So recently the region of Vlaams Brabant (Flemish Brabant) in Belgium launched a tourism campaign targeted towards expats. Flemish Brabant is the bordering region of Brussels so there are a lot of expats who live in and around the area.
Having been working in this region for 3 years, I felt like I’ve never really explored much around so I thought it would be great to see what else Belgium has to offer!
I signed up for the Brewery and Castle tour because ok, I’ve been in Belgium for 3 years but have never taken a brewery tour (sacrilege!). I was also curious about the castle because I mean Belgium isn’t really known for castles.
The tour started in the Oud Beersel brewery in the city of (surprise surprise) Beersel, in (yet another surprise) the region of Vlaams Brabant.
To be completely honest, I did not research a thing about this tour so it was a complete surprise to me (a real surprise) that we weren’t visiting a “normal” beer brewery, but rather a traditional brewery of “oude gueuze” beer.
What is oude gueuze you might ask? If you really want to know, the best thing is to ask google.
I cannot, in any any way, pretend to be a beer expert so I will only tell you the 5 things I know about gueuze beer:
- The fermentation is different than normal beers
- It’s what gives that weird acidic and sour taste (a bit like cider)
- It’s sparkling (lambic is the flat one)
- Kriek – the cherry beer is from this same family of beers (it’s the only type that is kinda famous)
- This is only mostly successfully brewed in Belgium
- No one drinks this beer much (an extra point that is clearly obvious)
So we met the regional tour guide and the guide for the brewery (both named Kristin funnily enough) in the cellars of the brewery. Kristin (the brewery guide) gave us the history and explanation of the brewery and gueuze beer.
We also did a small tour of the whole brewery, including where they kept all the beers that were being fermented in wooden barrels.
Some people were brave and tasted the overflow of fermenting beer from the barrels. Suffice to say the look on their faces after tasting this did not in any way encourage me to try the same.
I totally loved how passionate Kristin was about gueuze (and beer in general). I feel like she was overflowing with so much information and she was struggling to keep it all contained for fear of exploding 🙂 (it’s a compliment by the way in case it’s not obvious).
Anyway of course part of the brewery tour is a taste of the product. Let me tell you, if you have never drank this kind of lambic beer before, you are in for the surprise of your life.
All in all, it was a really interesting tour that really gives you a feel of traditional beer “brewing” (unlike let’s say going to the Stella Artois brewery and looking at machines in a factory setting).
It’s a micro brasserie so it may be difficult to find their products in the market. Personally I’ve never seen this beer brand in any grocery. So it’s also a good opportunity for beer lovers out there to try something that could be difficult to find.
After the tour of the brewery, our guides led us on a 15 minute walk to the castle
We passed by the brewery’s garden(?)/ yard(?)/farm(?) where they were starting to grow some cherry trees for their kriek beer. It was a really nice day out in autumn so the walk was quite pleasant.
Upon arriving at Beersel castle, another guide took over to give us a brief history of the castle and some information about the reconstruction to make it look as how it is now.
The castle itself is quite impressive and the facade has been reconstructed well. Inside though the castle is bare as it was mostly used as a fortress. Nontheless there were still some interesting stories to be told (and pretty pictures to be taken).
We were advised to go as high up as possible to get a good view of the surrounding area so we did. We ended up going all the way up to some sort of tower which honestly I think is only for birds (and their excrement). Not advised unless you are a fan of pigeon sh*t.
All in all it was a really nice way to spend the afternoon!
Thanks to tourism vlaams brabant for the great tour (and thanks as well for the goodie bag).
In case it wasn’t obvious, you can find all the tours from Vlaams Brabant here