BELGIUM: Westvleteren Trappist Beer

Blonde + 8
Blonde + 8

Belgium is well-known, dare I say infamous, for their Trappist beer.  When people ask why you should visit Brussels we often say “the beer, the chocolate, and the frites.”  It’s one of the country’s big draws, and Jared’s favorite perk of living in Brussels.

There are six abbeys in Belgium allowed to use the “Authentic Trappist Product” label.  Of the six, Westvleteren is the one you most likely have never heard of (even though it’s regularly rated as one of the top beers in the world) and have probably never actually seen or tried.  [Unless you are one of the few desperate enough to pay the outrageous prices on eBay.]  Unlike some of the other Trappists, Westvleteren is very exclusive with its distribution – as in it doesn’t.  You won’t find this beer on tap at your local beer bar and you most definitely will not find it at your grocery or liquor store no matter how specialty or “craft” they are.  The only way to enjoy one of these beers is to go to the abbey and buy one for yourself, and we definitely recommend that you do!

If you are visiting Belgium with a car, you can attempt to get a case or two of beer by calling during the two open hours a day to schedule a time slot.  This can, however, often prove to be an impossible and frustrating task.  Or, you can do as we do and head to In de Vrede which is their cafe located right by the abbey.  Here you can sit down, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy a bottle or two of any of their famous beer (the Blonde, 8 or 12).  Once you’ve had your fill, stop by the visitor center and pick up a 6-pack of your own to take home.  And if you’re nice, maybe you’ll share one or two of them with those less fortunate than you, because good beer is meant to be shared.

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Tucked in the farm lands off the main road – blink and you may miss it.

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Blonde drinking the Blonde.
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Two six-packs of the 12 to go – unlikely to last through the week.

Tell us, have any of you tried it? Do you think it lives up to the hype as “best beer in the world”?