According to my calendar it is March. Yes! And with our adopted adult family member, Uncle Johan, in tow, we made like adventurers and headed (finally!) to the beer holy grail, West Vleteren. You may not necessarily consider this to be a family destination per say but I would dispute that as long as you have a begrudging sober driver in tow and a willingness to head to the middle of nowhere to take part in a one of a kind Belgian experience.
I leave it to the fabulous Alison of Cheeseweb to explain the background here. Suffice to say, this is a very exclusive trappist beer than is scarcer than hen’s teeth outside of Belgium. A friend in Sweden recently reported seeing it on a menu for almost 60 EUR a bottle. Ouch.
So after a 90 minute drive, we arrived in said middle of nowhere. We wondered if it would be crowded on a Sunday but we were one of maybe 20 people in the whole of the In de Vrede cafe. Following Alison’s suggestions we tried the sandwich and ice cream a la maison. There were indeed fabulous! We also sampled the three beers on offer. 🙂 The cafe was bigger than expected and beautiful. They did have a terrace and small playground. I can imagine it is a very nice place on long summer days or even crisp fall evenings. On our early spring morning the terrace was closed. :p
After lunch we walked around a bit and stepped in to the Pilgrimage Room at the Sint Sixtus Abbey. Truly an austere space and gave you a small slice of the monastic simplicity that rules the house.
If your littles can survive a bit of a drive, I think it is a great destination to get out of town. Out-of-town visitors are sure to enjoy the experience. Without a doubt West Vleteren is a must for any Brussels experience bucket list. Happy Drinking!