer pipes, whatever next! The tour here takes you through a beautiful building with stunning views at the end. Enough to work up a thirst to try their famous Brugse Zot beer.
Getting there from Ghent: Train to Bruges, about 40 mins
Delirium Tremens (Huyghe Brewery), Melle
Although the name might not be so familiar, you’re bound to recognise the Delirium Tremens pink elephants that cover the Huyghe Brewery buildings in Melle. Wearing a fetching pink safety jacket, you’ll get a guided walk through the whole production process. As the tours are only available on weekdays (when production is in full flow) you get to see the robots in action, spinning their arms to clean, photograph and refill barrels over and over again. Bottles being topped with thousands of pink elephant bottle caps at lightning speed is nothing short of hypnotic. At the end of the tour, grab a glass and tuck in – the ‘tasters’ are generous.
Getting there from Ghent: Train to Melle, or buses 28, 94, 96, 44, around 20 mins
A small, artisanal microbrewery in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes, Keun has only been officially recognised since 2016. Twice a month, 200 litres are produced here. On a guided tour, Gert the owner will take you through the production process, right from the moment the hops are grown on site (pictured).
Getting there from Ghent: Train/bus to Oudenaarde and then bus 61 or 63 to Ronser Populierstraat, just over an hour
3 Fonteinen, South-West of Brussels
If you like your lambics, the 3 fonteinen brewery is one of the best brewery day trips from Ghent for you. Disaster nearly struck in 2009 for this small, family-run brewery south-west of Brussels, when over 13,000 bottles exploded after a thermostat malfunction. Learn how they recovered, with the help of over 100 volunteers, to go on and create a unique set of blends known as the Armand 4’.
Getting there from Ghent: Train to Brussels Midi, then tram S2 to Lot, about an hour
Bourgogne des Flandres, Bruges
Bourgogne des Flandres was originally brewed by the Den Os brewery, which was forced to close its doors in 1957 after the damage of two world wars, and the growing popularity of German lager. But this beer didn’t give in so easily – different breweries kept the family recipe alive over the years, and since 2015, Bourgogne des Flandres has been brewed again, at its original location, in the heart of Bruges. On a tour here learn how to tap beer digitally and take a bottle home with your picture on it. Your visit finishes with a toast overlooking the canals of Bruges’ old town.
Getting there from Ghent: Train to Bruges, about 40 mins
Dilewyns (Vicaris), Dendermonde
The family-run brewery Dilewyns is relatively new on the scene, having only started producing Vicaris in 2005. It’s now run by Vincent and his two daughters Anne-Cathérine and Claire, This makes it one of the best brewery day trips from Ghent for that family-run feel. All Vicaris beers are brewed 100% naturally.
Getting there from Gent: Train to Dendermonde and then bus 252 or 257 to Dendermonde Korte Dijkstraat, around 1 hour
Duvel Moortgat, Between Antwerp and Brussels
Duvel, probably one of the most recognisable Belgian beers, is produced at the Moortgat brewery, about 50km from Ghent. On a tour, a professional beer sommelier will take you around, tell you about the history of the brewery, show you the bottlery and teach you how to correctly sample this classic beer that was the first to be served in the now customary tulip-shaped glass.
Getting there from Ghent: Train to Londerzeel and then bus 250 or 460 to Breendonk Molenheide, 1 hour 15 minutes
Het Anker, Mechelen
Het Anker is one of the oldest breweries (1471) in Belgium and is still based in the city’s beguinage where patients used to drink the beer as it was ‘cleaner’ than water. A tour takes you through the historic buildings and onto the rooftop to see how the beer used to be cooled in the open air. You can admire the views over Mechelen before heading down into the cellars where barrels now store whisky. This brewery even has an on-site hotel – handy to know if you take a liking to the Gouden Carolus!
Getting there from Ghent: Train to Mechelen, just over 1 hour
Westvleteren, Near the French Border
It would be rude not to include what some consider the best beer in the world. Unfortunately there’s no tour, but this doesn’t stop plenty of people embarking on a pilgrimage 100km west of Ghent to make Westvleteren one of the best brewery day trips from Ghent. You can read all about this brewery in our dedicated Westvleteren post.
Have you been on any brewery day trips from Ghent that you’d recommend? Or perhaps you’ve run around them all at the annual June Brewery Marathon? Let us know in our comments section below.
Main Image: inside Dilewyns (Vicaris) in Dendermonde