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Belgium (Poperinge, Brussels, Antwerp?), and the inevitable Westy Quest(y)...

Discussion in 'Benelux' started by bainard, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. bainard

    bainard Aficionado (225) Illinois Mar 15, 2006

    Hey all,

    I'm vacationing with the wife in Utrecht currently (gorgeous town if you ever get the chance, way less zoo-y than Amsterdam). We're headed to Brussels tomorrow. Hopefully we'll hit up Cantillon, then beyond that who knows. We definitely have one, perhaps two, nights in Poperinge. We're going to bike over to Ieper (Ypres) to hopefully not get blown up by UXOs from WWI, then look around the hopfields and of course go to Westvleteren.

    I've been feverishly attempting to place a reservation to pick up beer from the abbey, to of course no avail. To this end, I have a couple specific questions about the website and reserving/picking up beer.

    1. I'm assuming the hours that are open for pickup are also the hours for reservations, yes? If this is the case, nothing's open until Monday and we can spend a day in Antwerp or something. Otherwise, is there some other indicating factor that lets one know it's reservation time?
    2. In De Vrede is currently closed, and we don't have a car. Would asking someone at the place we're staying in Poperinge for a ride be the best bet if we're attempting to possibly snag bottles (if we're able to get a reservation)?
    3. If getting a reservation is still a no-go, would we still be able to theoretically pick up bottles in 3-packs or something from the shop? That seems to be what is communicated here.

    Thanks for your help, and if there are other suggestions folks might have for Belgium, let me know. Cheers.
  2. 1. Pick-up hours are NO reservation hours : reservation is done by phone on a specific date / hour in the morning (see http://www.sintsixtus.be/nl/brouwerijactueel.htm for hours). When you get in by phone, you can choose a pick-up date which is normally the next week in the afternoon (see the website again).
    2. During reservation, you have to supply a valid license plate so they can check during pick-up it is really you !
    3. They sometimes sell 3-packs, SOMETIMES in the shop !

    If you're staying in Poperinge, I would definitely visit Sint-Bernardus brewery in Watou (very close to Poperinge, you can use the bike again) : every Friday 2PM they organise a public tour throught the brewery. On the other days, you can ONLY visit the shop. There 12 is a nice consolatian price if you don't get Westie XII
    Also in Watou, Brewery Van Eecke, but they don't do tours.

    Cantillon you can visit every day, you can even download a nice walk on their website ! In Brussels, visit the 'usual suspects' : 1. Moeder Lambic - 2. Poechenellekelder - 3. Delirium (avoid in WE) for a nice selection of draft / bottled beers.

    If you have the time / chance : take the train to Antwerp or Gent

    In Antwerp : Kulminator, possibly the best beer pub in the world for rare/vintage beers & 't Pakhuis, a micro brewery w/ a restaurant (or was it a restaurant w/ a microbrewery ???)

    In Genth : 't Waterhuis aan de Bierkant & next door 't Druppelkot for a Belgian jenever !

    They both have a nice town centre, although Genth is more medieval :)
  3. Picking up threepacks (two a person usually) is a good option. If you go on a bike don't forget to bring a good shopping bag to put in the threepacks. Also try to go to the Struise Guys if they are in the schoolbuilding where the headquarters are. This info could be helpfull!::::

    From Brussels the best abbey to visit with public transportation is the abbey of Saint Sixtus in Westvleteren. You can take the train from Brussels to Poperinge.

    First check if they are open: http://www.sintsixtus.be/eng/brouwerij.htm

    This is the timetable for the trains: http://www.railtime.be/website/ShowTrain.aspx?smc=1&stat=602&dep=1&tn=2328&tr=07:30-60&stn=0&l=EN


    There the best thing you can do is rent a bike near the trainstation. There are busconnection but they are very irregular.

    This is a bike rental: http://www.tomacc.be/ (they are closed on sundays!!)

    This is another rental possibility: http://www.fietsverhuurpoperinge.be/

    You can ask for a route map and then you can bike very easily to the abbey. Cafe in de Vrede is open on saturday's and sundays. But the best thing is always to check the site:

    http://www.indevrede.be/languagee/index.htm

    You can actually go inside the abbey and see the monks in pray in the chapel. You don't have to pray with them but it is very special to see how this goes. You can walk trough the abbey to the chapel and after that you can walk back.

    These are the times they pray:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethmasoch/5818182686/in/set-72157625974747146

    The best time to go there is the 'sext' at 12.15 and the 'noon' at 14.15 hours.

    What you must do is go to the entrance about ten minutes before the prayers start. This is the entrance:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethmasoch/5689812417/in/set-72157625974747146

    Just ring the bell there and tell the monk who opens the door you want to go to the prayers. They will ask you to put out all cellphones. It is not allowed to make film or photo's.

    It is not possible to visit the brewery but here are the pictures i made when i was invited there:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethmasoch/sets/72157625974747146/

    If you have enough time i would suggest to visit the Struise Brouwers in Oostvleteren. This is a 20 minutes bikeride from the abbey to their headquarters. They are mostly open on the saturdays from 14.00 till 18.00 hours.

    Here are the pictures i made from my visits to them:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethmasoch/sets/72157625974660722/

    From Struise back to Poperingen and then the train back to Brussels!

    Good luck if you want to go.


    About calling for the beers!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Check the site when you can call them: http://www.sintsixtus.be/eng/brouwerij.htm This time is the central European time....

    - Use phones with the cellinfo visible, without that you will not get a connection.
    - Try to call with several phones at one time. The more phones the bigger the chances!
    - Be prepared that you will have to try at least 500 to 600 calls before you get trough. You will hear the busy signal many times........
    - When you get trough it can take some time (up to a minute) before the monks picks up the phone, just let it ring....
    - Ask the monk if the date you would like to pick up the crates is still free. You can give the monk your name and when you pick up the crates he will ask for that.
    - If you don't get trough there will be a possibility to buy some bottles at the beer pickuppoint during the opening hours (whci are the opening hours to pick up the crates)
    - From the 2nd week in october 2012 on they will start to sell sixpacks at the beerpickuppoint so if you don't get trough you can buy one or two of those.



    Thijs
  4. bainard

    bainard Aficionado (225) Illinois Mar 15, 2006

    Thijs--

    Thanks so much for all the helpful information! Will they be able to sell 3- or 6-packs when I am there Monday and Tuesday? Thanks again.
  5. If the abbey beerpickuppoint is open chances are very big that they sell threepacks. The sixpack will be sold somewhere half october. Have fun there.

    Thijs

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