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2001 Poperinge

Travellers

Paul, Ray, Terry, Trevor, Frank, Martin, John and Vince

Objective

Visit Karakter-Bierfestival.

Keywords

Karakter-Bierfestival, Les 3 Brasseurs, Palace Hotel, Café de la Paix, Vismarkt, Vooruit, Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Dreupelkot.

Comments

Poperinge, in West Flanders, is the centre of Belgium’s main hop growing region and the Palace Hotel home to the Karakter-Bierfestival.

Friday

After gathering at The Hole in the Wall (Waterloo) we caught the 12.27 Eurostar to Lille, where we had to change stations from Lille Europe to Lille Flanders. Making use of the wait between trains we enjoyed a jug or two of the blonde (5.2% ABV and somewhat perfumed) at Les 3 Brasseurs (Place de la Gare 22) directly opposite the station. Another change of trains at Kortrijk required another bar visit, before eventually arriving at Poperinge mid evening. The station is on the outskirts of the town and we had no idea which way to go until a friendly bar owner provided some Hoegaarden and directions.

We booked into our rooms at the Palace Hotel (Ieperstraat 34) and were warmly welcomed by our hosts Guy (pronounced Gee) and Beatrijs-Beernaert. Once settled in, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter gave us a tour of the theatre, including stage, located at the back of the hotel and where the beer festival was being held.

It was then time for a tour of the town centre, to get our bearings, and a few beers.

There are a few places worth a visit. First and foremost is The Palace Hotel itself. With a beer list of around 100 and at least Kerelsbier and Hommel on tap there is plenty to chose from.

The Café de la Paix (Grote Markt 20) on the main square has a comparable beer list (around 100) with Hommel, Wit and various other guests beers on tap. Open till 1.00 am it is just the place for a Genever before the final session at The Palace.

Off the main square Vismarkt (Burg-Bertenplein 1) offers a small but enjoyable range of beers including Ename, Duchesse, Hommel, Echte Kriek and Kerelsbier.

There are numerous other bars but most offer nothing more than Jupiler on draught plus a few of the better known bottled beers.

Saturday

As the festival did not start until the evening we went to Gent for the day. Walking into the centre from Gent Sint-Pieters we tried the Vooruit (Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat) where we meet up with Vince, a friend from Wednesday football then working in Belgium. The Vooruit was built as the headquarters for a trade organisation and now houses a café in the lobby and some most impressive loos. Little beer choice but did have De Koninck on draught.

After lunch we moved onto our favourite Gent bar – the Waterhuis aan de Bierkant – where we had the upstairs room to ourselves. As usual there was an excellent choice of draught beers to keep us happy. We left just enough time for a quick little boy’s Genever at the Dreupelkot next door before our train back to Poperinge.

The festival had about a dozen stalls from small breweries including Achilles, Van Eecke, Bosteels and Verhaeghe with some sixty different beers. Unfortunately, no one kept the beer list and the only beer which sticks in the memory is the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a sour Flemish old ale which hardly slipped down nicely.

The festival was well attended with visitors from as far away as the USA. The tombola was also well organised but swiftly ran out of prizes with only those who did not go for a meal first faring well. Mention must be made (says Tel) of the indescribably appalling behaviour of certain prize winners who set aside the still and seductive ambience of the restaurant, leaping and cavorting with staggering gait and making off with diners’ pommes frittes.

Some left the festival for a bar on the square’s Halloween party but the majority stayed at The Palace until the close.

Sunday

Time for a break from beer and after the Poperinge town walk (and the man videoing his feet) a visit to Ieper. Completely flattened in the First World War, the Stadhuis was rebuilt and now houses the ‘In Flanders Fields’ Museum which a few of the group visited. A visit to the Menen Gate was followed by a walk around the Ramparts where some small Commonwealth cemeteries are located before a quick coffee (!) and the train back to Poperinge and the festival.

After a few beers the group needed something to eat (preferably a big lump of meat) and the hotel on the main square proved to be a good choice. A final walk around the town and few Genevers in the Café de la Paix finished the day for most although some (well one) could still be seen in The Palace Hotel bar at 4.00 in the morning enjoying a few free beers and waxing lyrical on bollocks with his new found friends.

Monday

An early start gave us time for a few beers at Les 3 Brasseures before the Eurostar from Lille and home.

Created on 01/22/2006 04:09 PM by drinking
Updated on 01/22/2006 04:14 PM by drinking
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