It wasn’t until after we crossed the Belgian border (granted that only took about twenty minutes) that we realized we had forgotten to look up the actual address of the monastery.
No matter, we thought, we knew which city it was in. We put “Westvelteren” into the GPS, and found a street with the same name of the Abbey, “St. Sixtus.”
The GPS lead us to a residential street. Knowing that the abbey is located in the middle of fields, we decided to follow a sign indicating “Westvelteren” as well as fields.
We quickly found ourselves driving along a dirt pathway in the middle of nowhere, with no street signs, and no abbey in sight, very lost.
Luckily, a friend was supposed to meet us at the monestary. We gave him a call to ask him for the address, but as a regular he didn't know. Deciding to wait for him to look it up, we drove to the nearest town, Poperinge, which ended up being very charming with Flandres style architecture.
Poperinge, Belgium town center.
Originally we had planned on having a late-ish lunch comprised of the bread and cheese also made by the monks, but as it was fast approaching 15h and not knowing if we'd ever make it to the beer holy land, we decided to find a snack.
What better to tide us over than some fresh Belgian fries? Unfortunately, all the restaurants and fry stands were closed except one, however they only spoke flamand(Belgian Dutch). After asking them if they served fries, they replied in a broken English that nobody served fries at this hour.
It wasn't a complete waste of time, however. Thanks to a display, we learned that 80% of Belgian hops are grown in Poperinge. An appropriate stop indeed.
Not to worry, we ended up getting the address, tasting delicious cheese, and enjoying the best beer in the world. And yes, it lived up to it’s name.
Westvleteren Bruin 12 and abbey-made cheese.
But if you ever visit it, make sure to have the address.
Check it out:
"In de Vrede"