Belgian beer is world-famous and equally popular, especially thanks to its diversity. Due to the large range of speciality beers, the small country has over 1000 different types of beer produced in the approximately 100 breweries in the country. In addition to the well-known types of beer such as Pils or Weizen, Belgium also has specialities such as Trappist beer and Lambics. According to tradition, beer was brewed mainly in monasteries in the Middle Ages. 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 is a lot to discover in Belgium about the process of beer making. In the Poperinge region, the Beer Cycle Route takes you past the region's hotspots.
The city of Poperinge is considered the secret capital of hops, as a particularly large variety of hops grows in the region. This is also where the Poperinge Vleteren beer route starts, which runs for 33 kilometres through the region and connects the highlights of the hop region.
The Beer Cycle Route starts at the Hop Museum and leads to three different breweries, three hop farmers and numerous cosy bars serving the beers of the Westhoek region. An overview of the route shows the beer hotspots in the Poperinge region.
The route starts in the heart of Poperinge with the Hop Museum. This is where hops were once weighed, tested and stored. In the museum, visitors can learn all about the history of hop growing, the work in the fields, the harvest and the various uses of hops. Beer fans will also find a special selection of 2200 finest Belgian beers. Thanks to audio guides, the museum can be explored individually. More information HERE.
Right next to the museum is the cosy bar Stadsschaal. It offers beers from the region, which can be enjoyed on sunny days on the terrace with a view of 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 is the next stop on the route and has been in the family for five generations. It is currently being expanded by the hop farmer Bart. Thanks to the mild climate and the sandy loam so typical of Poperinge, the hops have a unique variety of flavours that are decisive for the beers of the region.
In 2018, the Bernard rooftop bar opened in the brewery's new wing, offering guests a great panoramic view of the surrounding area. By appointment, the brewery offers guided tours in English, French as well as Dutch, providing visitors with detailed information about the brewing process.
The next stop on the cycle route is the Leroy Brewery, which was founded in 1820. Here, mainly the well-known Poperinge Hommel beer is brewed. Hommel means hop in dialect. The brewery is also known for the beer Kapittel Blond, a double fermented beer, and Watou's Wit, a wheat beer. This brewery can also be visited by appointment.
The brewery tour is followed by a visit to the Paterstafel. Guests enjoy regional as well as seasonal dishes here, 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 Provence and has been owned by the Desmyter family since 1893. The latest cultivation methods make it possible to cultivate the 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. Unfortunately, the brewery itself is not open to visitors. Nevertheless, a stop at the pub in de Vrede is worthwhile. There, the famous dark strong beer Trappist Westvleteren is served as well as Paterskaas, regional cheese.
The last farm on the route not only provides information about the use of hops for beer production. Here the focus is on the holistic use of hops and medicinal applications are also presented.
The crowning glory of the route is a stop in the woods around the Sint-Sixtusbossen and De Lovie Castle Demesne. There you will find the restaurant 'T Jagershof. Guests will find authentic regional games as well as a snack here.
About 50 km away from Poperinge, the Romantik Hotel Manoir Carpe Diem in Den Haan welcomes its guests in comfortable rooms. The charm of the country villa enchants and offers an authentic atmosphere as well as opportunities for swimming on the nearby beach.