Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Last Two Trappist Breweries

Kirk had to work Sunday a couple weekends ago; Belgian busy season in full swing! On Saturday we completed a list we had been working on since coming to Belgium by day-tripping to Westmalle and Achel. There are six Belgian Trappist breweries - these are two of them. Now we have been to them all. Trappist beers are made by monks in abbeys using special techniques. Belgium is renowned for their brews; it is a part of the culture and we of course wanted to experience and taste them all.We pulled out the "Beer Routes" map given to us by a fellow expat and off we went into the cold.
We found the Westmalle Abbey and were initially confused where the cafe was, but with some direction corrections we were there. We spied this walking trail and wished we had time to hike and knock on the abbey door to buy some fresh cheese from the monks like they suggest in the article, but we will have to try it next time.

I have been shocked at how kid-friendly all of these cafes are. Westmalle had a designated play room laden with toys. The wait staff also showered Connor with attention, crayons and lollipops while we lunched.
Connor was a fan of their toys, especially the pink baby carriage in the background.
There was a Westmalle playground. A big one. You know we were all about that!
Who knew that a monk's brewery would double as a playland? They catered even more to Connor than to their beer tasters. Smart monks!
Next up was Achel.
Connor was refreshed and ready to play again after napping along the trip.
Belgie "het bierland" - Belgium is Beer Country. Just look at how many beers are made in our tiny country!
We had a fun, relaxing time at Achel. No playground here, but lots of space to run around and laugh while the adults tasted the beer.
Connor is on a Winnie the Pooh kick right now. Piglet made the trip with us to the breweries. He made a super friend along the way, providing much entertainment!
In order to properly drink Belgian beers you have to have the correct, designated glass from which to drink. Westmalle beer has a Westmalle glass and so on... Achel had an extensive shop where Kirk was able to round out his souvenir collection of Trappist glasses. It all seems an excessive amount of glass, but whatever - I guess it is part of the traditional allure.
That night we snuggled in and invited Dallas and Thomas to a Board Game Night dinner. I made Coq au Vin - in honor of Julia Child, but not her recipe. Southern Living, much simpler. It turned out well. We played the strategy game "Scotland Yard" all night and had vanilla ice cream with Speculoos cookies crunched in. Mmmm.
Scotland Yard is a spy game where a Mr. X travels throughout the London game board via public transport while the other players, the detectives, work together to "find" him. The black cap with the visor helps shield Mr. X's eyes while he plots his next move - so you can't see where his eyes looking and scheming.
A great, cozy day of responsible beer tasting, topped off by a fantastic night with dear friends!


Stacie B said...

Funny...Grant is all about winnie the pooh now too. He and Connor can compare notes! :)

Dallas said...

Oh goodness, Thomas has crazy hair in that photo - thank goodness he got a haircut this last weekend. Thanks for inviting us over - we had a great time.