Day 3 • The Jeremy Inspired Route to Watou.
A short trip to De Dolle [x] finds the brewery closed! The brewer, Kris arrives to let us know he will open at 2:00. While looking around, disappointed that we couldn't wait for the opening, he finally has pity on us and allows us to buy some beer and a glass. For reasons we still don't understand, he was moving 5 gal containers of fuel from the brewery to the house. With our six pack and two anniversary beers in hand, we head to Yepes.
We began to walk around the cloth hall, but it is far too cold and windy, so we duck into the visitor center to learn about the area. It's an interesting city surrounded by many WWI cemeteries for soldiers of many nations and is also the site of the Flanders Fields Museum. Leaving town past the Rijselpoort, a massive fortified gate from the Burgundian period, we note the old ramparts and the British Cemetery. We drive through Poperinge, the hops growing region, reminding me of the Yakima valley in Washington state supplier of most of our hops... Cascade for example.
Finally, we find Watou and head to the B&B and finding no one around, we seek out Noels beer shop [x] as recommended by Jeremy Gray. We find Noel who tells us that he opens at 2:00. So, being time to quaff one, we seek De Bie [x]... not easy! After a short stop for lunch at the wrong, very cold tavern, we finally find the brewery. Although very small, d' Hellekapelle at Stoppelweg 26, was very warm and the beers quite good. After sampling all their wares, we go back to Noel's where we find too much good beer... is this the start of a bad thing?
After loading our booty, we return to the B&B and are greeted by Mevr. Claus-Deconinck, the owner, who claims to remember Jeremy. Her father was the brewer, but now her husband, Guy Claus, is now in charge. She is quite charming and offering us our choice of St Bernardus beer, we each have a 12¼ for starters to complement our bacon wrapped dates.
For dinner we head back to Watou encountering the hop guy on the way to 't Hommelhof [x]. No rabbit tonight, but a fine meal none the less. After trying to knock down the saints by leaning against the piece of furniture next to me, we meet chef Stephan and his wife. They also claim to remember Jeremy and driving him back to the B&B... Jeremy must have made quite an impression in the area!
When we return, I meet with Malcolm, an Englishman living in Holland. He has come with others in his company, equipped with two vans, to buy beer at Westvleteren. His company installs high-end audio-visual systems, which we discuss at length while consuming more St. Bernardus before finally heading off to bed around 1:00am.