DESTINATION: Westvleteren (The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren) and touring around the Poperinge region.
DISTANCE: About 10 miles
GETTING THERE: It’s less than five miles from St Bernardus to Westvleteren. It’s about another five miles into Poperinge to check out the town with its hop museum and other offerings.
Finally, a day without a long ride! Today is just a short ride to Westvleteren and Poperinge.
For the past few years Westvleteren (Westy) 12 has commonly been referred to as the best beer in the world. I think the beer mainly gets this reputation because it’s so hard to find and people want to tell their friends, “I’m drinking the best beer in the world. What have you ever done with your life?” What makes the Westy beers so rare is that officially they can only be purchased at the abbey, you have to call ahead to reserve one case, you’re only allowed to make a reservation once every 60 days, and you’re going to get a busy signal 99% of the time you call. Westy 12 was only sold once (legally/officially) in the US in 2012 in order to fund a new roof for the Abbey. It went for $85 per 4-pack and sold out within minutes. I was still excited to try this beer, despite thinking that it’s mostly hype.
Of all the Abbeys, Westvleteren is pretty blah, but their official cafe is pretty fancy and modern. The monks of Westvleteren criticize the other Trappists for being too commercial, so Casey found their fancy cafe a little hypocritical. I think the cafe gives locals a great location to spend time with friends and family at a reasonable price, and I think that is one of the best things a monastery can contribute to its local community.
Yes, Westy 12 is delicious. Actually, it’s really delicious. But St Bernardus 12 is better. We enjoyed all the Westvleteren offerings. They make a delicious Blonde that’s overshadowed by the 12, and honestly I would prefer to drink the Westvleteren 8 on a regular basis. They even make a Westy 12 ice cream. It’s delicious. Why wouldn’t it be?
After our beers, we headed to Poperinge to check out the Hop Museum, The town is famous for their hops, and they’re certainly proud of that fact. As luck would have it, there was an exhibition on Trappist beers, and today was National Culture Awareness day so the museum visit was free! The museum is pretty cool if you’re into hops and beer. If you’re reading this you must be, or you’re seriously lost. The Hop Museum can be found at Gasthuisstraat 71, 8970 Poperinge, Belgium.
We also checked out the Everyman Club down the street. During World War I, the Brits converted a private house into a R&R spot for their soldiers. We just so happened to visit while they were having a special picnic with drums and bagpipes.
On to the next post: Days 10 – 12: Bruges
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