Log in or Sign up
Café "In de Vrede"
Taps: - / Bottles: 3
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery, Store ]
phone: +32 (0)57 40 03 77
Legally, the only retail vendor for the famous Westvleteren Trappist beers. Blonde, 8, and 12 are available, plus a selection of cheese and meats.
« first ‹ prev
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I had a bottle to Westvleteren 12 at the Locus Publicus in Delft in 2003 before I understood what I was drinking. Fast forward to Belgium 2012: a trip to In de Vrede to drink Westvleteren as close to the brewery as possible was a no brainer (no public tours of the abbey).
We stayed at the Palace Hotel so that we could get an early start and be able to walk to bus stop. To get to In de Vrede, an intrepid beer drinker can take the De Lijn Belbus 69. A reservation can be made up to two weeks in advance, according to one website I read, but the official information said at least two hours in advance. The De Lijn representative, who spoke excellent English, said that it's a minimum two hour wait from the time a pick up call is made. When making a reservation to drink Westvleteren, the local name seems to simply be "the abbey." Saying anything else is superfluous.
In Poperinge, the bus stop is either at the train station or at the market downtown. We did the market downtown location that's just off the main square between the public bathrooms on one side of the road and a big church on the other. It showed up right on time. Several locals were on the bus and we were the only ones to get off at the abbey, which is conveniently the first stop. It's August now, so the hops are full and heavy on the vine as we see the town sign for the village of Westvleteren. The bus stop is right outside of the abbey itself. Head down the asphalt road beside the abbey, follow the large flags that say Westvleteren to the right, and stroll leisurely down a tree lined sidewalk to In de Vrede.
It is a beautiful day, so we sat in the bier garden in the back. Table service was fairly quick and it's whatever waiter is available. From what I can tell, it's pay as you go so no one has to keep a tab. We paid cash for the convenience, so never tried a credit card.
Gloria, naturally, started with the Bruin 12, and I got a Blonde 6 to taste up the ladder. Unfortunately, it's the height of summer corn and hop crops here, so my allergies are acting up and my senses are not at their best for this bucket list adventure. Imagining a visit to Westvleteren, I never considered that my hay fever that I tried to leave behind in Iowa would re-emerge in this very home-like part of Belgium. Since a non-summer visit isn't an option, I resolve to have a fine day drinking world class beer between sniffles.
The Blonde 6 is a hazy orange with an off white lace down the side of the glass. Slight yeasty nose and spice over a base of a light malt. Not an assertive nose, but pleasant, especially when sipped; the spice is strong in the mouth with a yeasty supplement.
The Bruin 8 is similar to the 12 at first blush. Very similar but lighter all around: color, body and taste. So, on to the 12. Incredible. The hints and tendencies of the 8 are in full bodied flavor for the 12. Exciting that it's so good. I had a secret fear that drinking on site might be disappointing but I should have known better. Thin brown head leaves an elegant lace, which has been light on pours of all three beers, that falls over an opaque, almost root beer colored body. Yeasty spice in the nose supported by fig, dark chocolate, overripe cherry and an almost sour earthiness that even our light summer breeze can't waft away. Taste has a slight yeast and carbonic bite. Sweet finish from a sugary center that balances the beer from front to back. Great beer that rightly deserves its reputation as one of the world's finest.
Lunch was very good but the only option for vegetarians is essentially a cheese sandwich with buttered bread. However, I'm pretty much happy with a big hunk of Gouda cheese. A very Belgian/Dutch lunch that was just fine to get us through the afternoon.
Finally being frustrated by the table service, I started getting 12s from the bar myself to make more of our drinking time. Being served on the patio, I didn't see any of our early glasses poured but confirmed later that everything is served from bottles and not on draft, something I hadn't thought about or seen in my research. When we got a waiter to get us a mid-afternoon dessert, he suggested the Coupe "In de Vrede," which is ice cream made with the bier (though I didn't understand which one but guessing a bruin). Too much whip cream on top for my taste but the sprinkled malt (like the inside of a malted milk ball) made it worthwhile; the beer clearly shows up in the ice cream near the bottom. Pricey but fun to order and probably worth the price of admission for most beer geeks.
Pictures of the cafe, the Belbus and more specific directions at http://pintsizedrevelations.blogspot.com/2013/03/in-de-vrende-near-abbey-st-sixtus.html
05-19-2013 19:46:50 |
More by FightingEntropy
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3 | food: 4 | $$$
Of course the choice in beers is very limited and prices may be a bit steep for Belgian Standards but what you get is very, very, very good:)
Most of the time the place is packed with people and some patience may be required.
The service is good and efficiënt. Nothing out of the ordinary there.
One thing is for sure: Those monks have a very good bussiness plan:)
05-15-2013 07:02:45 |
More by GRUUMSH
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5 | $
Okay, yes, technically the selection is quite limited. But come on now.
The food is simple but refreshing and good, and pairs nicely with their beers.
Obviously, the quality is brilliant. Why else would you come here? It's in the middle of nowhere.
Prices are unbeatable. World class beers for hardly anything.
Great craic to be had here with other visitors. People here are in the know; you don't just stumble in here by accident.
Great service. I've never been when they didn't have gift packs for sale. Every time I've gone, Westvleteren 12 has been available. The servers usually speak at least three languages.
Lots of beer pilgrims show up, and sometimes the Americans can be really annoying with their ignorance and volume, but other than that the environment is fine.
Rarely gets crowded except on release dates.
Definitely somewhere every beer advocate needs to go.
11-06-2012 19:51:21 |
More by kojevergas
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Riding a bicycle from the train station in Poperinge, out the narrow Sint-Sixtusstraat through hop farms, built the anticipation nicely for my first visit--and first taste of Westvleteren.
The patio was closed for the season, but the cafe was reasonably crowded early on the weekday afternoon. The descriptions of the place as a cafeteria aren't terribly far off, though the atmosphere is more comfortable than that--a lunch cafe rather than a dinner cafe. Many apparently-local retirees were there for lunch with coffee or blonde beer.
I received reasonably prompt service and had no significant communication problems, given that I only speak English. I had a chicken aspic sandwich, which was okay. I've learned since that the cheese sandwich is the best dish (and that the ice cream is excellent too).
The gift shop offered gift boxes--two blondes, an 8, a 12 and a chalice for 23 Euro--but had no six packs available when I was there.
I'm not sure why there are minor complaints about the beer selection. The reason we travel to In de Vrede is for the outstanding Westvletern beers, and I enjoyed each of them.
03-09-2012 06:32:00 |
More by JimDH
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
This is one of the places that I most anticipated going when we went to Belgium. While I had previously had all three of the Westvleteren offerings, I was beyond excited to be able to try them at the source.
The atmosphere wasnt quite what I was expecting. The cafe has very modern decor and appears to be a bit of a tourist trap. That aspect of this place is not terribly appealing. However, that has to be balanced again the fact that this is the Westvleteren cafe and there is indeed something magical about having the abbey's beers at one of the cafe's tables.
The selection is exactly as you would expect -- you have a choice between all three Westvleteren beers. I started with the Blonde and Amy had a 12. We later each had an 8, of course taking sips from each other's choices along the way.
The service was quite good. The server was attentive and had no problem communicating with us in English.
I only had the Westy-infused ice cream and a small sandwich, so I can't comment too much on the food, but the ice cream was quite enjoyable. The menu is fairly limited.
All in all, this is a great place to visit. Aside from the cafe, there is also the small shop where you can by glassware ad up to six bottles to go, mixing and matching among whichever of the three beers are available to go at the time.
02-27-2012 12:40:44 |
More by Thorpe429
United Kingdom (England)
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3 | $$
Wide open outside both in front and in the back. inside and out it was more modern than I was expecting, looked like a nice cafeteria with lot's of peopl efrom the comunity having lunch or a snack alongside a world class beer. Just pretty cool to see a pair of grandma's splitting a soup and sandwich each with their own full glass of Westvleteren (no sharing there!) Service was OK, as we only spooke English and our server did not she seemed to try and avoid us, had to get up to get extra napkins and mustard myself. As far as selection, they had 3 beers, be it three of the best beers, still 3 beers means I cannot go scoring this place a 4 or 5 (any othe rplace would get way lower. that being said, quality is way up there. Food was okay, we just got a cheese plate and a sausage . . . the sandwiches looked good, my bad for not getting one. Value was very good as the Westy's were not overpriced like they are everywhere else in the world. The fresh 12 is a bit young but I had to have one (and so do you!), the 8 was very good but the fresh Blonde blew them all away, FANTASTIC!!! If I ever end up there again I will just drink a few of those and be very happy.
01-10-2012 23:58:08 |
More by thepeter
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $
I've been here twice. Both times during the drive (kindly provided by weissbierdrinker...you're the best!) the anticipation is something you don't experience often. The hype and culmination of something coming together is a feeling you don't get alot.
The drive is quite nice, going past hop fields and coming up to the abbey where you always see a monk outside. The two times I was there, construction was taking place, so as per the usual sights in Europe, it was covered in scaffolding and cranes, etc.
We stopped to return bottles and a crate and were told we could buy some beer as well. Maximum of two packs of three beers including the blonde, 8, and 12. Naturally we both took two packs of the three beers and chatted with the beer pick-up monky dude next to skids of westvleteren 12 stacked higher than I stand.
Now to the bar. It's a weird, modern styled place, like a conference centre restaurant with a nice patio that we sat at both times. The service is a little slow but the place gets really busy sometimes and the wait staff work their hardest.
The beers are dirt cheap. How the world allows 'the best beer in the world' to be sold for under five euro is beyond me. The food menu is limited but the cheese sandwich is tasty and comes with some little pickles. You can buy beer when you're leaving the cafe if you're lucky, but only in gift packs, as well as cheese, etc.
The pilgrimage here is definately part of the experience. It's isolation takes effort to get to, but it's worth the trip to try these beers. Doesn't even come close to some of the other great selections in Belgium or the Netherlands, but hell, for some of the best regarded beers in the world, it's a good spot.
11-20-2011 18:05:51 |
More by tbeckett
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
Made the trek out to Westvleteren 4 times to enjoy some food and beers at In de Vrede with family and friends. Each time I was not disappointed, but not blown away either.
The crowd is usually pretty large - ~25 or so tables (inside and outside) - and usually pretty loud. Patrons range from toddlers to elderly. Might be petty, but usually lots of house flies in the restaurant in warmer months - pet peeve of mine, although I doubt unsightly fly tape/paper is the answer.
The fare is pretty light and limited (pates, salads, sandwiches, etc). I wish there were a few more hearty items on the food menu to pair with the beers. Stews, full dinners, etc, would be nice.
Each time I enjoyed a Westy 12 here, the beer seemed "too young"...flavors weren't yet mature and the beer was a bit too hot, compared to older vintages. Then again, it's easy to take shots at one of the best beers in the world. The 8 ended up being much better IMO.
If you show up hoping to take home some beer (and didn't get it from the abbey), you will want to arrive in the "off days" (Tues, Wed) when they first open for the day. If you arrive in the afternoon on a Saturday, there will be no chance of beer on the shelves. Gift packs, cheese, snacks have always been available when I was there.
The cafe is certainly a money-maker for the abbey. In the end, it's a must visit for any Belgian beer fan, or beer fan in general. It's like visiting a religious shrine.
08-24-2011 19:15:52 |
More by LambicKing
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5 | $$
My father and I made a point to visit Café "In de Vrede" during our trip to Belgium this past summer. After touring De Struise Brouwers, we drove a few miles down the road and then through a seemingly endless maze of corn fields before reaching the iconic café of the Westvleteren Abbey. Anticipating something that had a sort of monastic appearance and rustic charm, I was disappointed initially by its country club-esque looking exterior. The interior was unfortunately not much better. The one interesting thing, however, were the ancient looking empty Westvleteren bottles and bottling equipment that adorned the place.
The tables at In de Vrede are set up in long rows, so meeting people while you enjoy a few beers is inevitable. We happened to sit next to a friendly couple who lived in the area. When my father explained to the woman how much he enjoyed a kriek that he tried the previous day, she retorted, "Kriek is beer for a woman. Gueuze is beer for a man." We all had a good laugh at her comment.
The only beers served at the café are, as you might expect, Westvleteren abbey beers - and that was perfectly fine by me. My dad and I enjoyed a couple of Westvleteren 12's with our meal. We ordered the house specialty, a head cheese sandwich. Although many people might be put off by the idea of eating fatty chicken and pork bits suspended in a gelatinous substance, the sandwich was outstanding. In fact, I consider it to be one of the culinary highlights of the trip. For dessert, I tried the Westvleteren 12 ice cream, which was topped with a Westvleteren 12 reduction and served in a Westvleteren chalice. Need I say more?
After lunch, we stopped at the gift shop, which sells Westvleteren beer gift boxes (all three Westvlereren beers and a Westvleteren chalice for 15€), Westvleteren infused cheese and some cured meats.
Prices at the restaurant, as well as in the gift shop, were very reasonable. Service was quite friendly and attentive, and our waiter was gracious enough to translate items off the Flemish menu.
Contrary to what many might think, finding Westvleteren beers in Belgium is not an easy task. For those looking to purchase some (or many) bottles, In de Vrede might be one of your only chances to do so. While the casual beer tourist might be a bit put off by the lengthy drive to the café from any of the major nearby cities, if you schedule a tour at the nearby De Struise Brouwers as well, this can definitely be a worthwhile excursion.
08-14-2011 11:37:04 |
More by Damian
United Kingdom (England)
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $
It's not the food that brings you to this place, nor the quality, nor the view, nor the service. The only reason you go here is because THEY HAVE WESTY ON TAP!!
I tried all 3 of the famous trappists beers. All were great, but the 8 stood out for me and my wife. We ordered sandwiches which were standard fare but again you go here because THEY HAVE WESTYS ON TAP!!!!
of course my wife and kids didn't understand we were eating and drinking in the Mecca of beer, however, I totally appreciated going here. Good luck if you're driving because the lanes are narrow and the bike riders frequent.
08-01-2011 20:15:26 |
More by Squelch
« first ‹ prev
Café "In de Vrede" in Westvleteren, Belgium