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Belgium How prevalent/accessible are some of the Trappist beers within Belgium?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Rohkey, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    I will be in Europe for a couple weeks in April, specifically Paris for a week or so (with a relative) then Belgium/Netherlands for a few days on my own. I'll probably visit a Trappist brewery or two and also plan to purchase a boatload of beer to bring back. I was curious how easy it is to get some of the harder-to-get-in-the-U.S. Trappist beers in Belgium.

    Unfortunately it seems the cafe that sells Westvleteren is inexplicably closed for a week in April, the same week in which I'll be there, so Westy is out of the question. However, I do want to bring back a decent amount of Westmalle, Rochefort, Chimay, and, potentially, La Trappe. Are these easily purchasable in Belgian stores (or, in the case of La Trappe, Dutch stores) in bulk 12oz bottles? I'm mostly interested in Westmalle - generally the two main stores I go to for beer around my house only have 1-2 bombers and bottles of it on the shelf at any given time, and the 12 ouncers go for around $6 a piece.
     
  2. westmalle was easy to find i got some in convenience stores in ghent. im sure the others are pretty easy to get ahold of too but i was drinking mostly jupiler and hoegaarden i didnt know better at the time. have fun its awesome there
     
    Rohkey likes this.
  3. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    Thanks, I had assumed as much but wanted to make sure beforehand. Do you remember the approximate cost per bottle?
     
  4. I was in Brussels last May. The trappist beers were everywhere. Even little corner places had bottles of Rochefort 10 for 2.50 euro.
     
    Jwale73 and Rohkey like this.
  5. digita7693

    digita7693 Advocate (655) Germany Jan 19, 2010

    All of those are available at most grocery stores in Belgium, but they are also available at most stores in the US. The only ones that aren't available are things such as Westvleteren, petit Orval and westmalle extra.
     
    Tut likes this.
  6. ehh i cant really remember. it will be cheaper than here but u also have to factor in the dollar is like 3/4 the value of te euro
     
  7. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    Also, would anyone mind providing some advice as to where to stay/etc.? My undergrad advisor suggested I stay in Leuven (college town, good night life, in middle of Belgium) as opposed to Brussels. I do want to see Antwerp, though. I know some of the 'must visit' spots, but I really just want to ensure I have a good time taking in the scenery and being away from things here in the states.

    I've read some of the other threads in the Benelux forum and noticed a lot of people want to pack too much into their trips - I certainly do not want to over extend myself. I purchased a 5 day rail pass and will be able to spend probably 3 nights (maybe 4) away from Paris. I would rather see some traditional, well-preserved villages/towns (and abbeys) as opposed to spending time in big cities, and don't have much interest in going to clubs or things of that nature (I want to go to bars/breweries, enjoy nice food, and do a bit of touring), however, I also do not want to spend hours on a bus after I get off a train. I'd like to visit places within 45 minutes or so from a train station...

    I would like to visit either 1) Antwerp, Westmalle, La Trappe, and Achel or 2) Chimay, Rochefort, and Orval. I'd prefer 1, but 2 is closer to Paris and would allow me to see more in the same amount of time. I think I'll stay away from Amsterdam for this trip...

    Overall, what I want from the trip, is not really to visit a ton of places and acquire beer to take home (though the later is a consideration), I want to enjoy my experience and take in some of Belgian culture without stress, without dealing with too much big-city stuff, but while getting my money's worth. I have never been to Europe until now and want to remember it not because I went to 500 different places and was in transit the whole time, but because I spent several hours in a few different locations and got to relax and enjoy my surroundings.
     
  8. Christrappist

    Christrappist Aspirant (25) Belgium Mar 11, 2013

    Hi Rohkey,

    Leuven is definately the best and most central place to stay for your visit. It's a lively student town with lots of pubs and restaurants all offering a wide variety of beers. Still it has a small-town feel about it.Try the ''dolle griet'' next to the cathedral when you are there. Hundreds of Belgian beers to taste in this pub. By train Leuven is just 20 mins from Brussels/30 mins from Antwerp and all train stations are very close to the city centres. Even Bruges is easily accesible by train from Leuven and definately a must see destination. As for the trappist abbeys, they are all in remote area's and very difficult to get to without a car. Furthermore as far as i know their breweries are not open to visitors.
     
    Rohkey likes this.
  9. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    Thanks for that. To be honest, I don't even want to visit the Trappist abbeys for their breweries, I'd really just like to see the abbey itself and observe how the monks live their day-day life. I've been trying to ascertain (through the internet, mostly) which ones allow visitors to walk their grounds. While beer is the main reason I wanted to visit some of these, I don't want to make the trip 'just about beer,' you know?
     
  10. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (430) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    I travelled from Rotterdam back home to Bavaria last week and took a random stop in northern Belgium near Zolder and found that they sell all those valued Trappist beers in normal Spar (= european equivalent of a 7/11) supermarkets. By the case. You should have no problems whatsoever finding the beer at least.
     
    Rohkey likes this.
  11. Let me know when you will be in Holland and where and i will provide you with some Westvleteren 12. I am almost out of bottles for for a seeker like you i will gladly reserve a few. I also have the Chimay Doree and hopefully a Westmalle extra for you.

    Thijs
     
    doopiedoopiedoo and atomeyes like this.
  12. that's supernice of you.

    just wondering...I'm in Belgium in May. is it worth looking for the petit Orval, Chimay Doree or Westmalle Extra?
     
  13. You will not find those bottles very easy. You have to know the right people for that. The petit orval is really hard to get. Let me know when and where you will be and who knows we can meet somewhere.

    Thijs
     
  14. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    Wow, that would be amazing. I will definitely let you know, and I appreciate that. I am anticipating being in northern Belgium/southern Netherlands the 9th and 10th of April. It is still all tentative at this point, however.

    Edit: If you'd like anything from me, I can get most of the things offered around the Detroit area. Or I can pay money, of course.
     
  15. Just bring Thijs a nice local sour.
     
    Morningstorm likes this.
  16. in Michigan? dude is set.
     
    doopiedoopiedoo likes this.
  17. Please NO sour beer! Just a few nice local beers would make me very happy to trade them against the Westy's. Ik like dark beers/stouts/quads...

    I live in the south of holland so that could work out OK!

    Thijs
     
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  18. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    I'm fairly new to the beer scene so I don't have a great database of knowledge in terms of great local beers (I mean I can distinguish the crap from the gold, but in between...) I assume Founders Breakfast Stout is a good start? Maybe some New Holland Night Tripper and Dragon's Milk?
     
  19. LambicKing

    LambicKing Advocate (675) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    Rohkey - since you are in MI, I'd suggest maybe Bell's (Black Note if you can trade for/find it or Expedition), Dark Horse Plead the 5th (normal or BB), Bourbon County (normal or variants), maybe something from Kuhnhenn? Might be tougher to find, but IMO, one bottle of these is better than multiple Night Trippers or Dragon's Milk in terms of a trade.

    Westvleteren 12 is a top shelf beer that deserves something of equal quality. And Thijs is a top shelf BA...recommend hooking him up if you can swing it.

    My $0.02
     
  20. Oh yes....Bourbon County would be VERY welcome!
     
  21. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    LambicKing likes this.
  22. Don't make too much fuzz for it. I will be glad with what you found!
     
  23. Vanlingleipa

    Vanlingleipa Savant (475) California May 19, 2011 Verified

    Thijs, you probably tried the Kuhnhenn BB4D at that little houseboat soiree last year. If you can get more from this gentleman, take it and run away laughing !! Truly a wonderful beverage that is worth the fuzz.
     
    Brabander likes this.
  24. Rohkey

    Rohkey Savant (350) Michigan Jan 13, 2013

    Kuhnhenn seems hard as hell to come by, even from someone living only 20 miles from the brewery. I've asked around and discovered they don't bottle most of their stuff on a regular basis, you usually can only get it from random events/releases. I will most likely end up going there next week to see if I can acquire anything, though. I've been to Dragonmead, a few miles away (they have some decent brews but I think they try to brew too much and go for quantity over quality too often), but not Kuhhenn.
     
    Brabander likes this.
  25. As was said, the brewing Trappist abbeys are typically remote, but there will be abbeys or beguinages all over the place, surely wherever you stay or visit you could see such a place. But the ones in operation are tougher to see and, to some extent that is probably not historically coincidental, more remote. Supposedly you can take a bus from the local train station to Orval, which is by reputation the most visitable of the bunch, since they have lodging and stuff (geared more toward religious rather than beer seeking). There are old ruins as well as 20th C. art deco buildings/rooms to see. And it is sort of along the way from Paris, but also fairly remote. So, I would guess it could be a short stopover en route to one of the livelier towns. Otherwise, I like Rochefort as a town but the abbey is a ways out and nothing to see that I'm aware of. I'd say similar for Westmalle and Chimay. As for the beers, pretty much every bar, restaurant and grocery store will be able to stock you with a decent variety. Have a great trip.
     
    Rohkey likes this.
  26. CoverMePorkins

    CoverMePorkins Savant (495) Delaware Sep 17, 2012 Verified

    I am an American currently living in western Germany. I travel to Arlon, Belgium to get my Belgian beer fix every couple of months.

    The first place I go to is here. http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16548/view=beerfly
    It is more of a craft bottle shop. It is on the small side but they have a great selection.

    The next stop is at a Carrefour market. Think of this as a big grocery store. Last time I was there I got Rochefort 8 330ml bottles for 1.19 euro per bottle. Westmalle was .99 euro a bottle. They had many other choices as well.

    I am sure the native people to the area can provide better options but these are the two places I like to buy at and they are only a 1 hour 45 minute drive from my house.
     
    Rohkey likes this.
  27. I was in Belgium last summer and just wanted to add my two cents. First of all, I think Brussels is definitely worth going to. Hanging out and drinking beers at the Grand Place is cool, plus there are some great stores and bars. I especially recommend Delices et Caprices. If you're interested, the owner can teach you all about different kinds of Belgian beer. Just make sure he's open on the day you're there. Also, if you don't have it, check out Michael Jackson's The Great Beers of Belgium: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Jacksons-Great-Beers-Belgium/dp/0937381934/ref=rec_dp_3. In addition to giving you an idea of interesting beers to look for while you're there, he describes in details a lot of the breweries and smaller towns, and you might see something there that you really want to go see. I'm not going to go off on this thread, but feel free to message me if you want more info.

    Anyway, enjoy
     
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  28. Hello from Belgium

    Westmalle, Chimay & Rochefort are easy to find, just walk in a medium sized supermarket and they will have a reasonable collection for a good price.

    La Trappe (the Dutch trappist) & Achel is also an easy find, if you look around and ask the correct questions :)

    Orval is a tricky one but I've read that the monks are so tired that the 'big players' buy out their stock that they will soon launch a 4-pack for the 'less fortunate' in supermarkets but no timeline is given !

    For Westvleteren you need an inside man who is willing to share his personal stock or go to the abbey and hope they are selling 'gift' packs (8 & 10 are available most of the time, 12 requires some luck) . And if you're unlucky, there's always 'De Vrede' across the straat to comfort you with a nice glass of ... !

    BR
    J.
     
  29. it was actually the small town breweries that i wanted. had a hard time finding some worthwhile ones to visit.
     
  30. SStein

    SStein Savant (470) Belgium Dec 26, 2012 Verified

    The small town breweries are great. Stuise is open Saturday afternoons and is fun. De Dolle is open Sat or Sun and does English tours on Sun. I like the beers from Ellezeloise- Quintine and the Hercule and it is a nice little brewery to hit up. St. Feuillien is cool to check out. Cantillon while not small town is great.
    Now back to the basis for thread....Trappist Beers are for the most part fairly easy to come by. Most small markets have West Malle duppel and trippel; all 3 Chimays; Rochefort 8 and 10, the 6s are a little harder to come by; La Trappe I have found a few of the larger markets; Orval is hard to find, but it can be done; Achel has been the hardest for me to come by. I have lived in Belgium for 6 months and only found 2 bottles so far.
     
  31. trevorjk

    trevorjk Savant (330) Netherlands Aug 28, 2009


    I am not far from Thijs in the South of Holland. If you make it up here, and he is not available... i have a few Westy 12's as well. In fact, if you make it up here anyways, let me know. Ill hang out with you as I am an american living here now... but i still cant work. So, i have plenty of time :)
     
    Rohkey likes this.
  32. near maastricht?
     
  33. trevorjk

    trevorjk Savant (330) Netherlands Aug 28, 2009

    I am in Gorinchem. So, its technically the south... but not in the little peninsula part of Netherlands :)
     
  34. I lived in Belgium two years and Orval/Achel was always plentiful. I moved back to the states in 2011, so has that changed? I always got it at Delhaize or Colruyt. The latter has some of the cheaper prices for grocery stores.

    But the rest of your post is spot on. Go to the small-town breweries for an incredible experience of drinking the beers with the guys who make them. De Struise has the friendliest brewers of any place I've been. Plus their beer is world class! Also worth a visit is Caracole and Fantome, both in the south and open only on weekends.
     
  35. you should note that Struise only does tours/open houses on saturday.
    makes for a nice day trip (Westy and Struise). but, for example, when i'm in Belgium, i'm going to be at the Spontaneous Fermentation Festival on Saturday. so no Struise for me.