Even if I managed to reserve some beer, it appears here that I need my own car, or at least one whose plate # I will know long in advance to pick up beer. Has anyone done this? What is the exact procedure?
I live in Amsterdam, and I have not personally been to Westvleteren but I have friends who have made the trip. It turns out that you have a few options:
- You can call and make an appointment and IF you get an appointment then you must drive there at the appointed time to pick up your crate of bier. If you can't make it at the appointed time then you lose out, and you must start the process all over again. I forget how much bier this is for, but I think it is 24-48 bottles. Indeed when you make the appointment then you must supply your license place number which they use to keep track of you. They will not allow you to make 2 appointments with the same license plate number in a 60 day period. Additionally, the phone number you must call to get an appointment is always busy, I have heard of people using automatic redial for hours before they finally get through.
- If you are in the area (again you will need a car, because there is no public transport, and biking there is unreasonable from most places.) You can pop in and there is a small shop next to the monastery where you can buy a 6 pack per person without appointment, and also with out a huge price markup. Of course while you are there you can also eat some good food, and buy other items that the monks make and sell. This is much less hassle, but you cannot get much bier, so it may not be worth trekking all the way out there specifically for this. However if you are in the area already and you have the time to take a small detour then you should certainly pop in for lunch or dinner and get some tasty brew.
- Finally if you are in the Benelux region you can sometimes find Westvleteren in local shops or cafes, however the prices range from 10-16 euros per bottle (in Amsterdam) which is a lot more than you will pay at the monastery. (However, beer bought at the monastery isn't meant for selling, it's meant for private consumption, it says so every time you buy some)
In addition to what Chris has answered, here are some nice to knows:
To see which beer is available at which time etc, look at this page: http://www.sintsixtus.be/bierverkoopactueel.htm
In addition to the 60 days you need to wait for your license plate, also your phone number will be blocked once you made an order for the beer. Callers with an anonymous phone number will be blocked automatically.
One crate of 24 bottles costs:
- Trappist Westvleteren Blond (5,8 vol.% alc.) 30,00 euro
- Trappist Westvleteren Acht (dark) (8 vol.% alc.) 35,00 euro
- Trappist Westvleteren Twaalf (dark) (10,2 vol.% alc.) 40,00 euro
The Trappist Westvleteren Twaalf is the dark beer that won several prizes and is world famous. In my opinion, the Blond and the Acht are a bit overrated (opinion!!).
You could in fact go by buss, but that would be really complicated and almost impossible to do, so indeed it's better to go by car/taxi.
In the end, if you think it's not worth it, you could try the St. Bernardus Abt 12 beer. It's is brewed almost the exact same way and it tastes pretty much the same. The Sint Bernardus Abt 12 is basically for sale throughout whole Belgium in every big grocery store (or beer/drink shop).
In addition to the abbey, you can also buy the beer in the café/restaurant nearby. However, depending which beer is left over, that beer will be for sale and you can only buy 1 pack of 6 bottles per person (if there would be any left!). You could also just go there and sit and enjoy a Westvleteren there because they sell them there :). You could also buy glasses and some other souvenirs at the café. They have a little shop.
If you have any questions in addition, please don't hesitate!
Just returned from the abbey after collecting some westy 12 Being as I was going in friends car the monk takes your name and used that instead of car reg is on his paperwork The monk also asked me if my car reg was still the same! Must put car reg numbers to phone numbers from the last time we managed to get a booking . Clever monks While there we collected another 12 bottles each from the inn they had all 3 for sale And yes it is worth seeking out We drove over 700mile round trip from UK to collect