Breweries "Visited"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Religion In a Glass

Beer #621 Westvleteren Blond / Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren, Westvleteren, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Blond and Westvleteren 8

And so we come to one of the reasons I thought going on the Beercycling trip would be a lot of fun - getting to Westvleteren to sample some of the rarest - and widely regarded as best - beers in the world: the abbey beers of Sint-Sixtus.
Time to wandelroute!
Marci has done a far better job than I could on explaining Trappist beers, so I'll just link to her comments and move along.  Visitors aren't actually allowed in the Abbey where the beers are made, but we were able to make a stop and pay our respects in a grotto on the grounds with a religious shrine.  As it was said (and I'm paraphrasing) while we were there, "a holy spot before we have a holy beer."
Very cool, peaceful spot to contemplate things
Despite not being able to hang out with the monks, the cafe next door had all three varieties of the beer brewed on tap, as well as whatever they want to sell you.  Seriously, some days they have beer for sale, some days gift packs, some days cheese, some days they sell out ad they go all Belgian Soup Nazi and it's NO BEER FOR YOU. Although I doubt they yell when they say this.  To get a full case, you need to call a special number and pray someone answers; they don't, apparently.  If by some small miracle you get them to answer they tell you what day you can come pick up your case, and then do everything short of take a DNA sample to make sure you don't try to buy another case and resell it.  Our group hit the jackpot, as they had an abundance of six pack gift boxes, which came with two glasses.  SCORE!
Did we buy some Westy?  Why, yes.  Yes, we did.
I'm fascinated by these monks.  They only make as much as they need to pay the bills and support the religious order.  If they have a special need, as they did when they needed a new roof in 2012, they release a small bit of beer in America and other places, and watch as beer geeks line up for days to pay exorbitant prices for the rare chance to sample this beer.

Ah, this beer... we ordered and shared all three drafts during our lunch at the cafe.  The Blond pours a hazy gold color, and you get prominent notes of grain, biscuit, and grass, and there's definitely more bitterness than a typical blond.  There's some light citrus in there as well, and drinks very smooth. There's not much malt sweetness, but enough to balance out some of the flavors.  Just a wonderful beer.  While the Westy bruins take all of the credit, this blond holds up to any beer out there.

Thing to Think About Today:
The monks at Sint Sixtus as about as close as I come to believing in religion.  So, let's celebrate with The Shins and a live version of the lovely Saint Simon.   Good night, my friends.

"Nothing really holds a candle to / The solemn warmth you feel inside of you"

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