NEW! Podge Beer Tours Schedule

Hi!
I hope you are well. We look forward to seeing some of you at Chelmsford Summer Beer Festival which takes place in Admiral’s Park from 15-19 July 2014. Below is the latest on our beer Tours, including some new and interesting themed Tours for Spring and Summer 2015.

TOUR 72 HOPS & POPS – Thursday 18 September – Monday 22 September 2014
This five day tour is based around the Poperinge area (‘Pops’ to First World War British soldiers). This region is justly famous for its hops. We will focus on the hop plant and explore its relationship with beer in the Westhoek, staying at the friendly Oude Abdij Hotel in Lo-Reninge. This Tour coincides with the famous Poperinge Bier- en Hoppefeesten which runs every third year. For the first time Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours will be taking in this festival of all things hoppy. We have arranged visits to several different hop farms including the Hoppecruyt Hop Farm in Proven where we will have a guided tour* of the farm at harvest time and a unique opportunity to taste five different beers* each brewed using a different hop variety grown on this farm. We will have a tour* of the organic hop farm Plukker and a taste of the beer* made with their hops at the farm brewery. We hope to call in at the artisanal chocolate makers Zokola in Proven to have a taste and opportunity to buy their Hop Chocolates “Hommeknopjes” made with local Van Eecke Tripel Watou beer and hops. We plan a tour* and beer tasting* at the Van Eecke Brewery in Watou and also in this brewers village we will have a beer cuisine meal at the world famous Restaurant Hommelhof. Plans are afoot for a visit to St Bernardus also in Watou for a tour* of their brewery and their new hop field, plus a beer tasting* and a substantial beer gift to take home*. There will be some free time in Poperinge for the festival and hop parade and we may even fit in a game of boltra. Visits are also planned to the spectacular Poperinge Hop Museum for an expert guided tour* with the secretary of the museum, our friend Bertin Deneire, followed by a glass of Hommelbier*.

The price of this five-day Tour is £470 per person based on sharing a twin or double room with a single supplement of £140 if you want a room of your own. If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller, please contact Podge as we are often able to pair up travellers in a twin room to avoid the need to pay the single supplement. If you are interested in this Tour please contact me now as the is in high demand and will sell out quickly. You can secure a place by sending a £100 deposit.
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TOUR 73 BEER & BATTLEFIELDS CENTENARY – Thursday 23 October – Tuesday 28 October 2014
SOLD OUT! See website Beer & Battlefields Centenary Tour for further details.

TOUR 74 – CHRISTMAS IN BRUGES – Monday 22 December – Friday 26 December 2014
We are once again running our popular Christmas Tour to Bruges and beyond. This five day tour will be based at the four star Hotel Academie near Minnewater in the centre of Bruges. For the third year running we will be visiting the excellent Emelisse Brewery just over the border in Holland for a full beer and gastronomic experience on Christmas Day. We will also be visiting other breweries and great beer cafes in the West Flanders area as well as a chance to experience the beautiful city of Bruges at this season. This Tour has sold out early in previous years, so if you would like to join us please send a deposit of £100 per person to secure a place. The price of this five-day Tour is £475 per person based on sharing a twin or double room with a single supplement of £140 if you want a room of your own. If you are travelling alone and want to share a room with another traveller, please contact Podge as we are often able to pair up travellers in a twin room to avoid the need to pay the single supplement.

TOUR 75 – FLEMISH BEER & CULTURE TOUR – Thursday 2 April – Monday 6 April 2015
This five day Tour offers a unique experience of the best of the Belgian Burgundian lifestyle (mostly beer) and traditional life in Flanders.

We are currently planning this Tour but it will take in some of Flanders finest and most traditional breweries, cafes, museums (usually with a bar attached) and other cultural sites. We are working on a full brewery tour, beer tasting and meal in the Brewery Rodenbach in Roeselare and a visit and tasting at the Genever (Flemish gin) producer and blender Graanstokerij Filliers in Deinze, We hope to visit the traditional Estaminet de Peerdevisscher bar attached to the Fishing Museum at Oosduinkerke and the de Ronde Van Vlanderen Cycle Museum in Belgium’s cycling heartland, Oudenaarde (which of course has a bar). We will be focusing on some cafes which have traditional Flemish games, including the inimitable Boltra (Flemish bowls) and others which specialise in Oud Bruin and Lambic beer styles. The tour will be based at the luxurious four star Hotel Park**** in the centre of Kortrijk. We are really pulling out all the stops with the accommodation on this Tour and this hotel is one of the best we have ever stayed at in Belgium. Recently refurbished to a luxury 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 and (on our last visit) a dedicated egg chef to cater for your individual eggy needs at breakfast. We have chosen Kortrijk as the centre for this tour as it has over the past few years become one of the top Flemish beer centres and now has five breweries surrounding the city which are Alvinne, Eutropius, Toye, Gulden Spoor and Gaverhopke. The city centre is compact and great for walking, and all bars on Podge’s Kortrijk Bar Guide are within easy walking distance of our hotel which is opposite the station. There are loads of great cafes in town including eight or nine stand-out bars with weighty beer menus plus our new favourite bar in Belgium, the Boulevard with 120 beers, friendly owners, a relaxed candlelit interior and great food. Kortrijk is famous for being the site of the Battle of the Golden Spurs (1302) and a giant golden spur sticking into the ground marks the spot in a park in the town centre. The attractive and quirky Belfry clock tower on the market square and the beginhof are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you have never visited Kortrijk this tour is your ideal opportunity to join us – we loved Kortrijk so much on our last research trip we can’t wait to get back! The price for this Tour will be issued later in 2014, but if you would like to register your interest in this Tour, please email Podge.

TOUR 76 – LAMBICLAND & TOER DE GEUZE – Friday 1 May – Tuesday 5 May 2015
This Tour is designed for those who love Belgium’s Lambic beers and takes in the superb bi-annual lambic day, the Toer de Geuze. Over the five days of the Tour we aim to visit all of Belgium’s lambic brewers and blenders and the best of the specialised lambic cafes of LambicLand. By popular demand this Tour is based at the newly refurbished four star Hotel Keizershof in the centre of Aalst. We will also visit the Lambic Visitors Centre De Lambiek in Beersel (Alsemberg). There will be meals at the superb de Heeren van Liedekercke and Café-Restaurant 3 Fonteinen in Beersel, plus calling in at specialist lambic cafe In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst. The price for this Tour will be issued later in 2014, but if you would like to register your interest in this Tour, please email Podge.

TOUR 77 – 1815–1915 BEER & BATTLEFIELD CENTENARY TOUR – Waterloo & Loos – 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”. We hope to visit 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. We hope to see part of the battle re-enacted, also go amongst the military camp and open bivouacs, and also see the newly restored Hougoumont farm. We also hope to take in the evening sound and light show.

We will also be visiting some of the 1915 First World War battle sites, particularly the little known Battle of Loos 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. We will visit Dud Corner CWGC Cemetery and 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 McGinn 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. We will hear about the battle of Loos, how it formed part of the costly learning process on the Western Front and why it has been overshadowed by the later Somme and Passchendaele battles. We will also visit sites associated with other 1915 battles on the Western Front including the Second Battle of Ypres and the first use of poison gas on the Western Front.

The price for this Tour will be issued later in 2014, but if you would like to register your interest in this Tour, please email Podge.

TOUR 78 – TRAINS & BOATS & INCLINED PLANES – Thursday 27 August – Monday 31 August 2015
We are really pleased to announce this new Tour based in downtown Ghent and staying at the fantastic Novotel Gent Centrum. As many of you will know Ghent is one of the top beer destinations anywhere in Europe and we have been working on getting back here for some time. On this Tour we will be focusing on beer and transport. We are hoping to take a 14 kilometre steam train ride on the Dendermonde-Puurs line, a voyage on the Ronquières inclined plane on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal, an evening cruise through the historic city of Ghent and a pub crawl of the entire 68 kilometre coastal length of Belgium by tram. There will be visits to breweries both old and new, plus plenty of opportunities to enjoy top quality food and the best beer in the world which this Tour will help you to discover.

The price for this Tour will be issued later in 2014, but if you would like to register your interested in this Tour, please email Podge.

Included in the cost of our Tours are:
Hotel accommodation and breakfasts.
All local tourist taxes
Luxury coach travel on a 49+ seater coach with toilet.
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.
All Brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings.
Entrance fees to all group attractions, museums and historical sites.
All items marked with an asterisk on individual detailed tour itinerary.
Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guide & Map for the town or city where we stay or spend some time on Tour.
Free still and sparkling water on the coach.

Personal insurance is not included 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 on any of the above tours or if you need more information please contact Podge on 01245 354677 or email podgehome@blueyonder.co.uk. Places are limited to the number of rooms booked, so book early to avoid disappointment.

CHEERS! Podge
Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours
Driving people to drink since 1994
http://www.podgebeer.co.uk
01245 354677

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