Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours

Tour 88 / The Hop Harvest Tour

Thursday 14 September – Monday 18 September 2017

This is a harvest festival tour with a difference. It’s based at the Hotel Oude Abdij in Lo-Reninge in the hop growing district of Poperinge in West Flanders. We’ll be visiting breweries who brew from local hops and we'll be tasting their beers. We visit hop farms and see the harvest coming in as well as experiencing the Beer and Hop Festival 2017 which is held in the town every three years and is a homage to the noble hop.

Hoppecruyt Hop Farm Proven 2014

Hoppecruyt Hop picking September 2014.

This Tour departs on Thursday 14 September 2017 and our coach is booked on the 09.20hrs crossing on Eurotunnel, which means a 06.15hrs pick up at our Chelmsford pick up point. The Tour returns on Monday 18 September and we are booked on the inbound Eurotunnel at 19.50hrs from Calais arriving in Dover 19.25hrs.

Here is a taster of what we have planned so far for this Tour:

Newly added to this Tour: We will call in at world-famous monastery Sint Sixtus at Westvleteren where the monks brew what is widely considered the best beer in the world. We will pay a visit to In de Vrede cafe where we can sample their world famous beers.

On the Sunday of the Tour we will spend the day in Poperinge to experience its three yearly Beer and Hop Festival. We will start with a visit to Belgium’s National Hop Museum in the centre of Poperinge, the town at the heart of the traditional Flemish hop-growing district. We are fortunate that hop expert and local author Bertin Deneire has agreed to give us a special fully guided tour* of this fascinating museum housed in a former hop store and exchange. After our tour we can relax with a tasty Van Eecke’s Poperings Hommelbier* in their museum café.

In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to see the Hop Pageant, a street parade which tells the story of the hop in all its facets. More than 1,300 people take part. Several dozen horsemen and floats interpret the life of the hop and of the the local people. Children dress up as and represent the various insects which are friends and enemies of the hop. We can also take in the outdoor Lekker Westhoeks food and drink festival on the main town square where you can taste the local produce including offerings from local breweries.

We'll have a group game of Boltra*, a traditional Flemish game which is a type of (odd) bowls in an indoor court, with an included Hommelbier* to hold in one hand whilst playing. We will pay a visit to cafe De Snoek, (The Pike) in Alveringem attached to the Museum of Thirst in the Great War housed in a First World War brewery. This superb little café is run by the lovely Francine and her team and we can have a crack at Francine’s fabulous beer list of over 150 choices.

Nice head on a Hommel Bier

A tasty Hommelbier.

We hope to organize a meal at world-famous beer cuisine restaurant Het Hommelhof run by Master Chef Stefaan Couttenye on the square at Watou.

We are planning a visit to the Hoppecruyt Hop Farm in Proven, owned and run by the Desmyter family since 1893. Here we will have a tour* of the hop farm by the owners during its busiest time of the year, hop picking season. We'll also have a special beer tasting* in their tasting room on the farm of three beers all brewed by Proef Brewery with three hop varieties from the farm, being Saphir, Spalter Select and Perle. We hope to arrange a visit to Farm Brewery Beck in Bailleul which has made Hommelpap beer since 1994. This is an unpasteurised beer made without preservatives from ingredients grown on Mr Beck’s farm, both the barley and the hops. We hope to arrange a tour of his hop fields*, the brewery* and have a taste of his beer in the farm brewery tasting room.*

We hope to visit the following West Flemish breweries:

    Brouwerij Van Eecke in Watou, the ultimate hop village, home to traditional Van Eecke brewery and big neighbour Sint Bernardus brewery. The family Van Eecke became owners of the Watou brewery by marriage in 1862 and even today are linked by marriage to the Leroy Brewery at Boezinge. Before the First World War brewer Arthur Van Eecke had ten children, all of whose names began with the letter 'A', including their son Armand van Eecke who was due to take over the brewery and who died fighting for the Belgian army in 1918 and who has a beautiful statue at Kippe.We'll have a look at this brewery and a taste of their beer*

    Eutropius Brewery who have moved to a new site in Heule. These young brewers beer portfolio includes Oscar blond, made with Cascade, Hallertau and Mittelfruh hops. Thy also brew a First World war commemoration beer called Remembrance 14-18 beer which includes Halletau, Mittelfruh and Brewers Gold hop varieties. Their mighty 10%abv Vinkenier features Cascade hops. Finally, they brew a beer called St. Tabarnak which is a collaboration between Brewery Eutropius and Canadian death metal formation Kataklysm. This beer is brewed with magnum hops. So, something to satisfy most hop-nuts then. We’ll have a brewery tour* and a taste of their beer in their tasting loft.*

    Gaverhopke Brewery in their new home at an ancient farmstead in Waregem. Bruno and Gudrun run their brewery, a café and keep small animals in this lovely location which has evidence of Stone-Age occupation. We hope to see their new brewery* in the farm and have a taste of their beer*, hopefully on the relaxing terrace, with or without the tiny pony, pig and mini-goats.

We will pop in at De Witten cafe in Fintele which is opening especially for us. This is a great new venture in an old building stocking over 100 quality beers and is a friendly little place and highly recommended. Another excellent beer cafe on our list is the excellent Het Bourgondish Kruis in Deerlijk. This is a great little beer cafe on a busy crossroads with an amazing beer list. A real treat for the beer specialist with loads of unusual and regional specialities in bottle and on draught.

Poperinge Hop Festival procession.

We'll take travellers to De Plukker Brewery and Organic Hop Fields on the outskirts of Poperinge. Here we will have a guided tour* and an explanation about the hop harvest alongside the hopfield, also a brewery tour* and a taste of one of their beers*. Their main beers are the Keikoppen (Cobblestone-head – don’t ask) a 6.1%abv blond and the lovely brown Rookop (red-head) brewed with Admiral and Golding hops at 6.5%abv.

Last, but most importantly, we always include a quality beershop visit and this time we have chosen the brilliant Bierhalle Deconinck beer warehouse in Vichte. This is the best beer warehouse/shop in West Flanders with an unmatched selection of quality beers from all over Belgium and some superb world beers too. They take credit cards.

This Tour is still being built so keep an eye on this web page for updates. If you want to join us on this Tour please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677 to find out how to pay the £110 deposit per person or if you have any questions.

Hop Hats

Hop Hats.

Tour Price: £635 per person based on sharing in a twin or double room

Single Supplement: £165

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 above and on the individual detailed tour itinerary when issued;

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 (at bus shelter outside Crown House, Crown Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 3HS (opposite NCP Car Park), 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.

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 be added to the interested list please send Podge an email or call him on +44 (0)1245 354677.

All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.

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