Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 65 / Beer & Battlefields 2013

Thursday 23rd May – Monday 27th May

Our fourth Beer & Battlfields Tour is based at the friendly Oude Abdij Hotel in Lo, site of one of the many Belgian breweries destroyed in the First World War.

St Louis Brewery Lo

St Louis Brewery Lo, now our hotel base!

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 be giving us the benefit of her studies on the MA in British First World War Studies which she began in Autumn 2012.

Post WW1 Beer poster Ypres

Post WW1 Beer Poster Ypres Vermeulen Brewery

Here is the detailed itinerary:

Thursday 23 May 2013

05.15 Coach pick up Crown Street, Ipswich (opp NCP Car Park).

05.45 Coach pick up Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester.

06.15 Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford.

07.50 Pick up at Stop 24, J11, M20, Kent.

09.20 Eurotunnel Train Crossing from Folkestone.

11.00 Arrive Calais.

12.00 Our first call is at the Brouwershuis De Snoek in Alveringem for a beer and pre-arranged lunch.

14.30 An afternoon visit just north of Ypres to Essex Farm Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) concrete bunkers established in 1915 in the Second Battle of Ypres. This is the site where John McCrae worked and penned the famous poem In Flanders Fields. We can also see the associated CWGC Essex Farm Cemetery and the memorial 49th (West Riding) Division. We travel the short distance for a quick look at the Yorkshire Trenches discovered and reconstructed by ‘The Diggers’ in 2000, including some Livens Projectors found there.

15.15 Arrive at the frontline village of Boezinge which was completely destroyed in WW1 as the canal in the town formed the front line with the Allies on the West bank and the Germans on the East. We will have a look at the Demarcation Stone marking the point where the Germans were halted in the town, a German bunker topped with a minnenwerfer (trench mortar) and hear about the recent return to the town of a WW1 soldier’s souvenir. Pop into Café De Zegge (Victory Cafe) for a beer or two, as the SAS Brewery is a stone’s throw away.

18.00 Check in at the Oude Abdij in Lo.

19.30 Pre-arranged evening meal, followed by Siobhan’s illustrated introductory talk on WW1 in the Ypres Salient, to orient Travellers in the history and geography of WW1 in West Flanders. Evening at leisure in the hotel well-stocked bar.

Friday 24 May 2013

10.00 Depart by coach from Oude Abdij Hotel.

10.30 Visit to the Memorials to the 2nd Worcesters and the 1st South Wales Borderers for their stand in October 1914 in the village of Gheluveld.

11.00 Visit the poignant Brooding Soldier Canadian Monument at Vancouver Corner at St. Julien, erected to commemorate the 2000 Canadian soldiers who died in the first gas attacks in April 1915 at this spot.

11.45 Visit to Sanctuary Wood, Hill 62 Museum* and café, a private museum with rare preserved trenches and some unique exhibits in the museum.

13.15 We head to Hoog Crater Museum one of the most dreaded spots on the Salient. We will have a look at their excellent museum* and will have a light lunch* and a beer* at the attached cafe. We have an opportunity to go into the grounds of the hotel next door and visit* some original blockhouses (pillboxes). It was here that the Germans first used the ‘flammenwerfer’ or flamethrower against the Allies.

15.30 We move south along the front line to the infamous Polygon Wood. We will have a guided walk around the wood and its various memorials and stories of the Battle of Polygon Wood and the impressive Buttes New British Cemetery, New Zealand Memorial to the Missing and Australian (Fifth Division). Followed by a drink in Den Dreve Café owned by Johan Vandewalle mining engineer and keen WW1expert.

18.00 A special evening visit to the private WW1 Museum* at the infamous Pond Farm. This farm near St. Julien was known as Pond Farm on British Army trench maps, and Kazerne Häseler on German military maps. After the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915 the farm was occupied by the Germans. By 1917 Pond Farm was one of many reinforced strongpoints in the German Army's defensive line. Three large bunkers, small bunkers, tunnels and cellars formed the fortifications at this place. Hopefully we can see the recently dug up piece of tank caterpillar track found at Pond farm, a rare find.Evening free in Veurne, armed with a copy of Podge's Veurne Bar Guide*. Veurne was HQ of the Belgian Army in WW1. A chance for a beer and dinner and a late return to our Hotel in Lo.

Saturday 25 May 2013

10.00 Depart Hotel for our first ever visit to the St George (St Joris) Brewery (owned by Six-Colpaert in WW1) in Reninghelst for a tour* and beer tasting* of the nearby brewers De Plukker the Rookop brown beer or the Keikoppenbier blonde, both organic made with Belgian hops in Poperinge. This brewery was just behind Allied lines in WW1 and was used as divisional baths for soldiers coming out of the line.

12.15 Visit to the second largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in Belgium at Lijssenthoek, just south of Poperinge, where there is a new visitors centre telling the story of this unusual cemetery constructed around a Casualty Clearing Station. We will go via Voormezele Enclosure No.3 CWGC to see and hear about the last resting place of Peter Pan.

14.00 Make our way to Ypres for lunch and a visit* to the newly revamped In Flanders Fields Museum in the Cloth Hall. Evening free in Ypres with Podge’s Ypres Bar Guide and map*. Do try the Vauban Bar as Podge has made some arrangements for some exciting beers to be stocked here.

20.00 Travellers can take in the moving last post ceremony at the Menin Gate. This ceremony is held every night by the Belgian Fire Service in memory of those who died in the First World War, held underneath the Gate which forms a huge memorial to 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who have no known grave. Evening return to Hotel by coach.

Sunday 26 May 2013

10.00 Depart by coach from Hotel for a visit to the Ijzertoren* in Dixmuide which is a museum to the Great War and the struggle for Flemish emancipation, which as we shall see, is linked to the Great War experience in this part of Belgium. There are 22 floors and a panoramic view from the top floor. This is followed by a quick stop at the nearby:

12.15 Dodengang or Trenches of Death which are well-preserved Belgian Army trenches and a visitors centre and museum.

14.00 A brewery tour* and tasting* at De Dolle Brouwers in Esen, who spearheaded the renaissance of Belgian brewing in 1980. Parts of the original Costnoble brewery have survived from WW1, particularly the cellars, which played a part in the atrocities here in October 1914.

16.00 Make our way to Poperinge and a meal at Oude Vlaenderen following which Siobhan will be giving an illustrated talk* on Beer in WW1. Free evening to explore the bars of Poperinge armed with a copy of Podge's Poperinge Bar Guide*.

22.00ish Return to hotel.

Monday 27 May 2013

10.00 Depart Hotel for the excellent Vanuxeem beer warehouse in Ploegsteert for an opportunity to buy beers to take home.

12.00 Arrive at Frelinghien near the French border for a visit to the memorial to the 1914 Christmas Truce which started in this area with the immortal shout from the Germans opposite the British troops in this sector ‘Don’t Shoot, we’ll send beer!’.

13.30 Arrive at In de Vrede the café of the Trappist Monastery at Westvleteren, which has many WW1 stories attached to it. The Abbey was used to billet soldiers in WW1 and kept brewing beer throughout the war. Opportunity here for a beer and a snack.

16.00 Call in at great new specialist beer café Kunstemaecker in Steenkerke near Veurne for a last beer or two from their exceptional beer menu.

18.50 Arrive Eurotunnel.

19.50 Leave Calais on Eurotunnel Train.

19.30 Arrive Folkestone.

19.40 Coach drop off Stop 24, J11, M20, Kent.

20.45 Coach drop off Dartford Railway Station.

21.20 Coach drop off 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford.

21.50 Coach drop off Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester.

22.20 Coach drop off Crown Street, Ipswich (opp NCP Car Park).

Tour Price: £440

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 five 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. Please also have a look at our Terms and Conditions.