Brugge, Oudenaarde, Poperinge, Kortrijk
Friday, November 8th had a bit of a slow start, mostly owing to the two or three late night beers many of us enjoyed at Le Trappiste in Brugge. But, it was worth it.
After a fine breakfast at Martins Relais Oud Huis Amsterdam, we boarded the coach and headed out. Our destination: Oudenaarde. It did take a while to get out of town owing to the small streets of Brugge and the large bus.
We first visited the “Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen” which is the Tour of Flanders cycling center. Next up was Town Hall and Belfry, dating to between 1525 and 1536, which houses an interesting museum of the city. This “Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes” opened in March 2012, and has a lot of historical artifacts as well as many tapestries dating to the Middle Ages. For more info on Oudenaarde, see here.
The next stop was Margaretha’s, a classy restaurant/coffee/wine bar walking distance from the Town Hall. Here, we enjoyed our first beer of the day, an Adriaen Brouwer from the local Brouwerij Roman, in posh surroundings. Carlo Roman, the Managing Director of the brewery, gave a talk about his brewery’s beers, and we then sat down for lunch.
The multi-course meal featured soup, seafood, veggies, steak, potatoes and a scrumptious dessert with chocolate heavily featured.
Yes, I loved it.
Next, we began the journey from East Flanders to Belgium’s main hop-growing region and city: Poperinge. Our next stop was ‘t Hoppecruyt, a hop farm a few km outside the town. While I have visited other hop farms in the area, I had never been to Hoppecruyt, and it was a real pleasure. We first tasted a new beer in the tasting room of the farm, from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck, called Passchendaele. After that, we were invited by the owners, Wout and Benedikte Desmyter-Coutigny, to take a little tour.
The buildings housing the hop-picking and processing equipment were very interesting to see, as were the compressed bags of hops. Some were pelletized and others, hop flowers, Benedikte told us.
The hop trellises were of course, barren, as the harvest takes places in early to mid-September. Wout and Benedikte also raise cattle, and also have a fully equipped guest house that can accommodate six people, and can be rented for a weekend, a few days, or longer. There is even a sauna in the garden of the house! Sounds like a great way to spend some time in the Hoppeland.