Watou is situated in the hop growing region which stretches from the Channel ports to the town of Ypres. The village is well known for beer brewing and has a statue of an unknown brewer in the main square. One of its breweries is the family concern of Van Eecke which began life in 1642 as the estate brewery of a local chateau. Today it is well known as the producer of Poperings Hommel Bier.
The town of Poperinge is the capital of the hop growing region; the hops are known locally as Hommel (from the botanical name Humulus). Confusingly, it also means bumble bee in Flemish. The local hops (especially Brewers Gold and Hallertau) used in the beer give it a nice refreshing bitterness and dry aftertaste.
There is no connection to bees although some tasters have noted a faintly honeyish yeast character (word association?); try as I could, I couldn’t locate it.
Hommel bier pours an attractive golden bronze colour and the hops are immediately apparent. They give the beer not only a good bitterness but an orangey zest in the taste and the dry aftertaste, which is not unlike cumin or mild paprika.
With a well hidden 7,5% alc.vol this is a well made and very drinkable beer; lightly chillled the 25cl bottle makes a good aperitif.
Happy beer drinking !