Wednesday, March 24, 2010
"The Best Beer in the World"
I'm not a very good blogger, but I'm going to blame winter for my hibernation. In winter I tend to stay inside, even on weekends, catching up on movies, books, tv and knitting. Now that it's spring things should be a bit more frequent!
J and I just got back from our first adventure of the new year! He finally got an appointment at the St. Sixtus Monastery of Westvletern, near Poperinge Belgium, to buy some of the "Best Beer In the World". The Trappist Westvleteren 12 is a Belgian quad style beer that is only brewed and sold by appointment at this monastery, so you can imagine how excited he was to get an appointment!
Poperinge, Belgium, is north of Antwerp, in the Flanders Fields area of Belgium. We drove about four and a half hours through rolling farmland tipped with green to reach this "Hop Capital", and stayed in a tiny hotel on the main square. Our lovely room (with a HUGE bathroom) had a balcony overlooking a little manicured courtyard with a koi pond. While the town itself is a bit boring, I wouldn't have minded a few more nights in that hotel!
We were caravaning with two of J's coworkers, so we spent some time at the monastery both Monday and Tuesday, for our respective appointments. Unfortunately you cannot go inside the monastery, but there is an adjoining restaurant for visitors with a nice view of the surrounding fields, where we sat and drank the monks' beer and munched on Croque Monsieur sandwiches made with local ham and cheese.
We spent our short stay wandering the small town, having a wonderful dinner in the local Irish pub, drinking lots of good beer, and visiting the many World War I monuments in the area.
Memorial to the Irish Soldiers
Another memorial and cemetary
On the ride up I had been mentally reviewing my high school French in preparation for our stay, but unfortunately in that area of Belgium they speak Dutch! Everyone spoke English too though, so we got along fine. I did get to use my French at the chocolate shop in the next town over though! MMmm Belgian Chocolate! J goes a little nuts over truffles and we got an entire pound of our favorites, including Fruits de la Mer (swirled chocolate sea shells with hazelnut creme), Mocha, Irish Cream, rich ganache and pistachio cream.
On our way out of town we stopped at a beer warehouse to stock up on other amazing Belgian beers that are hard to get (or more expensive) in Germany or the US, including Duvel, Trappist Rochefort, Westmalle, St. Bernardus, and Karmeliet.
(Our friend's car, but we had nearly as much)
If we go back this summer we will bring our bikes to take advantage of the gorgeous routes and trails in the area. We saw so many bicyclists!
Click here to see the rest of the photos from this trip.