World Drinking Tour 2009 – Poperinge, Westvleteren and Brussels

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Jul 10th, 2009
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Yeah, I’ve done a pretty crap job at keeping this blog up-to-date. I can’t believe I didn’t file a trip report about the Belgian beer bar in Grenoble (Freres Berthom) … or the 2009 tour planning session at the PorterHouse earlier this year. For that matter, where’s the report on the late spring scouting trip to Brussels, where we’ve identified a few more great bars to go to when the Delirium and Floris are overrun during the beer festival?

But I’m here to make up for all that. After all, who wants to hear about things after the fact?

This year’s Belgian Beer trip will be one for the ages.

Next week, Keef turns 60.

And you know what that means … yes, that’s right, it gives us an excuse to justify another Belgian Beer Weekend trip to Brussels.

We’re calling this year’s trip, 60 Beers for 60 Years. September 2 – 7, 2009.

But it’s more that that. We’re talking about Keef here … the man, the myth, the legend …

The man who slept in a bunker on the golf course outside of the Skimmington Castle.

The man who drank 14 Westmalle Tripels and was still able to get up the next morning and supervise the unpacking of a trade show booth.

The man who drank the lifetime limit of Kasteel Blondes in a single evening and still made the trip to St. Sixtus at Westvleteren the next afternoon. (In case you’re curious, it is only possible to drink 12 Kasteel Blondes in a single lifetime. Beyond that your body will simply not accept any more. I’ve watched Keith try on several occasions, but it always ends up a nasty mess. You have to admire his determination though.)

To belatedly celebrate Keef’s 60th birthday in September, it is only fitting that we pay a visit to the St. Sixtus Monastery in Westvleteren, Belgium. (And I believe St. Sixtus is the patron saint of sixty plus year old beer drinkers.) With enough participants, it should be easy enough for the group to enjoy at least 60 beers at St. Sixtus … after all, I was there with Keef, Dale and Allan several years ago when the four of us ordered 14 in a single round. That was the night we broke the sofa in Keef’s room and almost burned down a hotel in Bruges … so this time we should probably stay in Poperinge.

I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself … but here’s the plan … in honor of Keef’s birthday, you have 5 days to enjoy 60 quality Belgian beers with Keef.

And if you’ve never met Keef before, what better way to make his acquaintance.

The first part of the trip is an excursion out to the Westvleteren monastery where we’ll debate the merits of the Westvleteren 12 against the under appreciated Westvleteren Blond. Then we’ll convene in Brussels for the Belgian Beer Weekend ( Hopefully you can make the whole trip … but if you can’t … consider joining us at least for the beer festival in Brussels.

The tour starts in Poperinge on the evening of Wednesday, September 2. Some of us will be meeting at the Brussels Airport to catch the 15.30 train that will deposit us in Poperinge at 18.00.

There are two bars in Poperinge that have over 100 beers … Café de la Paix on the Grote Markt (, conveniently just a few doors down from the hotel … and the bar in the Hotel Palace ( which seems to have the reputation as being the best beer bar in Poperinge … I look forward to comparing them for myself!

We plan to spend Thursday, September 3 at the In de Vrede Café, across the street from the Westvleteren monastery ( Join us in the café and wallow in the Westvleteren 12 and Blond … be a glutton … order them 4 at a time if you’re so moved (seriously, the service is a little slow, so you might at least want to double up … even if you don’t double up the double ups).

I can almost taste the Westvleteren 12 right now.
Actually I might start with the Westvleteren Blond … what could quite possibly be the best summer beer … (ignore the reviews that don’t rate the Blond that high … it does not travel as well as the 12 … the 12 improves with a little age … the Blond should be drank fresh).
My day is shot now … I can’t concentrate any more.
At the end of the day, taxi back to Poperinge … have a meal … maybe forget that you just had a meal … and have another one. You’re on vacation (quite possibly a mental vacation at that), so it’s your option.

On Friday, September 4, we’ll train back to Brussels for the weekend.

The plan is to arrive in Brussels early enough to pay a visit to the Cantillon Brewery ( They close at 17.00, so we’re going to try to make it by around 15.00 or 15.30.

Then it’s time for another Belgian Beer Weekend ( on the Grand Place in Brussels.

As usual, we’ll stay at the Ibis Off Grand Place … be sure to make a reservation! (

We’ve done a research mission and found a few great alternative destinations for those times when the Delirium Café and Floris Bar are too crowded.

Of course, if you’ve yet to make this trip, the Delirium Café and Floris Bar will be your new home away from home. (Well, actually some days it can be a challenge to get out of the Hotel Ibis bar, a true home away from home.)

To whet your appetite, here are some past trip reports: