Beers and Battlefields of Flanders Tour
(Four day tour)
When the British Expeditionary Force fell back into Flanders and concentrated on the town of Ypres in October 1914 little did they know that they were in the heart of some of the best hop growing land in Belgium. And we all know what hops make….. BEER!
The British Tommy sampled the many local brews and was not too impressed; after all, it was really nothing like British ale of the time. They opted to mainly drink ‘Vin Blanc’ with the newly created dish of ‘Egg and Chips’ and use the vats from the breweries to bathe in upon returning from the front. However over the years our palates have become so much more sophisticated and Belgium has become one of the capitals for beer drinkers with well over 800 different brews. You really owe it to yourself to try them all (but not in one sitting!).
With this in mind, Rifleman Tours has put together a tour whereby we will set about tasting some of the many distinguished beers of the Flanders / Ypres region, with visits to some breweries to see how the beer is created. As this is also a World War One battlefield tour, we will visit the battlefields where the Commonwealth troops fought so gallantly between 1914 and 1918.
Staying in the centre of Ypres, you will be able to visit a selection of bars including the Brasserie Kazematten, located in the Ramparts of Ypres. Here the ‘Wipers Times’ trench newspaper was printed and you can sample a beer of the same name brewed in its honour.
Day One: Depart by coach from your chosen UK collection point and proceed to Dover for our channel crossing by ferry and then on to Ypres to check in to the Novotel Ieper Centrum ‘Flanders Fields’ (located in the centre of Ypres). With the rest of the day at your leisure, you can with the aid of our ‘Bars of Ypres’ programme begin tasting the nectar of Flanders and obtain an evening meal from one of the many restaurants situated around the famous Grote Markt before taking a short time out to visit the Menin Gate and the witnessing the Last Post Ceremony.
Day Two: We begin our tour with a visit to Zandvoorde and the Household Cavalry Memorial which commemorates the stand of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and one officer in particularly; Lord Worsley (Lt Charles Pelham). We then return to Gheluvelt where the 2nd Worcesters’ bayonet charge restored the line at a crucial time during First Ypres. Our first Brewery visit is the Bockor Brewery for a tour and taste (tour included in the price). Beer has been brewed here since 1892. Lunch is taken at the Hooge Crater Café (lunch is included in price). A choice of beers can be enjoyed here. The afternoon will see us visit the Passchendaele Museum (entrance included in price) before Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth Cemetery in the world. From here we move along the ridge to the Canadian Memorial at Crest Farm before winding up the day at the Passchendaele Pub to sample the local beer.
Day Three: The morning sees us touring the northern half of the Ypres Salient and Vancouver Corner with the Brooding Soldier Memorial to the 1st Canadian Division. This area was the scene of the first gas attacks in 1915 which culminated in the start of the Second Battle of Ypres. Then we travel on to the German Cemetery at Langemark before winding our way to Essex Farm Cemetery with its Advanced Dressing Station. Here John McCrae wrote the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. We then visit the local Brewery Van Eecke. Situated at Watou near Poperinge, beer has been brewed here since the mid sixteen hundreds. It now brews the famous Hommelbier. Lunch can be taken in the town of Poperinge with its many bars, all serving local cuisine and beer. A trip to the Hop Museum and Talbot House during the afternoon brings this day to an end (entrance fees to both are included in the price).
Day Four: We end the battlefield tour at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery and visitor centre before moving onto the St Bernadus Brewery. The history of this brewery is connected to two Trappist monasteries; one gave us its name, the other gave its beer, exchange is no robbery! Here you will get a tour of the brewery (tour included in the price) and a tasting session of the beers produced. A bite to eat before we leave can be taken in the brewery café. We then depart for Calais and our return ferry, but with time permitting, one final stop on the way at Pidou beer and wine outlet before the crossing.