Belgium westvleteren questions

Discussion in 'Europe' started by KTien, Jul 10, 2012.

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  1. KTien

    KTien Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2012 New York


    I'm in Holland for the summer, and figured I should make the trip over to Westvleteren! I was just wondering if anyone here had any experience with the trip without a car... are bikes easy to rent in Poperinge (where I'm taking the train to)? Also, how are the odds of them having smaller quantities for sale at the shop itself? I was all set to try for a crate this morning, but my phone refused to place the call =(.

  2. StarRaptor

    StarRaptor Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2010 California

    I'm pretty sure without a car and an appointment you're out of luck. You can enjoy a chalice or two at the cafe next door
  3. andrejes

    andrejes Initiate (185) Jun 10, 2011 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

    You must first know why you go there only for drinking a Westy 12 (you see nothing of the abbey)?? The appointment is very difficult now!! It's a trip of 2 a 3 hour with the train from Holland and expensieve!!
    if you want to drink some and bring a few home then i have plenty for you. We can trade!!
    Just BM me please!!

  4. Vanlingleipa

    Vanlingleipa Disciple (354) May 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Are the 3-paks available at the Abbey every day? For the OP, when I was there, the monks were selling a combo 1 each of the 8/10/12 without appt.
  5. KTien

    KTien Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2012 New York

    First, thanks for the replies!

    I am well aware that I'm out of luck with regards to getting a crate and had resigned myself to a few at the cafe, was just wondering (read: hoping) that I'd be lucky enough to pick up a small pack or something. So I too was wondering if there's a pattern to when the three-packs are for sale!

    I definitely wanted to see the abbey, see Poperinge, and be otherwise touristy while around. I am pretty time-limited, though, since as Andre says, the train ride eats up most of the day; anyone have any kind suggestions about the area?
  6. doopiedoopiedoo

    doopiedoopiedoo Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2010 Netherlands

    Jeffo did it by train from Utrecht. Round trip took him all day.

    Three packs appear at random at the pick up. Last week they had them 2 pack limit per person.

    If you strike out at the Abbey we can work something out. BM me if interested. Untill when will you be in Holland?
  7. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    The entire Westhoek is incredibly poorly connected when it comes to public transportation. You'll spend most of the day travelling, so I wouldn't expect doing a whole lot of other things while you're there. Maybe you could pop by Struise? They're only open on Saturdays now.
  8. alagnak

    alagnak Initiate (113) May 13, 2009 Colorado

    Not much help on the bike question (although I believe you can also make the trip from Poperinge with the Belbus minibus system. Need to call them a couple of hours in advance to arrange pickup at the official stops. One of the official stops is right outside the monastery).

    As of last Sunday, the cafe was selling a mixed pack for €23,50 that included 2X Blonde, 1X 8, 1X 12, a Chalice and a coaster.
  9. KTien

    KTien Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2012 New York

    De Struise's a great idea, I didn't realise it was so close! Very bike-able.

    Thanks again for all the help!
  10. azorie

    azorie Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    yes you can rent bikes there, np. sadly the old forums had many posts about bikeing all over Belgium. Of course the north and west is fairly/totally flat.
  11. BTPete

    BTPete Devotee (460) Jan 28, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I finished up a bike tour of Belgium in late May and I can't answer about renting near the train but can say it's a beautiful area to ride and mostly flat so you can make easy progress after a few 12's! It may be an all day adventure but to me it would be an enjoyable one.
  12. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    Here is some info you need:

    You need to go with the train to the Dutch trainstation of Roosendaal. From there take the train to Antwerps and then choose your route to Poperinge.

    This is the timetable:

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

    This is a bike rental: (they are closed on sundays!!)

    This is another rental possibility:

    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:

    You can actually go inside the abbey and join the monks in prayers. 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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

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

    Good luck if you want to go.

    Better way is to find a BA who is willing to drive you to Westvleteren!

  13. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands


    I spoke to Urbain about this and he told met they are open during the week because of the tourist season.

  14. KTien

    KTien Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2012 New York

    Thijs that post was very much appreciated! I took the dive and went today, and everything worked out great. I rented a bike at the 2nd location Thijs mentioned, which is inside the Hotel Belfort actually, on the Grote Markt, 10 euros for the day. Bike to Westvleteren, then to Oostvleteren to see De Struise Brouwers, then back to Poperinge, with the whole last leg being tiring from the bottles and glasses I was hauling around. They were selling 6 packs of the 6 and 8, and they had 3-packs at the pickup joint =)

    Thanks everyone for the advice and help, you guys are great!
    JimDH, doopiedoopiedoo and Bierman9 like this.
  15. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    Great to hear it all worked out fine. You had a grand day, i am sure about that!

    Bierman9 likes this.
  16. doopiedoopiedoo

    doopiedoopiedoo Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2010 Netherlands

    Glad that worked out.
  17. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Initiate (165) Nov 27, 2008 Oregon

    Thanks to everyone for the info here. I'm planning on doing this in a couple weeks (leaving from Gent) myself.
    KTien likes this.
  18. rettie

    rettie Initiate (16) Feb 24, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    The info here is awesome!

    I will be in Belgium in August and have a few questions:

    1. How far in advance to you have to reserve? I'll likely be in Brugges on the 22/23rd of August and want to pick up on one of these days, is this too late/early? I am planning to call next week.
    2. Do you HAVE to have a car to make a reservation? I'd like to pick up on bike if possible, potentially train from Brugges --> Poperinge, bike to Westvleteren and back. Carrying a crate might be interesting...

  19. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    You will have to check the site and look when your possible pickupdates show up. Normally that's a week before. Calling next week is REALLY no option, patience is a virtue.

    You need phones (try to use at least two (cell)phones) with the cellinfo visible. They will not accept calls when the cellinfo isn't visible.

    If the time comes to call you need A LOT of patience. Normally it will take hundreds of tries without even getting trough. When you get trough it can take up to one minute before they answer the phone so be patient.

    You can tell the monk on the phone you will come with a rental car. He then will write down your name in stead of a license plate.

    There is a slight possibility they will not allow you to pick up the beer with a bike or on foot. You will have to ask someone at cafe In de Vrede if he drives you trough the beerpickuppoint. There will be lots of visitors without a reservation who love to do that for you.

    Good luck and have fun!

  20. rettie

    rettie Initiate (16) Feb 24, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Thijs thanks for that!

    I was wondering if that was the case -- I'll be checking the website, but it will be a nerve wrecking 3 weeks or so! Do you know if you pay by credit card over the phone, or when you pick up?

    It seems that 2-3 crates are available for reservation per day, can I reserve more than 1? I appreciate there's 24 per crate, but I won't be back for a while and I'll have a friend with me.

    Heh heh, glad to hear people drive others through, I suppose I can part with 1 beer for their trouble...


  21. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands


    The best thing to do i take cash money with you. I have seen guys with creditcards fail to pay. We have bankcards with a chip on it which work. You also can not pay by phone or paypal.

    There is a possibility to reserve for you and your friend so that you can pick up four or six crates. Just be aware that the can not use the phone with which you made the first call. After that call they block the number for 60 will need multiple phones for that!

    You can also buy some threepacks at the beerpickuppoint for 9 euro, in it a blond, an 8 and a 12.

  22. rettie

    rettie Initiate (16) Feb 24, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I am a bit late at replying! Apologies!

    Had an incredible time in Belgium, and thank you Thijs for your advice about Westvleteren!! We got the train from Bruges to Poperinge (~2 hrs), then rented bikes from the Belfort Hotel there for 10 euros each and cycled to the abbey (clearly signposted, get a map in the Tourist info in Poperinge, but I believe we looked for signs 68 then 70 and we were there). Beautiful area to bike around and because it's so flat we didn't even break a sweat, took 30 mins.

    Drank at the cafe, took 2x 3 packs back, tasted one and leaving the other for a year before tasting again. Just excellent, real bucket list stuff. :grinning: only wish I'd learned more Flemish, but I guess I'll just have to go back!

    azorie and Brabander like this.
  23. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (3,546) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Does anyone know about making the same trip from Paris? E.g. getting to a nearby train station (do they have lockers like the main stations usually do? I kinda doubt it but I ought to ask), renting bikes and visiting the abbey+cafe and drinking fresh chalices? I'd also want to get some 3 or 6 packs, whichever is available, to bring home too.
  24. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (3,546) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Oh and another question would be- I don't think I'll try to buy a crate to bring home but it might be worth a try making the calls if I do end up renting a car to make the trip. But, from what I can tell, I can pick up six packs at In de Vrede? Do they consistently have 8 and 12 in stock or is it a total gamble as to what is available then?
  25. beerpirates

    beerpirates Defender (670) May 4, 2010 Belgium
    Beer Trader

    The 12 is rarly in stock at in de vrede , the others are a gamble ,
    I've they do have some in stock it's 1 sixpack a person !
    Best is to give them a call the day that you want to visit
  26. UncleJimbo

    UncleJimbo Site Editor (3,380) Sep 11, 2002 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Both times I visited In De Vrede, the shop had no sixpacks available for sale. But now that they often(?) sell bottles to walk-up visitors at the drive-thru pick up area of the Abbey, you might have a higher chance of success.
  27. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    Chances have become bigger to get the beer at the beerpickuppoint. They even have a kind of bricks with 6 bottles of the 12 and two small chalices for 24 euro a brick i believe. This is not the same brick as you have seen in the States last month.

  28. GoodOmens

    GoodOmens Initiate (0) Feb 18, 2011 Virginia

    I'll be in Belgium Saturday through Tuesday this Feb and was planning on making the trek either on Monday or Saturday.

    Which do you think would be the better day to have a chance at a six pack? I'm guessing Monday?

    I understand nothing is guaranteed.
  29. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    Monday is normally a good day for some Westvleteren beers. Let me know when you will be going and i will ask brother Michael if there are some sixpacks on that day...

  30. CwrwAmByth

    CwrwAmByth Poo-Bah (1,716) Jan 24, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    Yeah that's correct, Robert_N from Cardiff went there a week or two a go and they sold him (and his mates) the 6-packs which had the usual unmarked bottles in. It was at the drive in place as well.
  31. Robert_N

    Robert_N Initiate (0) Apr 10, 2012 United Kingdom (Wales)

    Yes, we were in Vleteren and after getting to see a poster on the door of Struise in Oostvleteren we decided to check out the Abbey just because we were close by, we got there and it was a pick up day, so we just rocked up to the drive in and joined the queue, the man (not sure if he was a monk) just laughed and looked at us like we were crazy and so did everyone else, but he sold us the 6 pack, only one each though.
    I was quite happy with that, I don't need 20 bottles of the 12.
  32. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (3,546) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Hmm I'd be there on a Thursday at the beginning of July. Hopefully there's something left in store- I basically just want a six pack to take home. I'll probably post again about this as the time gets closer.
    Brabander likes this.
  33. UncleJimbo

    UncleJimbo Site Editor (3,380) Sep 11, 2002 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Check on it as the time gets closer because the Monks sometimes take a holiday in early or mid-July, at least they did in 2011.
  34. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (3,546) Nov 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Thank you, that's good to know. I'll definitely keep it in mind. If that's the case, I'll want to research other sources of Westvleteren in Belgium so that I don't come back with ALL lambics and krieks, haha. In all honesty though I think I'd still make it over to In De Vrede just to drink some relatively fresh Westvleteren (at least I'm assuming they are.) and go to the other nearby places (Ypres, St. Bernardus, de Struise, etc etc)
    UncleJimbo likes this.
  35. CStrife187

    CStrife187 Initiate (0) Apr 22, 2011 North Carolina

    I'm planning a trip to Westvleteren (coming from Germany) in March. To see if they have mixed packs available do you just walk up to the beer pickup point without a reservation and ask? I don't want to be rude.
  36. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    It's not rude to walk to the beerpickuppoint. They have made a special path for that. With a bit of luck you will be able to buy as well at Cafe In de Vrede. Just be sure the Cafe is open:

    Will not be there in march...

  37. CStrife187

    CStrife187 Initiate (0) Apr 22, 2011 North Carolina

    Thijs, thank you for the wealth of information you provide about Westvleteren. I'll be there on a Saturday, on which I believe they'll be open. I'll probably call before I drive out just in case.
  38. GoodOmens

    GoodOmens Initiate (0) Feb 18, 2011 Virginia

    Thanks for the response. Looks like it will be Monday Feb 18th or I can go on Saturday Feb 16th.
  39. Brabander

    Brabander Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    You will have to do this without my help because i will be away abroad without the possibility to mail brother Michael. Chances will be big however that you will find sixpacks there. Here is a pic i made a few weeks ago. You can see the pallet with the boxes of the 12...
  40. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (389) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Have fun on your trip! I just did this last weekend (Heidelberg->Aachen->Westvleteren) and I can tell you they had plenty of six packs available for sale at the Cafe gift shop, for whatever that's worth. These are a little more expensive per bottle than the per-case reservation price, but they are there. A six-pack of the Blond was €16 and the 12 was €20.
    Brabander likes this.
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