I’m truly saddened to hear the passing of Chris “Podge” Pollard.
Since 1994 Podge run his trips to Belgium called “Podges Belgian Beer Tours”, he co wrote several Belgian beer books, was a former Chelmsford CAMRA chairman and organised Belgian beer bars at many beer festivals. He was often seen in my local Micropub The Hop Beer Shop and his praises are always sung by everyone he met.
The first time I met Podge was at the Chappel Beer Festival. I had contacted him on the internet as I was interested in the “Around Bruges in 80 Beers” beer guide that he and Siobhan McGinn had wrote. After meeting him and seeing his pure enthusiasm for Belgian beers first hand I ended up walking away with all the beer guides in the “Around.. in 80 Beers” series (at a very generous group discount too). These books that Podge and Siobhan wrote absolutely made every trip to Belgium Michelle and I went on, using the guide to discover incredible bars, shops and beers we always used it and I found the maps included are better than any other guide. Most importantly, because of the enjoyment from using the guide and exploring Belgium with Michelle, I was inspired to start writing myself. Those holidays Michelle and I had, helped by the “Around Brussels/Bruges in 80 Beers”, was where my passion for Belgian beer and for sharing the experiences of those beers and the bars they were drank in really took off.
Although I only had the pleasure of having a beer with Podge a small handful of times, thinking back to two occasions brings a smile to my face. The first was at Billericay Brewing Co for an evening with a very young Beavertown and Logan Plant for a meet the brewer event. At the end of the evening I remember Podge pulling out a 750ml bottle of St Bernardus Abt 12 for everyone to share, I cant remember how old the bottle was but I am sure it had been lovingly stored for some time and we all appreciated the generous gift. The second was the British Guild of Beer Writers Summer party 2 years ago on the Tattershall Castle boat pub where I was able to spend the last part of the evening sharing beers while chatting with him and Siobhan.
Thanks to Podges beer bars at the CAMRA festivals across Essex I was able to drink some of the best Belgian beers available in a time before Craft Beer had exploded the UK beer scene. Although there was one beer I always wanted to try that I could never find.. Podges Imperial Stout, a beer brewed by Alvinne for Podge. Hopefully there is some bottles out there somewhere for me to find one day.
Podge’s passion for Belgian beer and his writing is a huge inspiration to me, the Belgium beer guides are my favourite books and they have been lent out to many friends to also use when they visit Belgium. They will be fondly used for many many years to come. I wish I had been on one of his tours as I always hear such great things about them. His love for Belgian beer and all the work with his tours over the past couple of decades makes Podge one of the beer greats who deserves loads of credit for helping grow the beer scene to what is today. Tonight I raise a glass of Gulden Draak Quad to Podge and thank him for inspiring me to start this blog all those years ago.
My thoughts are with Siobhan and all the family.