What’s Brew­ing in Bel­gium

The Washington Post Sunday - - Way To Go - By An­drea Sachs

Q My hus­band and I are plan­ning a trip to Bel­gium, and we’d like to tour some brew­eries. We will be based out of Brus­sels but would like to take some day trips and short overnights. Any sug­ges­tions? El­iz­a­beth Madi­gan

Po­tomac Falls A “Bel­gium has the best beer in the world,” says Johnny Fin­cioen, a Flem­ish beer im­porter who also runs the Global Beer Net­work ( www.glob­al­beer.com), which is based in Santa Bar­bara, Calif., and spe­cial­izes in Bel­gian beer and travel.

Fin­cioen ex­plains that the coun­try’s his­tory of hops has made it a prime des­ti­na­tion for brew afi­ciona­dos. For ex­am­ple, since pre­his­toric times, the coun­try has been pro­duc­ing the Lam­bic style of beer with­out in­ter­rup­tion, and cen­turies ago Bel­gian monks dis­cov­ered that adding yeast to beer keeps it fresh. Ad­di­tion­ally, Bel­gian brew­ers are known for toss­ing spices, such as co­rian­der and fruit, into their beer. (At one point, Ger­many out­lawed such ad­di­tives.) To­day, those same fla­vors, and the brew­maker fam­i­lies who made them, are still around.

Bel­gium has more than 450 va­ri­eties of beer and about 125 brew­eries. Many of the opera- tions are set in rural vil­lages, but be­cause of the coun­try’s small size (equal to Mary­land), most are only an hour or two by car from Brus­sels. Fin­cioen’s top picks in­clude Van Steen­berge (011-32-93-44-50-71, www. vansteen­berge.com) in Ertvelde; the fam­i­lyrun Ro­man Brew­ery (011-32-55-45-54-01, www.ro­man.be) in Ou­de­naarde; and Silly Brew­ery (011-32-68-55-16-95, www.silly-beer. com) in (laugh if you must) the vil­lage of Silly.

Brus­sels does not have any brew­eries per se, but ven­ture to the out­skirts of town for the Can­til­lon Brew­ery (011-32-25-21-49-28, www. can­til­lon.be), which also houses the Gueuze Mu­seum.

For sight­see­ing be­tween sips, day-trip to Bruges, a city with canals, cob­ble­stone streets and mu­se­ums cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from choco­late to di­a­monds to Flem­ish art. When you need a pint, head over to the Brew­ery De Halve Maan, which dates to 1564 and is open for tours and tast­ings. Info: Tourism Bruges, 011-32-50-44-46-46, www.brugge.be.

The Bel­gian Tourist Of­fice has in­for­ma­tion on brew­eries, beer tours and mu­se­ums, and boozy events around the coun­try, such as Beer Pas­sion Week­end in June. Info: 212-758-8130, www.vis­it­bel­gium.com. My hus­band is go­ing to a con­fer­ence in Is­tan­bul. Is it safe for me, an Amer­i­can wo­man, to tour the city alone dur­ing the day? Kathy Sud­worth

Sev­erna Park

For solo fe­male trav­el­ers, Is­tan­bul is sim­i­lar to many other ma­jor cities around the world: It’s safe, with cau­tion. “It’s a con­cern if you are not cul­tur­ally cor­rect,” says Eve­lyn Han­non, ed­i­tor of Jour­ney­woman.com ( www. jour­ney­woman.com/in­dex.html), an on­line travel re­source for women. “Do your re­search, dress ap­pro­pri­ately, and ob­serve other fe­males and try to be­have the way they do.” Re­gard­less of sex, know which ar­eas are safe and do your best to blend in. Jour­ney­woman.com posts cloth­ing sug­ges­tions from other women who have trav­eled to Turkey: “The long-sleeved out­fits were also good for tour­ing. . . . Also, an­kle-length skirts are an­other mod­est choice that didn’t seem to cause dif­fi­cul­ties,” writes Shan­non from Ar­ling­ton.

Be­sides the usual ur­ban ills, you may ex­pe­ri­ence ag­gres­sive male be­hav­ior: Men might be curious to talk to an Amer­i­can wo­man or wish to sell you their wares. If you are con­cerned about such in­ter­ac­tions, ask your ho­tel to sug­gest a private guide, or join a group tour. You may even make a new travel buddy you can pal around with.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.