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Amsterdam & Belgium - Part 11 - Westveleteren & Watou

Posted by Rich Link on 12/01/2003 08:08:02 PM

May 26 – Finally, all six Trappists, & Watou

On our previous trip to Belgium in 2000, we visited five of the six trappist monasteries. The one we missed was Abdij St. Sixtus, or Westvleteren. On this trip it was a mandatory stop. We left Camalou, but were delayed slightly when our hostess informed us that the neighbor had a beer that we should taste. They had a big party the night before, and they still had some in the keg. It turned out to be Kerelsbier, a strong Dortmunder-style lager at 6.4%. It had good body, and pleasant flavors.

The trip to Westvleteren from Ieper was quite short, maybe 30 minutes. We parked at the café In de Vrede, and strolled around the grounds of the Abbey – WUPT! What better way to quench a thirst than a Westy Blond? Spicy, dry, hoppy, creamy smooth –wonderful. It paired quite nicely with the cheese, pate, bread and pickles. We couldn’t stop there, so, predictably, we stepped up to the 8. With a dense creamy head, spicy aroma with some hops, full body, some caramel flavors and lingering bitterness, this is a true world-class beer.

Obviously, the 12 would be next. Considered by many Belgian fans as the best beer in the world, this ale contains the house spicy character, with a very full malty body that covers and stays on the tongue. This bottle was fairly young, so it was a bit cloudy, and livelier than “mature” bottles of 4-5 years of age (of which I have many).

The weather was absolutely perfect. It was sunny, warm, and nice little breeze. Sitting out on the patio was idyllic. Looking off across the green acres we saw some hop fields. Could these be the hops that would someday spice up a bottle of Westvleteren? To further contemplate this question I ordered another Blond, something light, since I was driving, you know.

I know this may sound a bit crude, but I'm proud to announce that during my visit at In De Vrede, I personally made use of each and every urinal in the men's room (six I believe). So I've got that going for me.

Inside the pub, I picked up some hats and shirts. Teresa got some soap or somethihng girly.

Alas, our visit was over, but we stopped by the drive-thru window to see what was being sold. It was the 8, and there was a steady line of cars coming by for beers.

We continued our drive through the country, and made our way to Watou. This town was not what I expected. I expected a much larger town with many pubs and shops. Upon arriving at the town square, I enquired in t’Hommelhof for directions to t’Brouwershuis, which was where we would spend the next three nights. I also enquired about dinner for the next few nights, only to find out that they would not be open for dinner until Friday, the day we left Watou. That was a major disappointment. I guess I should have paid more attention to my guide books.

A short drive down the road and we were at t’Brouwershius, the B & B at the St. Bernardus Brewery. This also was not what I expected. I expected a country inn, with a small brewery located across a dirt field, in a weathered wooden building. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The house was magnificent, and the brewery was much larger than I had expected.

Bernadette greeted us as we came to the door. I had traded a couple of faxes with her and she had told me that she did not speak English. Well, she did pretty darn good. And along with my very , very poor French, we communicated quite well. She was aware that I wrote about beer and breweries, and was excited to offer us some of the house beers. She showed us the cooler that was stocked with many of the St. Bernardus beers. We decided to have a Pater 6 and a Tripel. After that, we were ready for a nap.

Feeling very refreshed, we drove back into the sleepy town of Watou. A group of men and boys were playing a type of game that resembled bocce, but with wheels. We watched a little, trying not to intrude. We couldn’t quite figure it out. But they were having a great time. We walked over to the “other” square and saw the famous statues of the brewer and the hop pickers. But most everything was closed.

Bernadette had suggested we stop at Het Ovenhuis – they own it – for dinner. Despite the bias, the place was a nice country pub, with a good beer menu, and fantastic dinner menu. Teresa had salmon wrapped around goat cheese on pasta with tasty tomatoes. It was one of the best meals of the trip. I had three fishes – salmon, pike(?) & perch(?), in a sauce with carrots and fennel. It was also quite nice.

We (I), decided to do some side-by-side tasting. First, Watou Wit and St. Bernardus Wit. The Watou Wit was tangy and acidic, with nice wheat flavors. It was very refreshing. St. B’s Wit had less aroma and less wheat flavor. Overall, the Watou Wit won this round. The second round was more for a clarification than for tasting. I had a suspicion that Delirium Tremens and La Guillotine were, in fact, the same beer. This would be the first time I had tasted them side-by-side. The jury’s in – same beer. I don’t understand this. DT gets much better reviews by all who taste it. It is marketed more aggressively than LG. Why have La Guillotine at all?

Amsterdam & Belgium - Part 11 - Westveleteren & Watou - Rich Link, 12/01/03 08:08:02 PM
        Feather bowling? - Bob Johnston, 12/02/03 08:40:08 AM
                Re: Feather bowling? - Rich Link, 12/02/03 10:24:58 AM
                        Re: Feather bowling? - Filip Geerts, 12/03/03 06:02:32 AM
                        t'Brouwershuis - Jeremy Gray, 12/02/03 05:32:54 PM
        Het Ovenhuis, Watou - John White, 12/02/03 08:14:10 AM
                Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - FredW, 12/02/03 04:59:53 PM
                Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - FredW, 12/02/03 04:59:50 PM
                Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - Dick, 12/02/03 09:29:20 AM
                        Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - Rich, 12/02/03 10:26:13 AM
                                Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - John White, 12/02/03 10:31:56 AM
                                        Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - Thom Aikman, 12/02/03 11:05:13 AM
                                        Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - Thom Aikman, 12/02/03 11:01:08 AM
                                                Re: Het Ovenhuis, Watou - John White, 12/02/03 02:51:37 PM

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