Brewery: De Plukker
Back in 2011 organic hop farmer Joris Cambie and brewer Kris Langouche decided to join forces. The Cambie family had been growing hops in the Poperinge fields for several generations by then and switched over to organic farming in 1997. Ample justification for Joris and Kris to launch a traditional-style brewery together on the basis of Joris’ hopmaking business.
This signalled the start of De Plukker and its unique story. This is the only hop company in Belgium with its own brewery, one where all the beers are made using only the farm’s hops. All the beverages are therefore organically certified.
In 2010, the brewery was installed inside the premises of the hop farm, in a hangar that was previously used for the picking and drying of the hops. The old kilns were taken down and replaced with brewing kettles and stainless steels fermenters. The inside of the hangar was completely rebuild to meet the food safety regulations.
After completing the necessary paperwork to startup a brewery, they could brew their first batch in their own brewery on November 9, 2011.
In the beginning the capacity of the brewhouse was 450 liters. Step by step this volume was increased to 750 liters per brew with the same kettles. Meanwhile new kettles have been added and the current capacity is now 1000 liters per batch.
In 2016 they acquired an automatic bottling line. Bottling was done by hand up till then. This was a big step forward in their development as it allowed them to bottle bigger volumes faster. It also increased the shelf-life of beers as there was no longer contact between beer and oxygen while bottling.
Since the 7th century Poperinge had been subject to the abbey of St. Bertin in the town of Saint-Omer in northern France. St. Bertin's abbot had the Count of Flanders issue a town charter in 1147. The town, then as big as nearby Kortrijk and Ieper, was busy buying English wool and making things with it, as well as growing flax and making linens. In that era, three gothic churches were built in Poperinge, demonstrating the prosperity at the time.
However in 1322 the new Count of Flanders banned the production of cloth outside a radius of three hours walk from the centre of Ieper. The Poperingers revolted, earning them the nickname Keikoppen, meaning cobblestone heads, for their stubbornness. It also sparked enmity between the two cities which lasts to this day, albeit in a less intense way.
To compensate the people of Poperinge for the loss of their lucrative trade, they received the license to grow hops, which they would supply to Saint-Omer and its dependencies for the making of beer. The hop fields are still here today, all over the landscape around Poperinge.
Cloth was never mentioned again around Poperinge, because you can't use it to make beer...
ABV : 6.1 %
VOL : 33 cl
IBU : 30
T ° : 6°C
Anecdote: This was the first beer developed by the brewery, referring to the nickname of the inhabitants of Poperinge (see History).
Eye: deep gold beer; firm white head.
Aroma: fresh, hoppy nose (citrus & grapefruit), a little grassy and spicy.
Taste: dry and fresh-fruity at first, again some grassy notes, fairly full malt and yeast flavors in the mouth, soft bitterness.
ABV : 6.5 %
VOL : 33 cl
IBU : 20
T ° : 6 °C
Anecdote: brown, top-fermented ale formerly brewed by the St.-Joris brewery in the village of Reningelst until 1963
Eye: dark brown beer, beige head.
Aroma: fruity yeast and hop aroma's in the nose, some roasted malts.
Taste: surprisingly fresh & dry, hoppy with a creamy mouthfeel, roasted malts, some chocolate.
ABV : 7.5 %
VOL : 33 cl
IBU : 19
T ° : 6°C
Anecdote: a blond top-fermented beer that's brewed with only one hop variety.
Eye: orange coloured beer; fine white head.
Aroma: malty nose with hints of ripe exotic fruit (banana) and yeast.
Taste: fresh-sweet start; full flavours with ripe fruit (banana), malt and yeast, soft finish with some bitterness.
ABV : 5.9 %
VOL : 33 cl
IBU : 13
T ° : 6 °C
Anecdote: Kasteel Beauvoorde was created in co-operation with Frambiosa y besos and the Castle of Beauvoorde.
Eye: blond beer with pink glow, fine white head.
Aroma: grains, soft herbs, a bit of red fruit, a little sourness (due to the wheat malt).
Taste: fresh and quite dry in the start; grains; red fruit (raspberry).
Additional Info About Brewery
The brewery is open on Saturday afternoon from 14h00 until 17h00 (except on public holidays). In the tasting room you can sample the beers and visit the brewery shop is open.
From April until September they organize a guided tour for individuals or small groups on the first Saturday of the month at 15h00. This tour is only available in Dutch.
Check Events page to see the upcoming tour dates – https://www.plukker.be/en/events/
Overview and duration
· The tour starts in the brewery tasting room. While you are sampling a Keikoppenbier the guide will tell you all about the history of the hop farm and how they started their own brewery on it.
· Next they take you to the hop field to teach you everything you need to know about hops and how to grow them.
· After that you get a tour through the brewery during where you will see all the aspects of the production process.
· The tour ends with a second sample of one of the beers.
The duration of the tour varies from 1,5 to 2 hours according to the size of the group.
The brewery is located on the Elverdingseweg 14a, in the shed next to the hop field.
Prices – € 7,00 per person.
Reservations are not necessary.