Seven of the guys set off to Spa with two goals in mind: watching some F1 racing at the best circuit in Europe and drinking some of the world's best beers, not necessarily in that order.
First stop Brouwerij St. Bernardus, just inside the Belgian border in Watou.
Marco Passerella, the marketing manager, arranged a tour of the brewery. A great host and full of useful information.
As on all good brewery tours, a sample or two was presented. A triple (above) and the Westvleteren-like Abt 12.
Negotiating some purchases before we left.
Next stop a little tavern on the way to Spa for food and of course more beer. The driver's on the lighter stuff.
The passengers (soon to be asleep) on the slightly heavier beers.
The next day in Spa: some ominous skies.
We got slightly wet on our walk back to the campsite.
Still, we were soon off to Achouffe to the Brasserie d'Achouffe and a glass of the Chouffe Houblen. Supposedly the original Belgian IPA, forerunner of Raging Bitch and Queboid perhaps? Regardless, probably my favourite beer of the weekend.
Other beers were consumed including a Royal Chouffe, which I think was La Chouffe with a large shot of Creme de Cassis.
The brewery tour was a slight disappointment when compared to the St Bernardus on the previous day. Still the Houblen was so good that two were downed in quick succession.
Beer was sourced for the evening at the campsite, including (possibly) my first taste of a Faro, a sweetened lambic with a complex sweet and sour taste.
The next day at the circuit was a bit damp.
Some of the side races were interesting...this was the 500m pit to pit tyre pull.
The weather did eventually clear up.
Another night another beer or 5. Not sure what the toilet roll was doing on the table!
Next day, race day was much better weather wise.
Side races today included the 500m totter in red high heels, over the same course of the previous day's tyre pull. The main event was a good race: Vettel worthy winner, but barnstorming overtaking from Button gave us Brits something to cheer on.
We decamped to Mons for a final night in Belgium. Straight into a "Tanks in Town" event.
Not unlike the UK, the beer choice in the restaurant was poor: Leffe was the the best choice, the rest being Carlsberg and Juplier. Still, tasted good after a long drive.
But some good beer was sourced back in the main square.
Maison De Brasseurs is an atmospheric little bar. A reasonable beer selection served well in the correct glasses. Worth a visit if you are in Mons.
Final day and back to Watou and a trip to Noel Cuvelier's Farm Shop. Noel is close to retirement and he doesn't normally open on Mondays, but we happened to arrive just as he was accepting a delivery, so he agreed to open the shop for 30 mins.
Some people got excited by this news....
...others shopped. We spent 700 Euros in about 45 mins so I'm sure he was glad he opened.
Some of the beers: a surprising number of sour beers there. Still if I can't get IPA's I have to get by kicks somewhere.
Anyone heading to Belgium, go to Watou. The Brouwerij St Bernardus and Noel Cuvelier's Farm Shop are two must-see attractions for any beer fan.