Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 77 / 1815 – 1915 Beer & Battlefield Centenary Tour

Wednesday 17 June – Monday 22 June 2015

This special six day Tour takes in the centenary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought on 18 June 1815 just south of Brussels. This historical battle saw the French army under Napoleon defeated by a coalition of the British army commanded by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army under Blücher and was, as Wellington famously stated ‘a damn close-run thing’.

Battle of Waterloo re-enactment.

The tour will be based at the luxurious four star Hotel Park**** in the centre of Kortrijk. Recently refurbished to a high standard it has spacious rooms, a swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath and fitness centre. It has its own bistro and separate bar plus a sumptuous dining area for a breakfast which is glorious by any standards, having everything you could wish for including a large glass vial of chocolate pieces, several varieties of doughnuts and a dedicated egg chef to cater for your individual egg needs at breakfast.

Park Hotel, Kortrijk.

This is the current itinerary which is still subject to change:

Wednesday 17 June 2015

05.35hr Coach pick up at the bus turning circle at the junction of Severals Lane and Ipswich Road, Colchester, CO4 0HQ.

05.45hr Coach pick up Chapel St South Layby Southway, Colchester CO2 7BA.

06.15hr Coach pick up The Woolpack, Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN.

07.00hr Coach pick up Esso Dartford Service Station, 474 Princes Rd, Dartford DA1 1YT.

07.40hr Coach pick up Maidstone Service Station, Junction 8, M20 Motorway, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1SS.

08.15hr Pick up at Stop24 J11 M20 near Folkestone Kent CT21 4BL.

09.20hr Eurotunnel from Folkestone.

11.00hr Arrive Calais.

12.00hr Our first stop is at the lovely and friendly ‘t Hof van Hemel in the beautiful Belgian town of Veurne. We will have our first pre-arranged group meal here and our first crack at their great beer list which extends to 70+ and which contains an assortment of rarities.

14.15hr Following lunch we cross the main square (Grote Markt) to pay a visit to the beautiful Stadshuis, which was the Belgian Army Headquarters for much of WW1. We will visit the exhibition* Vrij Vaderland – “Leven achter het Front” about Veurne and life behind the front in the First World War in this town in the small part of Belgium which remained in Belgian hands throughout WW1. We will also have a taste* of a beer named in honour of local heroes Karel Cogge and Hendrik Geernaerts, accompanied by local delicacies of a food nature!*

15.30hr Leave Veurne and make our way to the nearby Brouwershuis Café attached to the Museum of Thirst in the Great War in Alveringem. This superb little café is run by the lovely Francine and her team. The old De Snoeck (Pike) Brewery continued to brew beer for soldiers during WW1. Here we have a crack at Francine’s fabulous beer list of over 150 choices. We love this place!

18.15hr Arrive at four star Hotel Park centrally located in Kortrijk. Copies of Podge’s Kortrijk Bar Guide* and Map* will be distributed for an evening saunter through the great beer bars of this Flemish city of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, 1302.

Thursday 18 June 2015 – Exploring the Waterloo Battlefield

10.00hr Leave Hotel for the journey to the Waterloo Battlefields.

11.15hr Arrive at a site just south of the Waterloo battlefield, Quatre Bras (“Four Arms”), the infamous crossroads where a pre-Waterloo battle took place two days before the main battle. We shall have a look at what happened here and at the several memorials around this strategic crossroads including the large memorial at the spot where “The Black Duke”, The Duke of Brunswick was shot and killed on the battlefield.

12.15hr Call in at Napoleon’s Last Headquarters* (Dernier Quartier Général de Napoléon) where he and his men stayed on 16 and 17 June 1815 which is now the Caillou museum in Vieux-Genappe*. Some of Napoleon's possessions were there, including his bed. We will distribute each travellers’ four day Museum Pass which entitles you to entrance to several attractions connected with the battle and on the battlefield site itself, known as The Lion Hamlet.

14.45hr We call in at the Brasserie du Lion, a brand new brewery in Waterloo who are brewing Impériale, a golden Belgian strong ale of 7.5%. Here we will have a look at their brewery and a taste of their new beer Impériale*.

16.30hr Visit to the Wellington Museum in Waterloo town, an old inn which was the great man's headquarters*.

17.30hr Arrive at L'Amusoir Restaurant in Waterloo town for a pre-arranged meal. This is just a few hundred yards from the Wellington Museum.

20.00hr Arrive at Oscars in Waterloo town for a crack at their beer list of over 60 choices. This place is just opposite L'Amusoir.

late return by coach to our hotel in Kortrijk.

Friday 19 June 2015 - Loos 1915

Today is devoted to the biggest Western Front 1915 First World War battle, the little known Battle of Loos (25 September – 14 October 1915) in which the British Army suffered casualties of just under 60,000 men. Known at the time as ‘The Big Push’ this allied offensive was planned and fought over the mining district and slag heaps of Northern France, near Lens and was an early large scale attempt to break the German lines, gradually strengthening on the Western Front.

Scottish troops returning from the line, Battle of Loos, September-October 1915 (IWM).

10.00hr Head off by coach from Hotel Park.

11.30hr Arrive in the Loos-en-Gohelle area where we will spend the day concentrating on the Battle of Loos and looking at some of the sites connected with the battle, the challenges the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) faced in 1915 around manpower, firepower, tactics and interesting relations with their Allies. We will look at the first use of gas by the BEF against the Central Powers in this battle and the challenges of attacking over mining terrain. We hope to visit the WW1 Museum in Loos* itself, Dud Corner Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery (CWGC) and the Loos Memorial to the Missing from which a panoramic view of the battlefield can be had from viewing platforms built into the cemetery. Our battlefield guide Siobhan will tell us about the famous Footballer of Loos, Frank Edwards, a rifleman with the London Irish Rifles and a member of their football team who smuggled a football in his haversack – against orders – and dribbled it into no mans land, determined to boot it into the German lines. She will orient us around the view over the battlefield including two the soldiers used being the Double Crassier and the site of the infamous “Tower Bridge”. We hope to be able to get to the even more infamous Hohenzollern Redoubtto hear what happened there. We will hear about the BEF attacks on Hill 70, the story of Lone Tree in no man’s land and Siobhan will also tell us about Rudyard Kipling’s loss of his son John in this battle, his long search for John’s body and the recent developments around John’s whereabouts, which end at St Mary’s ADS CWGC which we will also visit. Or do they?

14.00hr We arrive in the behind the lines town of Bethune, well known to the BEF the night before the battle of Loos. Here we can have lunch and a drink in your choice of bars and restaurants on the main square.

16.30hr Leave Bethune to travel north through the area of the Western Front held by the BEF for the whole of the First World War, sometimes known as the forgotten front, in French Flanders and Artois, from Armentières on the Franco-Belgian border to La Bassée. Over this area was fought the early battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert, and Loos, but are less famous than the battles of the Somme (1916) and Third Ypres (Passendaele) (1917).

17.30hr We make our way along the Western Front north to the immortal Salient and we will spend the evening in the beautiful totally reconstructed town of Ypres where we should have an opportunity to find something to eat and armed with a copy of Podge’s Ypres Bar Guide* and Map* explore the great bars which have popped up in Ypres over the last year or so. For those who would like to we will stay long enough to enable travellers to attend the nightly ceremony of the Last Post at the Menin Gate at 20.00hr.

21.00hrs Leave Ypres to return to our Hotel in Kortrijk.

Saturday 20 June 2015– The Allied Counterattack Re-Enactment Waterloo

12.00hr Following a superb buffet breakfast in our hotel we head off by coach later today as we will be returning to Kortrijk late. This gives some time to shop in Kortrijk or perhaps have a look at the giant golden spur in the park which marks the actual Golden Spur battlefield, a glorious event to the Flemish as seen in the iconography and architecture of the gold victory statue near the the spur. You can also visit the main OLV church in town and see the replica Golden Spurs hung from the ceiling. The originals were stolen back by the French eighty years after the battle.

13.00hr Arrive at Tubize and the Brasserie de Tubize, a brewery established in 2010 by Jean Rodriguez owner of the famous Brussels restaurant 't Spinnekopke. Here will look at the brewery museum* and have a pre-arranged meal at the brewery.

15.00hr Leave Tubize Brewery.

15.30hr Arrive at the Waterloo Battlefield for a chance to visit the Lion Hamlet*, The Lion Mound*, the two films* and the Panorama*. There may be other attractions here for this special centenary.

The Lion Mound, Waterloo.

There will also be other events involving the Official commemoration of the Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, with military bands representing the combatant nations.

20.00hr Commencement of the Battle of Waterloo re-enactment - the Allied Counterattack, for which we have seating tickets which will be distributed*.

We will be visiting the Waterloo battlefield to coincide with one of the centenary re-enactment days, which will be the biggest ever held with over 5,000 participants, 300 horses and 100 cannon and we have secured a number of seated tickets for an evening re-enactment.

This re-enactment is concentrated around Hougoumont Farm, a fortified farm strengthened by the British expecting a French attack. The fighting starts under the loud roar of artillery fire and results in a blood bath. Thousands lie dead and wounded. Under fire from the British, the French Guard attempts a final attack, which ends in failure. The Guard “dies, but will never surrender”. Napoleon flees to Paris, leaving the victors, Wellington and Blücher to celebrate their victory together at Belle Alliance Farm.

Late Return at agreed time and place to Hotel Park, Kortrijk.

Sunday 21 June 2015 – Behind the Lines - Alcohol, Morale & Discipline on the Western Front 1914-1918

10.00hr Leave Hotel.

10.30hr Arrive at Vancouver Corner at St Jan north east of Ypres for a visit to the Salient’s most beautiful monument, The Canadian Brooding Soldier erected to commemorate the first use of poison gas on the Western Front by the Germans in 1915. Here Siobhan will tell us what happened and its link to later gas use by the BEF at Loos later in 1915.

11.15hr Arrive at a surviving First World War brewery in Reninghelst, the St George (St Joris) Brewery (owned by Six-Colpaert in WW1. Here our guide Wim will take us round their current WW1 exhibition* and we can taste* their new 8%abv tripel brewed by nearby De Plukker, Zoetendall (Sweet Valley)and hear about the Canadians stationed here in 1915.

14.00hr Pay our first visit to the infamous Veuile Seule in Elverdinge for our pre-ordered lunch. This is a cafe which was known to BEF soldiers situated in the middle of Dirty Bucket Camp, and named after this very bar.

Siobhan will then take us on a journey behind the lines of the Ypres Salient on a unique visit which will incorporate her research on alcohol, moral and discipline in the BEF in the Ypres Salient. She will take us to estaminets which are still cafes and which existed in the First World War and explain how the BEF dealt with alcohol provision and its impact on morale and discipline. We hope to visit Den Hertog outside Poperinghe and the Heksenstoel in Loker – both of which were known to BEF soldiers.

We will round up the day with some time in Poperinge, and hear some of what went on here behind lines, from Siobhan’s study of military records recording in/discipline in the town in WW1. Evening free in Poperinghe to visit its bars, armed with Podge’s Poperinghe Bar Guide* and Map*.

late return by coach to our hotel in Kortrijk.

Monday 22 June 2015 - Ypres Salient in WW1

10.00hr Check out of Hotel Park and head off by coach to:

10.30hr Arrive at Bierhalle Deconinck in Vichte, the best beer warehouse in West Flanders for an opportunity to buy beers to take home.

11.30hr Arrive Tyne Cot CWGC for a guided tour by Siobhan to the largest WW1 cemetery in the world, and why it is here on the Passchendaele Ridge.

13.00hr We pay a visit to the newly improved Memorial Museum Passchendaele* in Zonnebeke, where Siobhan will take us round and explain why the Battle of Third Ypres took place over this spot and why it remains possibly the most controversial WW1 battle.

14.30hr Pre-arranged lunch at the Brasserie de Volksbond in Zonnebeke.

16.45hr Call in for our last stop at the beautiful Cafe ‘t Molenhof in Oostvleteren. The café has an impressive beer menu of over 120 choices and we can have a crack at their newly installed taps serving draught De Struise Brouwers beers from the brewery across the road.

19.50hr Eurotunnel train crossing from Calais.

19.30hr Arrive Folkestone.

19.40hr Coach drop Stop24 J11 M20, Kent CT21 4BL.

20.10hr Coach drop Maidstone Service Station, Junction 8, M20 Motorway, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1SS.

20.45hr Coach drop Dartford Railway Station DA1 1BP.

21.40hr Coach drop 102 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0EA.

22.15hr Coach drop Colchester.

Tour Price: £675 per person based on sharing in a twin or double room

Single Supplement: £210

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.

Included in the cost of this Tour are:

Hotel accommodation and breakfasts;

Hotel city taxes;

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 items marked with an asterisk on the individual detailed tour itinerary;

Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guides and Maps for the town where we stay or spend some time;

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.

Items marked with an asterisk on the detailed itinerary.

Travellers are responsible for the costs of all food and drink apart from items marked with an asterisk on the detailed itinerary plus all passport and insurance costs.

All itinerary times are local and approximate.

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 have any questions or would like to join us on this Tour please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677 for details on how to send a deposit of £150 per person for this Tour. The full balance is payable five weeks before departure.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.