This past sunday, HIM and I got to joined 2 other couples (William of Hopnieuws along with Breandán & Elisa of Belgian Smaak) on one of Jan’s Belgian Beer Tours!
Belgian Beer Tours is a small, family run, fully licensed tour operator in Dranouter (a small village in West-Flanders near the French border) offering tours in English. These day trips offer great insight into the role that Flanders Fields played during World War 1 while also providing the opportunity to taste some of the local well-known beers!
They provide 2 different tours over weekends:
1. Hops & Poppies: Discover the battlefields around Ypres and the hopfields around Poperinge on Saturdays
2. Trenches & Trappists: Discover the trenches of the Salient, and try a trappist beer in Westvleteren on Sundays
Both tours start at 10h30am and end at 18h30pm and include collection/return drop off at Ypres Station, a full days tour in an air-conditioned minibus, lunch & more than 1 beer :). At a completely reasonable price of 50€ per person!
How easy is to get from Brussels to Ypres Station? SUPER easy!! There is a direct train that takes just under 2hours departing from Midi station! (We took the 08h36 IC train there & the 19h39 IC train back in the evening).
So what did we get up to on the Sunday Trenches & Trappist Tour?
In the Morning – the Trenches portion
- We started off at the Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McRae wrote his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’
- Then we grabbed a beer at Bar/Hairdresser combo (not normally included in the tour – but considered a Plan B if the weather isn’t great!) – yes people, you can get your hair cut, while you drink your beer and play cards… multi-tasking at it’s best! (it takes “honey, I am off to the hairdressers” to a whole new level!)
- We meandered through the Trench of Death, which played a key role in the 1st Battle of Ypres (and the weather played along – giving us deep ominous clouds that hang low, making the green fields even more vivid and the impact of where we were, so much more sobering)
- and paid homage to the statues of the Grieving Parents, which is a war memorial by German artist Käthe Kollwitz at the Vladslo German War Cemetry (I have to confess that this memorial site hit me the most …. not sure if it was because it contains more than 25,000 soldiers with each stone representing a group of them – or because the headstones were so understated and the surroundings were so quiet and serene – whatever the case – It left me deep in thought.)
Then the afternoon was all about the Trappist Beer!
- A full brewery tour (in English) at De Dolle Brouwers, “mad” brewing pioneers of the Belgian Beer revival – where the brewer is not only into beer – but loves to paint as well!
- After the tour – we got to enjoy lunch in their onsite pub (a gorgeous home-made paté that I literally inhaled it was so good) and one of their beers
- And finally, we settled onto the terrace at Sint-Sixtus abbey to enjoy a Westvleteren beer while the sun started to set… (and a nibble of their cheese – something that HIM enjoyed so much that he bought a whole ROUND to take home with us!)
By the end of the day – we hugged our new friends goodbye (remembrance memorials & beer will do that) and HIM and I enjoyed the experience so much – that we are already looking into plans to go on the Saturday tour… Will we see you there?
BELGIAN BEER TOURS
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via their website
More photos of the day can be found on our facebook page