After three days in Brussels, My parents and I drove around the northwest countryside of Belgium making some brewery stops along the way. First up was a brewery that was about 20 minutes north of Brussels called Het Anker. This brewery was written into the trip because of its location and a good review from a travel book my mother bought (grrreat). Het Anker is the brewery responsible for Gouden Carolus and Dentergems white beer.
I ended trying their whole lineup and I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet berry beer as well as the clean palate that all the beers shared. Though this brewery wasn’t my favorite it was still a great way to start the day.
Next brewery on our tour was the elusive St. Sixtus Abbey of Westvleteren. Renown for having “The best beer in the world”, Westy is a brewery that in the middle of beautiful farmland. We even turned into a farm trying to find this place. Once you pass a school, the abbey is tucked away behind the tall walls that surround the monastery and the school. Its weird, but the vibe reminded of a sort of California olive garden. For a Monday afternoon the place was packed with people, some of them being children since many of the beer gardens in Belgium seemed to be “family” friendly.
Only 3 beers are made here, and all of them were delicious. The blond and the 8 were both well balanced beers, but the 12 really takes the cake. I even got my mother drinking it by the time we left. Another very laid back Belgian afternoon surrounded with amazing beer and very friendly people, the name of the garden really rings true, “In de Verde” which translates to “in the peace”.
After Westy we headed to Brugge to enjoy some canals and De Halve Maan brewery. It is located very close to the center of this walkable city. The beer was good, but compared to the other breweries on this trip, it really didn’t hold up. All the beer was slightly unbalanced and just a bit to assertive for my liking.
Last up was the Trappist brewery Westmalle. Once again, the brewery is closed to visitors, but across the street is a big beer garden (another olive garden vibe). Westmalle fresh was much better than what we get here and the cheese was lovely. I was also surprised to see how large Westmalle is. The religious connection did not stop them making a pretty damn big brewery.
All in all, I would live in Belgium in a heart beat. Friendly people, welcoming cities, and some of the best beer in the world. I would go back tomorrow if I could. Now its time to start planning on visiting the rest of the country. GO TO BELGIUM!!