By Alan Hope
Poperinge is famous for two things: firstly for the respite offered to fighting men during the horrors of World War I, whether at Talbot House or the many bars and brothels which Pop — as the Tommies called it — provided; and secondly for its hops. Poperinge is the centre of hop-growing not only for Belgium but for the whole north-western corner of continental Europe.
Hops are a fascinating plant — cousin to cannabis, trained by human hand to grow six metres into the air. But the most fascinating thing about the Poperinge hops industry is that it all came about by accident. Or rather, nobody wanted to grow hops here until it was forced on them.
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