Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mecca of Beer

Five down and two to go... Trappist monasteries that make and sell their own beer that is. This past weekend's travels took us to the little town of Westvleteren, Belgium. Westvleteren is the home of The Abbey of Saint Sixtus where the little known and well loved Trappist ale is brewed.
Let me start at the beginning though. Westvleteren is a three hour drive from where we live, and for little ones, driving in the car for more than 10 minutes is boring. We decided to stay the night in the town of Poperinge which is about 10km from the Abby. Poperinge is well known for it's history in WWI & WWII but also for it's hops. The town is home to the national hop meuseum and several historic buildings. We were able to secure our lodging at the Hotel Recour in their beautiful Urania suite. The town in itself boasts many dining opportunities and the chance to taste local and country beer.
Being so close to the French border we were surprised to find that the food as well as the language spoken is Dutch/ Flemish. Being in Flanders we should have known better, but we did not. The meals were not the best we've ever eaten in Belgium, but the beers we had to accompany them made up for any shortcomings.
The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren is one of the most exclusive monasteries to sell beer. You must make an appointment on the day they specify on their website and then you are given a day and a time that you're able to pick up your beer. You also must give your license plate number and are only allowed 3 crates of beer on your pick up. You are not allowed to sell this beer that you've then purchased nor are you allowed to come back again in the month to pick up more beer. So, I spent over three hours trying to get on the queue for the phone, three hours in the car to drive there, a day to visit the area and then almost four hours to drive home (lots of traffic). This has to be the most expensive beer we've ever owned! Oh, and we brought home the Westvleteren 12 for those interested.

On a side note; apparently the Belgians cannot be without bread for even a moment:
PS: I found love in Belgium too.. shsssh, don't tell J:

No comments: