I will be in Bruges in October. I would love to take a day trip to Westvleren to have lunch and a couple Westy 12s at the cafe. Has anybody made this day trip and have advice? Was it enjoyable or not worth the effort?
I drove there on a whim after visiting Kortrijk. I didn't visit the cafe (it didn't even appear to be open when I was there), but I was able to snag a three-pack from the drive-through window where you pick up the beer.
First of all, you will need a car. The abbey sits on a narrow country back road (almost little more than a tractor trail), far off the closest main road. You can not enter the abbey compound itself. All you can really see is a hedgerow, the cafe, and the drive-through building. So, if you made the trip, it it would have to be for the beer and the beer only.
And just so you're aware, if you want to purchase more than a 3 pack, you need to pre-order from the abbey's website and make an appointment time for the pick-up. Obviously, this doesn't apply to the cafe.
PS... for the general information of the larger beer-loving community out here, if you make the trip, can you try something and report back? Here's what I'm asking. In addition to the famous 12, can someone from your party also sample the Blonde? I'm asking, because as good as the 12 was, I was surprised to find the Blonde barely palatable. It had a very unpleasent flavor that I would describe as "vomit mixed with freshly mowed grass". I'm wondering if I just had a bad batch, or if this is what the beer is supposed to taste like. I just can't believe that the same brewery could make something so putrid next to something so transcendent.
My fiancé and I are making this pilgrimage in May. We're staying in Poperinge and either biking or taking the BelBus to the cafe. From the research I have done, those seem to be the best options...it's a ways off but I can post and let you know how it goes!
Also, the way I look at it, as a huge beer nerd, I would kick myself for being so close to Westy12 again and not making the short trip.
You don't need to go to Westvleteren...they serve it at Cambrinus in Bruges and I'm sure other places. At 't Brugs Beertje (great place for beer!) they honor the "code" and do not serve it as I'm sure is the case with most places. You can also go into the gift stores in Bruges that sell beer and you'll find some of them selling it, although you have to ask for it. It's not on the shelf.
Although I found the 8 to be just as good if not better. The blond was a fine beer (not sure what happened to Tom) but no where near the amaze of the 8 and 12.
Have fun in Bruges! I went last September and it was AWESOME. Do the De Halve Maan brewery tour or at least have the Bruges Zot on draft in the brewery pub. It's the only place on the planet you can get it unfiltered and it's fantastic that way. Rather non-plussing filtered, tho. Dumon chocolates are 100% the shizz and Den Amand is a MUST for dinner. One of the best meals I've ever had.
I'm with Regan on this one. Don't need to go any farther then Cambrinus in Bruges. Westvleteren 12 is included in their extensive beer menu of over 400 beers. Sampled some there this summer. Down the street in their beer store they also have an ample supply of 12. The store is on the same street as Cambrinus but a bit closer to the Markt. You do not have to ask but it is difficult to spot as it is a plain slender unlabeled bottle amongst a zillion other bottles. Our group Picked up 6 to take home for our sons. Last summer it was on the back wall above eye level on the right side. If you want more beer meander down to the brewery for a tour and a Bruges Zot.
We made the trip to Westvleteran and De Dolle Brewers in July 2011. We had lunch at the café just beside Westvleteran and sampled all three beers. They pour the beers straight from the bottles, even at the café. The food was fine but not memorable. The beer was great, as were many other obscure beers all over Belgium. The gift shop was not selling any bottles to go on the day we visited. De Dolle brewery is nearby in Esen and was our favorite! We made arrangements to go on a tour and loved the casual tasting room at the end. We had a great day and agree that a car is definitely needed.
Quickest end less complicated way to go to Westvleteren by car is highway E40 direction Calais / Veurne (Oostende). Keep following E40 for some 45km till you have to exit to N8/Ieper/De Panne/Koksijde/Veurne. The exit road hits the N8 that crosses the E40 underneath the viaduct. You have to turn right there and join the N8 for a few hundred meters in the direction of Veurne till the roundabout, for making there a U-turn to Ieper. Follow the N8 direction Ieper over 15km till Vleteren. At the traffic lights (can already be a roundabout?) turn right to N321 / Poperinge / Westvleteren. In tiny Westvleteren the N321 makes a sharp bend to the left for going further to Poperinge, as soon as you leave this village the abbey is already signposted with: St. Sixtusabdij. There are several narrow country roads (a few km) from the N321 to the abbey, look out carefully for local traffic, like tractors.
I know this is an old thread, but I think it is worth it to resurrect it. I am currently in Poperinge, fresh off the visit to In de Vrede earlier today. Per the earlier suggestion, I also had a glass of Westy XII at Cambrinus in Bruges yesterday. I would say that if you can get out to In de Vrede, DO IT. Yes, you can get the beer in Bruges, but it was 1) almost 12 Euro, about three times the price you pay at In de Vrede, and 2) I don't know whether Cambrinus had really old bottles or if they had a bad batch, but it tasted way better at the source. The beer is poured from bottles at In de Vrede, too, but they must have more recent or better quality stock. My guess is that not many people order this stuff at Cambrinus, so their Westy bottles must sit around forever.
Plus, Poperinge is a cute little town to check out while you're in the area :)