Westvleteren beer road trip
posted January 16, 2013 2:13 AM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Sat February 2 at 1:30 PM, In de Vrede
Donkerstraat, 8640 Vleteren, Belgium (Map & Directions)
Weekend trip to Gent, combined with a visit to the Sint-Sixtus brewery in West Flanders to collect cases of Westvleteren beer. Weekend of 2nd Feb.
The main idea is to visit the brewery and collect beer, but Gent is a beautiful city and a great place to spend a weekend.

The likely date/time to collect is between 1:30 and 3:30 on Saturday 2nd February. However, we might not be able to reserve beer for the date that we want, so this trip is completely provisional until we can confirm. Hopefully we can do that sometime next week.

We already have four people committed. We plan to drive down Friday night, and book rooms for two nights, with free cancellation in case of problems.

The more people (and cars!) we can arrange, the more beer we can take back, and the more fun we'll have!
posted by daveje to Meetup (107 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Dat is geweldig! Er is ook een Belgische mefite, Akeem, in Gent die wil komen tot een meetup.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:23 AM on January 16, 2013

The train for me takes about an hour, but I'll probably book a place to stay with you guys.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:32 AM on January 16, 2013

Sounds like a plan again. I know of one Gent based occasional MeFite who might be interested as well, so will contact them to see if they are.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:04 AM on January 16, 2013

Bring free research :p

*runs, fast*
posted by infini at 3:04 AM on January 16, 2013

Eh, time to call him out again? ;p
posted by infini at 3:05 AM on January 16, 2013

I volunteer [within limits of everyone's public comfort levels] to document the Great MetaFilter Beer Run. Maybe fuzz out the faces but keep the places and the landscapes and the beer.
posted by infini at 3:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hotel is booked for myself, Liz, likeso and infini, staying at the Best Western Residence Cour St Georges, revoltingly in the centre of Gent.
posted by daveje at 3:34 AM on January 16, 2013

As I just mentioned to likeso, I'm really looking forward to a chance to hang out with you guys again, we can all drink rare Belgian beer together and try to avoid discussing the Zwarte Pieten thread so we don't get beaten up by passer by :)
posted by Blasdelb at 5:43 AM on January 16, 2013

This beer of which you speak...it is different than our Local Brews?

I am intrigued and will check my agenda.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:07 AM on January 16, 2013

Should be able to come by since it's a weekend -- Blasdelb has been bragging about y'all and I'd love to meet you! (And drink beer. Beer is great.)
posted by Leucistic Cuttlefish at 12:55 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Booked the hotel; see y'all there.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:16 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aw, I'd hoped to make this trip whenever it happened, but that weekend's not possible for me. Have fun!
posted by knile at 12:18 AM on January 17, 2013

When on Friday are you planning on being in Gent? I have my last exam that afternoon, and I'm headed to Antwerp that night, but maybe we could meet up for a beer in between?
posted by Karmeliet at 12:21 AM on January 17, 2013

Probably won't get there till around 9, depending on traffic.

BTW, how late do the restaurants stay open in Gent?
posted by daveje at 1:04 AM on January 17, 2013

I can easily come before 9 and grab a beer with you if time ends up being limiting.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:23 AM on January 17, 2013

BTW, if anyone else is coming with a car, could they make themselves known? Thanks.
posted by daveje at 2:23 AM on January 17, 2013

Wow! You're coming to my ol' town! I have been living in Gent for nearly 7 years now... happy to show you around!

Organizing a beer pick-up, for a specific day, can be a mission though.

As of typing there are no times that the 'beer hotline' is open, but maybe someone called in yesterday?
posted by channey at 2:47 AM on January 17, 2013

We want the 2nd, so hopefully the hotline is open sometime next week.

And something for Blasdelb: apparently they sell their yeast. It's actually from Westmalle, but if it's liquid yeast it could be worthwhile ;)
posted by daveje at 2:52 AM on January 17, 2013

I'll be coming by train, as I have no drivers license.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:02 AM on January 17, 2013

Sounds like a Gent Meetup in its own right should also be considered?
posted by infini at 3:12 AM on January 17, 2013

I mean the city, cos I'm a lady
posted by infini at 3:12 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well yeah. Do the Vleteren roadtrip, dump the goods in the hotel, go out and sit in a pub not drinking the precious? Sounds good to me.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:10 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

We need more cars to do the actual brewery trip. I can just about squeeze in Martin, but that's all.

I'm expecting that we'll all have lunch on the Saturday at In de Vrede, which is the cafe next to the monastery. Where everyone *except* the driver (sigh), can have a fresh bottle of the precious to drink with their lunch.
posted by daveje at 5:34 AM on January 17, 2013

How many seats are we currently short for everyone who has expressed interest?
posted by Blasdelb at 5:55 AM on January 17, 2013

Just you atm, but it's early days.
posted by daveje at 6:25 AM on January 17, 2013

Speaking of being short, since I had to book a double bedroom anyway, I do have a space available if somebody can't get a room in time. Non-smoking, non-murderers prefered.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:46 AM on January 17, 2013

Anyone know of any decent B&B style or boutique hotels in the general vicinity? I'd like to make this as little like my business travel as possible if I can make it.

And I will NOT eat the waterkonijn.

Well, ok, maybe I will. Had worse.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:55 AM on January 17, 2013

digitalprimate, have you looked on AirBNB? This one has a bike not a breakfast. This one is a boat.

I stayed at the Ibis the only time I've been to Gent and it was very business-trip-like. The hotel, not the trip.
posted by knile at 9:44 AM on January 17, 2013

I call dibs on sharing Martin's spot, was meaning to get around to booking a place this weekend but am not bored of business travel and this makes it simple.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2013

(Gentenaar speaking) I have a car if that helps... minus the front seat for the mrs, there's three seats in the back if folk want to get friendly.

Happy to make a trip out yonder to the brewery with you lot!
posted by channey at 6:15 AM on January 18, 2013

channey, that would be just brilliant. Many thanks.
posted by daveje at 12:38 AM on January 19, 2013

Hey, guys? Guys? Can you do me a favor and fail to properly ration your purchases, so that you're forced to repeat this awesomeness sometime this summer or fall, after logicpunk and I have moved to Gent? Please? Pretty please?
posted by amelioration at 7:25 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm sure we'll need more beer by then, but make sure to let us know when you have a good idea of when you're coming so we can have a meetup!
posted by Blasdelb at 7:46 AM on January 19, 2013

Amelioration - when you get here (Ghent!) let me know. I try to talk myself into making the long drive to Westvleteren every few months, but somehow it never happens unless someone else pushes me out the door!
posted by channey at 8:29 AM on January 19, 2013

We'll definitely set up another meetup when we arrive, which we expect to be May or June. Can't wait to meet you all!
posted by amelioration at 10:22 AM on January 19, 2013

What are you coming over for? and for how long? I came over (from my native Australia) for six months in 2006 and couldn't bring myself to leave!
posted by channey at 12:44 AM on January 20, 2013

Ok - I see that the Sint-Sixus website has updated the beer reservation hotline calender.

Times to call to reserve maximum 2 crates of Trappist Westvleteren 12 (only 12 is available.. they limit beer reservation to one brew type at a time)

    Monday: 10-> 12
    Tuesday: 9:30 -> 12
    Wednesday: 8:10 -> 12
    Thursday: 8:10 -> 12

There is a limit of 2 crates per car, which means that all drivers have to make a call on one of these days, and hope to get through (it took me seventeen calls last time!), reserving two crates to pick up hopefully on the 1st February.

They will ask for your car registration, so if you are planning on using a hire-car this might be difficult.

I am also not sure if they speak English - but you can try and see what happens... Though from reading through this thread it seems most of you are from the Netherlands - so perhaps Dutch won't be a problem!

Having said that though - Dutchies, remember you are calling West Flanders here, so be on your best behaviour and speak nice and slowly for these guys - they're used to a much softer dialect!
posted by channey at 1:03 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll phone tomorrow morning. However, there are 8 of us. Is anyone else going to make a phone call?

I think we should also start talking about who wants what.
posted by daveje at 3:01 AM on January 20, 2013

Yes, how do you divide the two crates per car between the passengers?

How many bottles pre crate, anybody remember?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2013

Its 24 bottles per crate.

I propose we divide the total number of bottles we're entitled to buy for the cars we bring by the total number of passengers, see if there is anyone who wants to buy a number below that amount, and then divy up the remaining bottles minus one 12° for jessamyn. Everyone then paying for the correct share of what they receive because we can do basic algebra.

In the next few days I should know if I've got a second plus 1 who would be bringing a car, I'll make sure I make the calls with a Flemish speaking colleague right there.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2013

I propose we divide the total number of bottles we're entitled to buy for the cars we bring by the total number of passengers,

Not wishing to put any cats among pigeons, but I think drivers should get a bit extra here. It's a good few hours driving in total, plus responsibility for the vehicle and the hassle of reserving on the beer hotline. Without the cars, there are no crates. Drivers should be compensated for their efforts.

Maybe for each car, one crate goes to the driver, and the second crate is divided equally among the remaining passengers?

It's quite likely we'll find somewhere selling the beer in Gent if anybody wants more than that.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's quite likely we'll find somewhere selling the beer in Gent if anybody wants more than that. I have never, ever, seen a store, bar or restaurant selling Westvleteren... but maybe I've just been looking in the wrong places!

Drivers: If you're not sure about calling tomorrow in het Nederlands and want me to call on your behalf, PM me your car number plate (if you know it!) and I'll try to call on your behalf tomorrow (if, or course, I am able to get through to the brewery!)

Veel succes morgen, hoor!
posted by channey at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2013

In de Vrede (the bar/shop opposite the brewery) usually carries six-packs of the 6, 8, and 12, plus gift packs containing all three plus a glass. I think the packs are around 20-25 euros.
posted by daveje at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2013

Not wishing to put any cats among pigeons, but I think drivers should get a bit extra here.

Seems fair.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:39 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been on the phone for nearly 21 minutes.. trying.. and trying again.. feels like I'm buying glastonbury tickets..!

Any successful purchases yet?
posted by channey at 1:21 AM on January 21, 2013

Nope. I've had one actual busy signal, and the rest of the time the call simply fails.

They should have some kind of queuing system: "Al onze medewerkers zijn in gesprek. Een ogenblik geduld aub. Er zijn nog 74 wachten voor u."
posted by daveje at 1:40 AM on January 21, 2013

Goddammit. I got the phone to actually ring, but no-one picked up.

I'm thinking very un-monklike thoughts atm.
posted by daveje at 1:47 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Once you meet the guy at the beer sales place, it all makes a little more sense.. he's a charmer!!

It's hard though to think of the brewery though as a "bunch of chaps that like making beer" until you've actually been there - they're incredibly low key and grandpa-ish

posted by channey at 1:53 AM on January 21, 2013

Things learnt today: iPhone call history only shows you the last 100 calls made to a single phone number.. My redial finger is getting sore :D
posted by channey at 1:54 AM on January 21, 2013

I have learned a deeper lesson: iPhone only remembers your last 100 calls period.
posted by daveje at 2:02 AM on January 21, 2013

I'm through! Pickup 15:00.
posted by daveje at 2:07 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Arrggh! My redial finger is getting soooore!
posted by channey at 2:13 AM on January 21, 2013

I used a redial thumb, maybe you'll have better luck with that ;)
posted by daveje at 2:16 AM on January 21, 2013

oooh it's rinnnnggginnngg...!
posted by channey at 2:43 AM on January 21, 2013

Woohoo!! Pickup 15:30!
posted by channey at 2:44 AM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jackpot!! Congratulations daveje and channey for such superb coordination!
posted by infini at 4:12 AM on January 21, 2013

tl;dr The ultimate Metafilter beer run is a go!
posted by infini at 4:13 AM on January 21, 2013

Wow! Can't make this but will be on the lookout for other Benelux meetups in future.
posted by wingless_angel at 11:21 AM on January 22, 2013

*shakes fist in jealousy*
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:11 PM on January 22, 2013

Pickup for Saturday is now full, ie, we can't reserve any more crates.

Did anyone else reserve anything?
posted by daveje at 5:52 AM on January 23, 2013

.. wait daveje - so you went through the phone-call mission a second time?
posted by channey at 6:30 AM on January 23, 2013

Surely you jest, I simply looked at the reservation calendar.
posted by daveje at 6:44 AM on January 23, 2013

Westvleteren 12 opnieuw beste bier van de wereld. [article, source]

I won't be able to join you on the beer run or on Saturday evening. I am free on Friday after 9pm; has anything been planned yet?
posted by Akeem at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2013


Sigh, not again.

No plans, can't predict when we'll arrive.

Do restaurants/bars still take orders around 9:30 or 10 in Gent?
posted by daveje at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2013

Well I'm all clear to be at the Hague at 10am so I can be safely back in Amsterdam well before 1700.
posted by infini at 11:23 AM on January 28, 2013

I'll be in Gent sometime in the afters; around fourish, if the railways are to be believed.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:51 PM on January 28, 2013

Gent (and by proxy, most of Belgium) is quite hard to find anything serving food after 9 - but bars will be going on all night long.

I've got some work function on until 7ish in some part o' belgium, but will be in Gent after from around 8.

You lot are all staying in the Best Western on Botermarkt, happy to meet up at a bar someplace and potentially take y'all out on a pub crawl!
posted by channey at 4:01 PM on January 28, 2013

Ok, we'll eat on the way - there's a decent place to eat at the border - and hopefully get there around 9 or 9:30.
posted by daveje at 12:40 AM on January 29, 2013

Just a thought, but the Sint-Bernardus brewery is very close by, and they brewed the Westvleteren beers under license before the abbey decided to start brewing themselves again. Sint-Bernardus still use the original recipes, and their beers are extremely close to the current Westvleteren beers.

We can try to join a brewery tour for Saturday, say around 12. It's 12.50 per person, but you see a film of the brewing process, get a complete tour of the brewery, a tasting in the cafe, and everyone leaves with a giftbox with four beers, including a glass.

Are people interested in doing this? No guarantees, because they need a minimum of 15 people, but we could maybe join an existing tour.
posted by daveje at 1:23 AM on January 29, 2013

I am super interested in doing that!

Incidentally, I should arrive at around 6:30pm on Friday
posted by Blasdelb at 1:42 AM on January 29, 2013

Yes, I'm interested, I need to learn more about beer to balance the whisky heritage tour in Edinburgh.
posted by infini at 3:18 AM on January 29, 2013

Right, I've arranged everything but it's been a while since I've been to Belgium, so where's the best place to change Belgian euros?
posted by MartinWisse at 8:48 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are they of different value than the euros in NL or is this an elaborate joke I'm not getting?
posted by infini at 8:56 AM on January 29, 2013

I think you get a better rate for Dutch euros in Wallonia than in Flanders, but I don't think we're going to Wallonia.
posted by daveje at 9:08 AM on January 29, 2013

There arn't really any in Leuven, but if we end up in Brussels for any reason this place would work marvelously, its right next to the Jeanneke Pis.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:49 AM on January 29, 2013

My top Ghent bars that will accept your dutchie euros, in no particular order

1. Het Spijker - a so-so beer selection, but amazing building and possibly the best toilets in Belgium (View of the river while you pee! Incredible)
2. Waterhuis aan de Bierkant Probably Ghent's answer to Brussels' Delirium Cafe. Huge beer selection, always a little too full, and not particularly pleasant
3. Dulle Griet - A must visit on any trip, if only for their famous "Kwak Max", a good 1.2L of fancy belgian brew served in a very .. unique.. way.
4. Trolle Kelder - One of my favourites, huge range of quality beers and a rolling 'beer of the month' which is always served 2 for the price of 1. Be warned though, and night out at the Troll Kelder becomes a difficult morning following!
5. Pink Flamingo's - Kitchy, quirky and full of aging hipsters, this bar might not be for everyone but it must at least be admired for its ever changing wall of kitch. Caution they have La Chouffe on tap, which in my world, always leads to hangover as one is never enough!
posted by channey at 11:28 PM on January 29, 2013

I have mastered the art of drinking from a normal sized kwak glass, first while sober then drunk, but have really wanted to try what it tastes like from the tap! This sounds like its going to be great.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:18 AM on January 30, 2013

Looks like I'll be picking up the car earlier than expected, so we should be in Ghent around 8, plus or minus. Could the rest of the team pick a bar that does food, and we'll meet you there?
posted by daveje at 2:09 AM on January 30, 2013

Bars with food aren't very typical in Gent - the bars I posted above serve nothing more than cheese & mustard.

Cafe Rene is probably the best bet, which serves food (sandwiches, meatballs, and surprisingly good cheeseburgers) until around 23:00. Here's a Google map from Best Western to Cafe Rene.

Other than Rene, there are Irish pubs that will serve you a burger and a guiness, but that kind of misses the point of a flemish pub crawl!
posted by channey at 2:55 AM on January 30, 2013

I'm sure I've eaten at the Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, or was that the attached restaurant next door?
posted by daveje at 3:04 AM on January 30, 2013

Waterhuis just has the usual bar food (Cheese, bread, salami, you can see the whole list at the end of their menu), but just next door to the Waterhuis is Chez Leontine, which according to their site is open until 10pm. Will probably need a reservation for a Friday night though.

They serve a pretty adequate version of stoverij (stewed beef chuck based on a dark flemish ale like rochefort 10 or westmalle dubbel) if my memory serves me correctly..
posted by channey at 3:28 AM on January 30, 2013

Blasdelb, are you coming by train? I'm taking a 7:45 train to Antwerp, maybe cross paths at the station?
It's practically criminal to go to Waterhuis and not stop in at 't Druppelkot for a jenever while you're there. It's even cooler if you take the back entrance. :)

Also: is it too soon to start planning a Gentse Feesten meetup?
posted by Karmeliet at 7:37 AM on January 30, 2013

Then maybe the thing to do is just meetup in a bar somewhere, then wander around for a decent place to eat.
posted by daveje at 9:21 AM on January 30, 2013

I'll be arriving by train from Leuven through Brussels, and I'll probably be hungry/thirsty. Is there a nice cafe near the station those of us who are arriving earlier could meet up at?

We should totally have a Gentse Feesten meetup.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:24 AM on January 31, 2013

I saw a beer guide to Gent talking about a good bar close to the station, but to be honest, I think you'd be better off getting a tram to the centre and finding a bar there.
posted by daveje at 2:15 AM on January 31, 2013

FYI - Use-It's guide to Ghent is a great way to get to know the city
posted by channey at 7:31 AM on January 31, 2013

Hey everyone - I'm not going to be able to make it :(

Next time!

Have fun, and do get up to some mischief!
posted by digitalprimate at 1:00 AM on February 1, 2013

So we are now well on our way, expecting to arrive around 7.30. Shall we aim to meet around 8? Blasdelb, please call Likeso.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2013

Where are you all meeting?
posted by channey at 10:28 AM on February 1, 2013

We're in the hotel, first room. Knock if you're here.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:40 AM on February 1, 2013

We're all meeting up at the Gent Best Western in the historical center, at the moment Martin and I are here and Likeso, Elizabeth the Thirteenth, and daveje are on their way within 15-20 minutes.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:45 AM on February 1, 2013

See you guys in an hour or so! I'll give Martin a buzz around 930
posted by channey at 11:35 AM on February 1, 2013

Well, now. That was completely lovely. Good food, good beer and great companions. I know! Idea: let's do it again tomorrow! ;)

Breakfast around 10, hit the cathedral, start beer run at 13 or so yeh? See y'all then!
(and Akeem, see you Sunday :)
posted by likeso at 4:53 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


(fists punching air, in chorus) "Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech!" ... "Yeah, I've lived here for 14 years but I had to look this place up on a map." ... "We should totally go line dancing. We should totally do that. Right now." ... "The cop said I was doing 52 fucking miles an hour on my bike in that hurricane." ... "Can you handle jenever now, guys? Lemme take you through the back entrance."... "Now, give him a shoe. Yes, security for the glass. They'll hoist it up. You'll get it back." ... "Actually, I've got my next post all keyed up and ready to go after 00:00." ... "I'm going to be too hungover for the altar. Seriously." ...
posted by likeso at 6:16 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just going to call it- metafilter.be totally destroyed .nl
posted by channey at 3:55 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

In your dreams.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:31 PM on February 2, 2013

Just got home safe with the beer.

Make sure to check in in about 48 hours to let me know that I haven't given you all norovirus! In the meantime, a science post I made, for your edification.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:23 AM on February 3, 2013

So, in parallel, I was in Bruges yesterday for the bier festival. They ran out of Westvleteren seconds before we got to the front of the line. My friend from US/CH bought bottles at Bierkoning when we got back to AMS. I merely picked up a cold/flu. Sounds like you guys had fun!
posted by knile at 1:16 PM on February 3, 2013

Everyone, thanks for great weekend and a totally successful process of exotic beer hunting and gathering. Let's do that again sometime!
posted by daveje at 2:38 PM on February 3, 2013

Seconded! And thank you, daveje, for all of your organizing and driving!

A great time was had by (almost) all - poor Blasdelb missed the actual run and all the fun on Saturday. Though he did get the beer. So there's that. :)

Norowatch initiated. Countdown proceding without incident.
posted by likeso at 3:23 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oldest hotel in Europe?
posted by daveje at 5:13 AM on February 4, 2013

I would like to upload my pictures of the meet; anybody not wanting their picture online?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:33 AM on February 4, 2013

As long as you have no happy snaps of me and my non-internet-friendly-hat-flaps, go crazy! :D
posted by channey at 12:08 PM on February 4, 2013

First pictures up; inanimate objects only.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:10 PM on February 4, 2013

Three days and still no noro. Are we in the clear?
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:44 AM on February 5, 2013

All good in Ghent!
posted by channey at 12:28 PM on February 5, 2013

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