Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 59 / Beer & Battlefields 2012

Thursday 3rd May – Monday 7th May

Snoek Blond label

Snoek Blond Bier.

This will be our third Beer & Battlefields Tour. This year we return to the friendly Oude Abdij Hotel in Lo, which was one of the many Belgian breweries destroyed in the first World War. This Tour will centre on battlefields and breweries in the Ypres Salient in Flanders and will as usual include visits to well known and some less well known sites. We will have the services of Siobhan McGinn as our guide to Flanders fields, and this year Siobhan will share her current interests in tanks in Flanders and the Zeebrugge Raid 1918.

St Louis Brewery

St Louis Brewery Lo. Destroyed in WW1 and now the site of our hotel on tour.

Thursday 3rd May

Outbound Eurotunnel on Thursday 09.20.

Full guided tour*, beer* and lunch* at the Museum of Thirst in The Great War at Alveringem, which has recently re-opened.

Afternoon brewery tour* and beer tasting* at Van Eecke Brewery in Watou.

Check in at Oude Abdij Hotel for an evening meal.

The bar at our hotel will not only be stocking excellent beers from local breweries Sint Bernardus & Van Eecke but there may be a surprise or two as well.

An evening introductory illustrated talk by Siobhan on the progress of WW1 in the Ypres Salient, to orient Travellers in the history and geography of WW1 in this area.*

Friday 4th May

Poperings Hommel Bier

Poperings Hommel Bier.

Morning visit to National Hop Museum in Poperinge for an full tour* and an included Hommelbier*.

Lunch in Poperinge.

Siobhan will be giving an illustrated talk* after lunch on Beer in WW1, including what happened to beer in UK and in Belgium and the fate of Breweries in the German occupied area and the fortunes of those in the Allied held area.

A visit to Elzenwalle Brewery Cemetery CWGC, named after a brewery which stood opposite in WW1 to hear about one of the Sherwood Foresters buried there, a relative of one of our Travellers.

Stop at the excellent Vanuxeem beer warehouse to buy beers to take home.

A guided walk* round the infamous Ploegsteert Wood.

For the first time we will be visiting the imposing Ploegsteert Memorial for the monthly Last Post Ceremony held on first Friday of every month.

A visit to ’Auberge café for a beer or two chosen from a menu that includes all the beers from the Moortgat Brewery Empire. The café is directly opposite the imposing Ploegsteert Memorial.

Evening free in Poperinge, armed with a copy of Podge’s Poperinge Bar Guide*.

Saturday 5th May

In the morning we follow the journey which the famous Mark IV tank F41 Fray Bentos took from Oosthoek Wood to Gallipoli Farm on 22 August 1917 to the spot where it ditched. We will hear from Siobhan the amazing story of the men who held out in for 3 days in the tank as an isolated pillbox in no-mans.

Visit to Tyne Cot CWGC, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world. We will hear from Siobhan the strategic part this hill had to play in the Third Battle of Ypres (Passendaele) and have a look at the German bunkers built into the cemetery, and hear what it cost to take them in November 1917.

Lunch at De Reutel, right on the old front line. Plenty of beers at this great little cafe.

Call in at Poelcapelle where we visit the new Tank Memorial placed on the spot where D Battalion tank D29 Damon II went out of action and sat in the centre of the village outside the Zwaan Café as seen in WW1 photos. The cafe is still there (need it be said that we will be popping in for refreshment). The Tank memorial is next to one of the most beautiful personal memorials in the Salient, the Stork Monument to French Flying Ace Georges Guynemer, shot down near this spot.

We are delighted to announce that Johan Vanbeselaere will be meeting us at Poelcapelle. Johan lives in Poelcapelle and is an expert on Tanks in the Ypres salient. He will talk to us about tank action in Poelcapelle, show us his unique collection of photographs and bits of tank he has dug up! His piece de resistance and long-term project is to build a full size replica tank to be placed in the centre of Poelcapelle. Johan will show us how this project is progressing together with the full size replica he has built of Georges Guynemer’s Spad plane!

We will also have a look at the Tank Memorial Ypres Salient recently placed in the centre of Poelcapelle.

Evening free in Ieper and an opportunity to attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menem Gate which has taken place at 20.00hrs every night since the Menen Gate was built. Copies of Podge’s Ieper Bar Guide* and map will be provided.

Sunday 6th May

Morning visit to Vladslo German Military Cemetery which houses the emotionally charged statues created by German sculptor Käthe Kollwitz for her son who is buried there.

A visit to the extraordinary preserved Belgian Army trenches at Dixmuide, known in WW1 and now as the Dodengang (Trenches of Death). The museum and trenches tell the story of how the Belgian Army fiercely defended this area of Belgium for 4 years against the Germans whose trenches were only feet away.

Included in the Tour price is lunch* and a beer* at the Dodengang Café.

An afternoon brewery tour* and beer tasting* at the legendary De Dolle Brouwers in Esen.

Costenoble Brewery De Dolle Brewery

Costenoble Brewery, Esen c.1910 and now De Dolle Browers, Esen.

Visit to Lange Max Museum* in Koekelare to see the installation of the huge German naval gun used in WW1 with a 29 mile range.

Call in at De Inktpot café in Koekelare (in a former WW1 brewery) for a local Couckelaerschen Doedel beer* included in the Tour price.

Evenings free in Veurne, armed with a copy of Podge’s Veurne Bar Guide*.

Monday 7th May

This morning Siobhan will be sharing her interest in the little known Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids of 1918.

First we go to Zeebrugge and the infamous Mole (sea wall) and follow the story of the incredible Zeebrugge Raid on St Georges Day 1918, and the role of the Mersey Steamers Iris & Daffodil, the amazing success of Submarine C3 and the limited successes of the block ships HMS Thetis, Intrepid and Iphigenia.

We go to nearby Zeebrugge Churchyard to follow the fate of one brave individual amongst many, missing officer Frank Brock who was last seen on the Mole fighting Germans with his fists. We have a look at the memorial to him.

We then move down the coast to see the prow of HMS Vindictive where it rests in Ostend and hear its fate from the first daring raid at Zeebrugge to its role in the Second Ostend Raid.

HMS Vindictive

HMS Vindictive after the Zeebrugge Raid 23 April 1918.

Lunch is at top beer cuisine restaurant Bistronoom in Ostende.

Time for a few last beers of the tour at superb new beer cafe Toogoloog in Middelkerke.

Inbound Eurotunnel on Monday 19.50.

Tour Price: £420 (per person)

Based on sharing in a twin or double room. Single Supplement: £120. If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller please contact Podge as we are regularly able to pair up travellers in twin rooms to avoid the need for payments of Single Supplements.

All detailed itinerary times are local and approximate. All food and drink (apart from those marked with an asterisk* on the detailed itinerary) and all passport and insurance costs are each traveller’s responsibility. Personal insurance is not included in the Tour price, but is strongly advised, as is carrying the European Health Insurance Card available online, by phone or via the Post Office.

If you would like to join us or have any questions please call Podge on +44 (0)1245 354677 or send Podge an email. Please also contact Podge to get details of how to send a deposit of £100 per person for this Tour. Full balance payable 5 weeks before departure.

Included in the cost of this Tour: Hotel accommodation and breakfasts; Luxury coach travel on a 49 seater coach with toilet; All Brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings; Entrance fees to attractions, museums and historical sites; All other items marked with an asterisk on the individual detailed tour itinerary; Copies of Podge’s City Bar guide and Map for the town or city where we stay or spend some time on Tour; Free still and sparkling water on the coach; Pick up from Ipswich (Crown Street Layby), Colchester (Southway Chapel St South Layby) or Chelmsford (The Woolpack, Mildmay Road). Arrangements can be made for different joining points on the way to Folkestone or even on the other side of the channel. Tour terms and conditions here.