On the trail of hops: Belgium's beer cycle route
Belgian beer is world-famous and just as popular thanks to its variety. Due to the large supply of special beers, the small country has over 1000 different types of beer, which are produced in about 100 breweries in the country. In addition to the well-known beers such as Pils and Wheat, Belgium also has specialities such as Trappist beer and Lambics. Tradition has it that in the Middle Ages beer was mainly brewed in monasteries. This was only slowly transferred to commercial breweries around 1900. Compared to Germany, Belgium does not brew strictly according to the purity law. For this reason, not only hops, malt and water are used for production, but also ingredients such as fruit, herbs or honey. There are many things to discover about the beer production process in Belgium. In the Poperinge region, the beer cycle route takes past the region's hotspots.
The capital of hops
The city of Poperinge is regarded as the secret capital of hops, as the region is home to a particularly large variety of hops. This is also where the Poperinge Vleteren beer route starts, which runs 33 kilometres through the region and connects the highlights of the hop region.
The beer cycle route Poperinge Vleteren
The Beer Bicycle Route starts at the Hop Museum and leads to three different breweries, three hop farmers and numerous cosy bars offering the beers of the Westhoek region. An overview of the route shows the beer hotspots in the Poperinge region.
The Hop Museum
The route begins in the heart of Poperinge with the Hop Museum. There the hops were once weighed, tested and stored. In the museum visitors learn everything worth knowing about the history of hop growing, the work in the fields, the harvest as well as the different uses of hops. Beer fans will also find a special selection of 2200 of the finest Belgian beers. The museum can be explored individually thanks to audio guides. Further information.
Bars in Poperinge
Right next to the museum is the cosy Stadsschaal bar. Beers from the region are offered here, which can be enjoyed on sunny days on the terrace overlooking the museum. The Romanhof Bar, on the outskirts of Poperinge, also offers guests snacks, culinary delights and regional beers for a short stopover.
The hop farm Ter Schoudemonthoek/Belhop
The hop farm is the next stop on the route and has been family-owned for five generations. Currently it is being extended by the hop farmer Bart. Thanks to the mild climate and the typical sandy loam in Poperinge, hops have a unique variety of flavours that are decisive for the region's beers.
In 2018, the rooftop bar Bernard opened in the new wing of the brewery, offering guests a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding area. By appointment, the brewery offers guided tours in English, French and Dutch to inform visitors in detail about brewing.
Leroy Brewery - Watou site
The next stop on the cycle route is the Leroy brewery founded in 1820. This is where the famous Poperinge Hommelbeer is brewed. Hommel means hop in dialect. The brewery is also known for Kapittel Blond, a double fermented beer, and Watou's Wit, a wheat beer. This brewery can also be visited by appointment.
After the tour of the brewery, you can visit the Father's Table. Guests enjoy regional and seasonal dishes, which are always freshly prepared. Located in the idyllic village of Watou, the restaurant is the place to go for fans of traditional Belgian cuisine.
The next farm on the route is located in the heart of Provens and has belonged to the Desmyter family since 1893. The latest cultivation methods make it possible to cultivate almost 10 hectares. Visits to the farm are also possible by appointment.
Connoisseurs from all over the world travel to the tranquil village of Vleteren, known for the best beer in the world. The brewery itself is unfortunately not open to visitors. Nevertheless, it is worth stopping at the pub in de Vrede. There, the famous dark strong beer Trappist Westvleteren is served and Paterskaas, regional cheese, is eaten.
Hop farm Lemahieu
The last farm of the route not only informs about the use of hops for beer production. Here the focus is on the holistic use of hops and also the medical application is presented.
The highlight of the route is a stop in the woods around Sint-Sixtusbossen and De Lovie Castle Demesne. There is the restaurant `T Jagershof. Guests will find a snack as well as authentic regional games.
The Romantik Hotel Manoir Ogygia welcomes its guests in comfortable rooms in the unique Hoppeland in the Poperinge Palace Park. The charm of the renovated 19th century manor house enchants and offers an authentic atmosphere. In the hotel's own restaurant, the chef spoils guests mainly with specialities from regional products such as hops, Watou cheese, Hommel beer and fresh fish from the North Sea.