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Let's celebrate a new Belgian beer convert

Posted by Thom Aikman on 03/21/2002 01:12:29 PM

Sorry for the delayed posting, we are in the process of major refurbishment of our house and sometimes, the focus must move from beer.

Last Saturday, my wife and I plus Chris (as yet unfamiliar with the Belgian experience) went over to West Flanders for the day to drink and buy some Belgian beers.

We left the London area nice and early and arrived in Calais just after 11am local time. The orginal plan was to arrive an hour earlier but we were stopped and searched at customs on the UK side, so we missed our designated train.

Our plan was to head along the A16-E40 into Belgium and then come off the E40 to head towards Esen for the Dolle brewery. We only planned to stop and buy some beers, get the t-shirt and some glasses. We went into the bar and were served sample glasses of a 3 year old Stille Nacht and the new Boskeun. Both were excellent, my sample was a sample, as I was to be the driver for the whole trip as my wife had forgotten to bring her driving glasses. Chris was suitably impressed with the Stille Nacht. We expected then to buy some beers and then head off to Westvletern.

Straight away, as there was other English speakers there, we were invited on a tour of the brewery with Gran.

This old lady is amazing (84 going on 85)

so enthusiastic and proud of the place, it was great! It is indeed a very friendly brewery at De Dolle. The tour was informative and very funny. I'll definitely be back again this year. I bought an Oerbier T shirt and glass, 1 crate (20 bottles) of Oerbier and a 1 crate of mixed, although we made the mistake of not noticing that the mixed case did not include Stille Nacht. Next time !!

Our next stop was Westvletern, which we always manage to arrive at from a different route. As our plan was now 2 hours out of kilter, we unfortunately had to skip the proposed meal at the Hommelhof and snack in the In de Vrede cafe instead.

Chris and Paulette had a 12 and I had a lovely bottle of Spa Water. I am now owed a trip as passenger only! I bought 24 x 12, 6 x 8 and 6 x Blond and some of the lovely creamy Abbey cheese from across the road.

We were now getting back on schedule (only 1.5 hours out). We decided that we would do everything else that we had planned but get back to Calais whenever, as we had an open ticket.

We headed through the Flanders countryside, through all the back roads via Krombeke and Proven to Watou. The weather had been a revelation, a gorgeous warm and sunny afternoon. We were not sure whether the Van Eecke brewery shop would be open (we had heard conflicting messages prior). We parked in the square, and popped into the Het Ovenhuis across the road and bought some St Bernardus beers and glasses. (strange as we were next door to the Van Eecke brewery)

Next stop, and I was about to have my sole full beer of the day. We had never been to the Hellekapelle cafe on the outskirts of Watou. We managed to confirm that we were on the right road when on the right handside of the road, we saw the building that it is on the Plokkersbier label. As we approached, we saw two motorbikes and a car parked outside. Chris and Paulette had a Zatte Bie and I had a Helleketelbier. To complete our visit, I bought 6 Zatte and 6 Plokkersbier and Chris bought 6 Zatte.

He was becoming more and more impressed with our determination and energy. What a difference between our day and the typical lumpen proleteriat booze cruise that still exists.

Our final stop of the day was Noel Cuveliers legendary beer shop. We bought about 60 bottles here, focussing on Van Eecke, Achouffe, Abbeye des Rocs, Slagmuylder, and Girardin. The only disappointment at Noel's is the rather weak selection of Guezes.

Total haul for the day, 157 bottles, of which 20 were 75cl.

The weather now started getting cloudy for the drive up the motorway to Calais.

We got home around 9pm.

This was our first comprehensive day trip and it was immensely emjoyable as well as tiring( 300 mile round trip). The most I had driven in a day for years.

The plus was that we had a great day and successfully introduced a new Belgium and Belgian beer convert. For most people in the UK who are not into beer, Belgium can have very negative connotations. Until, they go there.

All the best


Let's celebrate a new Belgian beer convert - Thom Aikman, 03/21/02 01:12:29 PM
        Spooky! - Ian, 03/21/02 05:50:18 PM
        Re: Let's celebrate a new Belgian beer convert - Jeremy Gray, 03/21/02 04:45:40 PM
        I am jealous. . .we shall raise our glasses to Chris. . .nfm. - BrianPA, 03/21/02 01:40:03 PM
        Great report NFM - podge, 03/21/02 01:34:43 PM

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