Monday, February 22, 2010

And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of beer, I will fear no hangover

Part III: The exciting conclusion of the three-part series of Trappist Breweries and Monasteries, subtitled: For Thine is the Yeast, the Hops and the Malt Forever and Ever Amen.

If y'all recall, I mentioned in my first post on this topic that there were five Trappist breweries in Belgium. Well, hold on to your hats folks. We made an accidental discovery while having breakfast in Maastricht and doing some innocent research on the interwebs. There is also a Trappist monastery/brewery in Netherlands and another one that sits on the border of Belgium and Netherlands. Literally, the border runs right through the monastery! So, our goal of visiting all five Belgian Trappist breweries was scratched and it became our mission to make it all the world!

(Okay, so it helps that all seven are located in two neighboring countries and even more so that the one in Netherlands is pretty near the border and another one is actually on the border. But it sounds way more impressive to the world! So I'm going with that. If you've got a problem with it, file a complaint with management.)

(P.S. I'm the management. Gotcha.)

We plotted the three monasteries out on the iPhone and wouldn't you know, their locations formed a perfect little arc between Maastricht and Brussels. It was totally meant to be.

But before we get started, let's recap:
Stops 1-3; Orval, Rochefort and Chimay; are here.
Stop 4, Westvleteren, is here.
For stops 5-7, read on...

First up was Achel, the one on the border. I was the navigator and it was super fun to follow the little blue dot on my iPhone map, knowing the exact moment we crossed borders. It went something like this:
Netherlands, Netherlands, Netherlands, Netherlands, NetherlandsNetherlandsNetherlandsNetherlandsBELGIUM!

We were big fans of Achel. Very tasty.

In the courtyard of the brewery area...

Our offering to the church. (Where else can you make a donation and get a sixer in return??)

Here's my proof that I wasn't kidding about the border running right through the monastery. (Only trouble is, we don't know whether to file this place in Belgian Trappist or Netherlands Trappist.)

Next was La Trappe, truly in Netherlands. It was a pretty foggy and misty day but we didn't mind. It's kind of nice to visit a monastery on a day like this. It's very quiet and peaceful and the weather lends a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?

I loved the many many cycle racks outside the cafe (which is actually situated on the grounds). La Trappe sits right on a well-traveled cycle path so I imagine it's pretty full in the spring and summer.

A wee sample...

And another donation...

And on to our seventh and final stop, Westmalle. The monastery is at the end of a long walking path, surrounded by countryside.

Monastery number 7!

We kept trying to get a photo of ourselves but for some reason they kept coming out blurry. So Jason just held the camera out and started snapping photo after photo after photo in the hope that one of them would be good. I couldn't stand it anymore and just cracked up. But I love this pic. Even though it's still blurry (WHY?!? WHY, GOD, WHY?!?), this one was the keeper.

And cafe number 7! We made it, we made it, we made it!!!! Mission accomplished.

And with that, I leave you with a bit of food porn. I've you're a cheese lover and you've never had a croquette in Belgium, well...I hate to tell you but you've just not lived until you've tasted one of these puppies.

And I wonder why I feel like I've gained about 10 pounds since moving here. (I refuse to step on a scale to confirm my suspicions.)

Stand by for hilarious tales from our visit with Phuze...


Aisling said...

I think I'm going to have to put this on our list of things to do once we move to Belgium!

Heather said...

I highly recommended it Aisling! It was great fun :)

andrea said...

I gained 10 lbs reading about your beer and the croquettes, yum! And I love the pic of you and Jason!

Suze - Cheshire, UK said...

hahahahahaha, you drank a wee sample. Geddit??
[collapses in hysterics]

Alice said...

I'm with Andrea. I'm sitting here gaining weight for you. And seriously thinking about converting to your religion. They don't serve beer in our churches. Just Welch's grape juice and a lot of guilt. Which, you know, I just can't get enough ot.