Tag Archives: beer

Mijn platte land

Saturday. Leave London 0730; on the Eurotunnel shuttle at 0950. In Calais, roll round to Majestic Wine, who pay for your Eurotunnel ticket if you have ordered £300 worth of wines.

Then east on the E40 towards Dunkirk, then south on the E42 towards Steenvoorde. On to the minor roads east and north-east. Surrounded by hop fields, you can see what Jacques Brel meant about “Mijn platte land, mijn Vlaanderland” [“My flat country, my Flanders“] in Marieke and “Mijn vlakke land/Le Plat Pays“. Good country for these things, though, and for more conventional pedal-powered vehicles.

On to the lovely little town of Poperinge for a splendid lunch at the outdoor tables of the Hotel Amfora. Hops with several of the dishes, including the eel, and a chance to try the grey shrimps, perhaps caught by mounted shrimp fishermen. An excellent range of beers for lunch, including the very refreshing Poperings Hommel Bier.

A short distance to the north is the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus, home of the Westvleteren Brewery. If you’ve been lucky enough to be allowed to order some of their beer, you turn up at the appointed time and get your two crates, while looking disapprovingly at those who have not booked and are begging to be allowed to buy. They are turned away empty-handed but they — and you — can enjoy a glass of the beer at the café across the road.

Then back through Poperinge and, en route to the E42, a stop at Noel Cuvelier’s beer shop, which is just as it is described here. A phenomenal range, amazing value and lots of glasses. Fill any remaining space in your car, then head for Calais; back in London in less than twelve hours.

Waterways? The road crosses some ….

Tourism and beer

According to Padraig Cribben of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland [which seems to include the brewers of the beers we don’t drink],

[…] the latest figures I have seen show that 35% of foreign tourists do not move outside Dublin. That creates a massive challenge. That challenge is being addressed, initially through the Wild Atlantic Way, but even if one looks at the figures for that, my understanding is that while it was very successful last year, two thirds of all visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way were domestic visitors. There is still a great deal of scope there and it will pay more dividends over time.

There is an initiative due to happen in 2015 which is being broadly termed “south and east” and involves a trail from the Boyne Valley through to the heritage centres in the south east. In 2016 or thereabouts, a whole waterways section will relate to the Shannon and the canals to increase the dispersal.

Jolly good, but why is the drinks industry announcing this? Whose initiatives are these? Who else is involved? More info and links welcome, please.

By the way, Mr Cribben also said

The other point to make is that the Irish pub is unique. It is not just unique here, it has been replicated around the world.

I’m still trying to work out what “unique” means there.

Folk seeking interesting Irish beer should start with the Beoir directories.


Drinking beer to enjoy it would be a Bad Thing. Drink it instead to boost your creativity. This is in the Medical Daily so it must be true.

Essential waterways information

Russian Imperial Stout, 7.0%

German Doppelbock 7.5%

American Pale Ale 7.5%

All in 75 cl bottles. All from the White Gypsy Brewery in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

I found some today in Kellers off-licence in Nenagh. Their stock is now somewhat smaller than it was.


This week’s big shout out …

… [I do hope I’m using the idiom correctly: I gather it’s the latest phrase the young folk use to applaud some worthy person or initiative] for Ian Jack in the Grauniad, for his piece on Huddersfield, where one pushes one’s boat through canals broad and narrow. whereof there is much to be learned (and fine things to be seen) on the Pennine Waterways website.

Stalybridge, mentioned in the article, is where “It’s a long way to Tipperary” was composed and first sung.