Thursday, December 24, 2009

Belgium, trip number 20

A round of Orvals at Biercafe De Kluis.

Urbain Cotteau and Carlo Grootaert at Brouwerij De Struise.

Annick De Splenter at Gent's Stadsbrouwerij Gruut.

Sofie Vanrafelghem.

Stefanie de Vos and Christophe of De Bistronoom, Oostende.

Three weeks without a post.

Eight days in Belgium, a major snowstorm, a head cold, and
two big articles with looming deadlines have sapped all my
extra time away.

I know. Excuses, excuses.

I visited Belgium for the 20th time from December 6-14.
I toured seven breweries that were new to me (really eight;
I'll explain below) as well as Westvleteren, for a (great!!!) fourth

It was the first time I had visited the brewery since I got
my new digital SLR, and the photos are very good.

I visited Brouwerij Sint-Canarus in Gottem, East Flanders;
Haacht in Flemish Brabant; and Smisje in East Flanders
(the new brewery of Johan Brandt, formerly called Regenboog.)

I also went to De Struise Brouwers in Oostvleteren, at their
new brewery, "The Schoolhouse." Believe me, this is a place
you WANT to go and learn. Sit down and study brews like
Aardmonnik, Black Albert, Black Damnation, Dirty Horse,
Pannepot, Pannepeut, and more under the teutalege of Carlo,
Phil, and Urbain.

You just want might stay after, you WILL want to stay
after class!!

I also went to the new location of De Vlier, which moved into a
larger building in the suburbs of Leuven. I had gone to the first
location, in Kessel-Lo, in April. As the brewery has the same name,
and same equipment as the first location, I'm only counting it as
one visit. Also on the agenda was a visit at Brouwerij St-Jozef in
Opitter, in Limburg Province. Opitter is the home of tennis star
Kim Clijsters.

Additionally, I went to Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal, a new
farmhouse brewery with several interesting beers. The farm
is located in Tildonk, Antwerp Province, and most of the brewing
equipment comes secondhand from the U.S.A.

I also had a great time visiting Gents Stadsbrouwerij Gruut,
where no hops are used in any of the three brews crafted by
Annick De Splenter. Annick is Belgium's newest female brewmaster.
Her family used to own the now defunct Riva brewery in Dentergem.

There was a press release party for the new book "Proeven 100x
van straffe streekbieren" at Gruut on Tuesday, December 8.
Several brewmasters and many beer lovers were on hand. The
book, which covers 100 great Flemish beers and great cafes to
taste them, was co-authored by Bruno Loockx and
Sofie Vanrafelghem.

I also visited many great beery cafes on the trip, including the
new beer restaurant, De Bistronoom, as well as 't Botteltje in
Ostende; 't Brugs Beertje and Erasmus in Brugge; Aba-Jour,
Bierhuis Castel, and Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant in Ghent;
Zaandvlooi in Kruishoutem; De Molen in Bierbeek; Ons Te Huis
and Het Haasken in Diest; Demervallei in Aarschot, a great place
with 450 beers; Herberg in de Ster (aka De Boeres Krant) in
Wezemaal; Herberg Piet Konijn in Booischot; Biercafe de Kluis
in Herenthout; De Stroopop in Zoersel; Oud Arsenaal and
Bierhuis Kulminator in Antwerp; Delirium Cafe and Moeder
Lambic Fontainas (the new Moeder Lambic) and Restobieres,
all in Brussels.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Belgium: The World's Beer Country" article in Beer Connoisseur magazine

The Inaugural issue of Beer Connoisseur magazine has arrived.
I'm very happy to say that I have a 2,500 word feature article,
"Belgium: The World's Beer Country" in this, the first issue of
what I think is a great new publication.

I am very pleased about the high production value of the magazine.
Beer Connoisseur uses very high quality, glossy paper stock, with
numerous high-resolution images within. I think beer lovers will
find it is very polished, especially considering it is a first issue!

My article is an overview of many of the great breweries and cafes
in "The Beer Country."

Quite a few of my photos are used with the article. You'll notice
a number of images of well-known personalities in the Belgian beer

Many thanks to Founder/Publisher Lynn Davis and Editor Nick Kaye
for publishing my article, and for helping to promote Belgium's
beers, breweries and cafes.

Beer Connoisseur will be available in many Barnes and Noble and
Borders stores beginning Tuesday, December 8.

Subscriptions can be purchased here:


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Belgian article in "Beer & Brewer Australia & New Zealand"

I'm happy to say that I just had my first article published in the
beer magazine "Beer & Brewer Australia & New Zealand."

It's a 1,500 word piece called "A Beer Lovers Guide to Belgium."

I cover some of the country's top beer spots, such as 't Brugs Beertje
in Brugge, Brasserie Cantillon and Moeder Lambic in Brussels, and
Bierhuis Kulminator in Antwerp.

Beer & Brewer can be found at some Barnes and Noble bookstores and
other bookstores with International selections in the U.S.

Copies can be ordered on-line at:

I'll report back in a few weeks about yet another Belgian article in
a new beer magazine!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Van Twee: the De Proefbrouwerij/Bell's collaboration beer

Photo: Dirk Naudts of De Proefbrouwerij, with a glass of Van Twee

On the 27th of April, I visited De Proefbrouwerij in Lochristi, East Flanders. I interviewed Brewmaster/Owner Dirk Naudts for several hours, as we toured his state of the art brewery.

Photo: the main brewhouse at De Proefbrouwerij

While there, Dirk suggested that we taste his latest collaboration beer, called Van Twee (meaning “From Two” in Flemish.)

“John Mallet of Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan and we here at De Proefbrouwerij brewed this beer when he visited in early March, 2009” Dirk told me as we sipped the dark, rich brew. “It’s kind a Porter, but also sort of a Belgian Dubbel as well” Dirk explained. “We added fresh cherry juice pressed from sour Michigan cherries. This gives a dark, fruity character to the beer. Also, the bottling conditioning sugar comes from Michigan sugar beets” Dirk remarked.

“We added Brettanomyces yeasts in the primary fermentation” he mentioned. “The end result: I think Van Twee is a very interesting beer, and it was a very interesting collaboration with Bell’s.”

As we savored the Van Twee, which, at 7.5% abv, is remarkably easy to drink, my friend Carl Kins of Kortrijk said: “It’s like Irish coffee. There are three layers!”

I found the beer very much like a Dubbel/Porter combination, with a relatively medium bodied Dubbel-like mouthfeel, and pleasing funky character. I look forward to getting a bottle and seeing how it has developed over the six months since I tasted it at the brewery.

Photo: Dirk Naudts of De Proefbrouwerij pouring a glass of Van Twee

Van Twee is the third beer in the SBS Imports “Brewmaster’s Collaboration” series, following Signature Ale and Les Deux Brasseurs.

"Each year it is my pleasure to invite a noted American brewer to participate in the Collaboration Series,” noted SBS Founder Alan Shapiro. "I am thrilled with the beer that John & Dirk have designed and believe specialty beer enthusiasts will find it a unique and rewarding experience."

90 hectoliters (about 77 U.S. barrels) of Van Twee were produced, with 80 hl being filled into 75 cl corked bottles, and 10 hl being filled into kegs.

Get it while you can!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ghent article in Taps: Canada's Beer magazine

Well, more breaking news: my first article in Canada's beer
magazine, Taps, was just published in the Autumn issue.

It's a 1,500 word piece on Ghent's beery locales, with a
sidebar about the legend of the Gulden Draak
(The Golden Dragon) by Art Director Cary Hyodo.

I am very pleased with the professional look and layout
of the article.

Cary and Editor Karla Dudley did a fine job with it.

I look forward to reading the rest of the issue as well.

Six of the dozen photos used with the article are mine.

Taps is available in both print and on-line versions.
In the next few months, there are more articles due out in
magazines that I have never written for before!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trappist Cafes article is cover feature in October issue of Celebrator Beer News

Things are breaking fast and furious these days, as I recently had several articles published. More are on the way in November and December!

The most recent is the October/November issue of Celebrator Beer News.

My article "Eating and Drinking at Two New Trappist Cafes" is the cover feature.

In fact, the cover shot is a photo I took of a meal at the new "proeflokaal" or tasting room, at La Trappe (Koningshoeven) in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It was taken on a beautiful spring day in late April, sitting outside on the patio. The Dutch would call it the terrace...

That's Trappist beer lover Danny Van Tricht enjoying a meal of Trappist-raised beef and croquettes on the cover. I ordered the same dish, and my lunch is front and center in the cover photo. It was a sumptuous meal!

The article also covers the new Cafe Trappisten at Westmalle, and a fine meal I savored there a few days later, in the company of my friends Craig and Mary from Milwaukee, and Gunther Bensch, who acted as "Bob" that day (aka designated driver!)

There is also some other interesting information thrown in...but you'll have to read the nearly 900 word piece to find out what!

Celebrator can be found at better beer bars, breweries and other beer destinations. For subscription info, see:

For anybody that has ever asked me why I lug around a Canon digital SLR on many trips (as it is much bigger and heavier than a point and shoot) this cover shot tells the tale.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brouwerij Girardin article in October Ale Street News

Well, I'm back after nearly 2 weeks. I was really busy getting ready for the GABF (which was amazing; I tried so many great new sour beers from all over the U.S.!)

I have a nearly 2,000 word article on Brouwerij Girardin, one of Belgium's great lambic breweries, in the October/November issue of Ale Street News.

As you'll read in the article, I was the first beer writer allowed to tour the brewery since the late Michael Jackson in 1993.

While editor Tony Forder only had room for a couple of photos with the article, rest assured I have many more: high-resolution 12 megapixel shots in both the lambic and pils brewhouses. You'll see these in future articles in other publications!

To read this article, you'll have to get a copy of Ale Street, which is available at great bars, brewpubs and breweries, especially here on the East coast and the Midwest.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die"

Amazon and some other sites are now taking pre-orders for the book I contributed to this Spring.

I wrote 30 Belgian beer and brewery reviews for "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die"

which is due out March 23, 2010.

Here's the link:

The book is part of the 1001 Series of publications by Quintessence of London.

Should be ready just in time for Spring!



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Farewell, Cafe 't Jagershof

One of Belgium's great country/roadside cafes, 't Jagershof ("The Hunter's Lodge") will close for good this Sunday, September 6.

It's not due to a bad economy. No, the reason is that owners Martine and her husband are retiring after running their pub for many years. Their well-earned retirement is nevertheless a sad loss to beer lovers, especially those of us that enjoy Trappist brews.

My friend, Trappist beer lover Danny Van Tricht, first took me to the pub in 2005. I made two subsequent visits, in 2006 and 2008.

I wish there had been many more.

Jagershof, located in Waanrode in the Province of Flemish Brabant, opened in 1958.

Trappist beers became a specialty in the 1980's. You could often find the monk's table beers-Chimay Doree, Orval Green, and Westmalle Extra-here, if you asked.
Such brews were on a menu with 75+ beers.

Trappist cheeses were usually available as well.

't Jagershof was a great place to drink and enjoy the Belgian lifestyle. It will be missed.

If you are in Belgium, you have a last few days to get to this atmospheric cafe to enjoy a few Trappist brews. I wish I could be there.

More photos are here:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh so busy.....

Hi everyone,

Sorry about the lack of posts of late.

I have been incredibly busy with several articles, plus summer beer
fests. The Ommegang fest was a great time, as was another camping
beer fest.

I recently finished two 1500 word articles about Belgium and beer, as
well as a 900 word piece. Both the 1500 word articles are for beer
magazines located outside the USA. I'll keep you posted as to when
these are due out.

Also, I've written several articles for the Beer Connoisseur website.

I'm headed up to Brooklyn for a Belgian-inspired beer tasting tomorrow.

There will be over 150 different beers there. Wish me luck....



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Beer Connoisseur magazine: please subscribe!

America's next great beer magazine is just a few months away from
its first issue.
Beer Connoisseur, the creation of Lynn Davis of Atlanta, is currently
a fine website with a very diverse beer content.
I have already penned three articles for the website, all on the
subject of Belgium.
I have the privilege of being the Belgian beer blogger for the site.
Here's my latest article, about the great lambic cafe, In de
Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst:

The magazine will be a high-quality quarterly publication.

Here's a word from Lynn:

If you enjoy my writings about Belgian beer, please consider subscribing. If you do, please use my invitation code: FBC-0101. The more people that subscribe and support Beer Connoisseur, the more Belgian beer articles you will see in the magazine!



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sad news: Beers of the World magazine to cease production

I received sad news from Beers of the World Magazine Editor
Sally Toms one week ago: the magazine will cease production after
issue 26. It will live on as a website:
Beers of the World, based in the U.K. but also available in the U.S.,
was one of my favorite beer mags. It offered great coverage of the
world beer scene!
I had five articles over the years in the magazine. I covered Antwerp's
Bierhuis Kulminator in issue 11; beery Brussels in issue 14; Belgium's
female brewmasters in issue 15; Belgian breweries in issue 16; and
great Belgian cafes in issue 22.

Links are here, except for issue 22, was was never put on the
Only the first few hundred words of the articles are on-line:

Cheers to four years of great articles in Beers of the World, and all
the best to the staff in future endeavors.
Hopefully the new Beer Connoisseur magazine will fill the void that
BOTW leaves.


Charles aka Chuck Cook

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Belgium Comes to Cooperstown" is this weekend!

Photo: Captain Lawrence brewer/owner Scott Vaccaro, with his lady at last year's beer fest.
I'm hoping Scott will be bringing some of the newest batch of Cuvee de Castleton this weekend.
Fingers crossed...

Brewery Ommegang's superb beer fest, "Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (N.Y.) is this weekend.
I'll be there. Yes, a "Beer Research" weekend is ahead!

Here's an article about last year's fest.

“The Big Lebrewski”: Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, 2008

“We have over 250 beers at the fest this year!” Larry Bennett, Marketing manager for Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, told me as I entered one of the best Belgian beer fests in all the U.S.A. on Saturday, August 2nd. “There are about 50 Belgian beers and 200 Belgian-style brews” Larry continued. What a lineup it was!
The weekend began with a multiple-course VIP beer dinner on the Friday night, featuring a variety of fine foods, such as mussels, duck, frites, cheeses, and a plethora of brews from the Duvel/Moortgat/Ommegang “family.” These included Duvel, several Maredsous and Achouffe beers, as well as the entire Ommegang lineup. A new brew that impressed me was the Ommegang Rouge, brewed in conjunction with Brouwerij Bockor in Bellegem, West Flanders. I toured Bockor and sampled several very tart and refreshing brews from their wooden foeders in 2007, and the new Rouge is a fine Red Flanders ale, in the style of Rodenbach.
The weather was nearly perfect for the weekend, despite some morning rain showers, with temps in the upper 70’s and low humidity. The beer fest on the Saturday was another top-notch event, with about 50 breweries in attendance. Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City pleased beer lovers with their Saison Brett 07; Brewer’s Art, of my hometown of Baltimore, had Seven Beauties, a country rye style ale, and other brews; Bullfrog Brewing of PA offered several tasty Saisons; Russian River drew a large crowd for its superb Beatification and Supplication; Iron Hill with its Heywood sour brett ale and Saison Extra, and many others; Ithaca Brewing had their excellent Brute, a golden sour ale aged in French oak, with Brettanomyces added, and finished with a champagne yeast; Southampton offered the fine Cuvee de Fleurs, brewed with lavender, dried flowers and spices; Cambridge Brewing wowed with its always-tasty Cerise Cassee and Weekapaug Gruit; Captain Lawrence Brewer Scott Vaccaro really impressed with his excellent Cuvee de Castleton, which is brewed with wild yeasts, muscat grapes, and is aged in French oak wine barrels. Yum!
The theme of the 2008 fest was “The Big Lebrewski” and tickets-200 for the Friday night beer dinner, and about 1,000 for the Saturday beer fest-sold out the same day! See for more info.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gunther Bensch...anyone stateside looking for a Belgian brewer? Plus Girardin and Bienvenue a Montaigu

Gunther Bensch, 32, knows a thing or two about lambic beers. He represents the lambic brewery, Girardin, at several Belgian beer festivals throughout the year. The Girardin Oude Gueuze 1882 is one of the great lambic beers of Belgium. “My mother used to give me a table beer from Brouwerij Haacht, instead of cola, when I was very young” Gunther told me, as we talked after our tour of Girardin in April 2009. “She said beer was healthier than a sweet cola” he continued. Table beer is typically about 1 to 2 percent alcohol by volume; a good training wheels beer.
“Later, I drank Horse ale when I was about 14, and then someone shared a bottle of the Girardin with me when I was 16. By then, I knew I really liked beer. I worked at an Interbrew plant for three summers, beginning when I was 16. I became a disc jockey when I was around 20, and spent a few years doing that. When I was 26, I enrolled in brewing courses at CLT in Ghent. I also joined beer appreciation clubs and started homebrewing. Then in 2004, I first visited Girardin. I really like lambic beers” Gunther said, smiling. “In 2006, I created the world’s first Tripel Gueuze. It was a blend of Girardin White Label Gueuze, and Dilewyn’s Vicaris Tripel, which is brewed at De Proefbrouwerij. Nowadays, my beer is Bienvenue a Montaigu, which I have brewed to my recipe at ‘t Hofbrouwerijke in Beerzel. It has 7.5% abv, and uses some wheat in its recipe. So, it has more body than a normal Tripel, yet is a little lighter in alcohol. You can have two of these in an evening.”
Gunther’s future plans? “I really like the USA. I would like to get a job as a brewer somewhere there, and stay and build a life.” Anybody need a Belgian brewer? Shoot me an e-mail. Seriously.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beer Connoisseur goes live...with the Belgian Beer blogger

Well, good news for Belgian beer lovers.

The Beer Connoisseur website is now live at:

This is a new website, where I will be blogging weekly about Belgian beer.

Beer Connoisseur plans to go live as a magazine late this year.
It will be quarterly.

Look for lots of articles about Belgian breweries, cafes, beers, and
beer-related things!!

My introductory article is at

I hope you enjoy!



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Photos in the "Good Beer Guide to Belgium"

Brother Antoine at brewkettle one, Brasserie Trappistes Rochefort.
This image is on page 96 of the new Good Beer Guide to Belgium.
Without the watermarks, of course!

The newest edition of Tim Webb's "Good Beer Guide to Belgium" was just published about 10 days ago, and copies are available at

This completely revamped sixth edition is probably the best yet. It is very professionally produced, with slick, glossy pages and loads of new content.

It is also very well illustrated, with many superb photos. 25 of the images in the Guide are mine, including several from the Trappist breweries. There are also photos I took at various cafes, beer fests, and other breweries.

I can't recommend this highly enough: if you like Belgian beer, get a copy!


Chuck Cook

Brother Benedict, the brewer at Westvleteren/De Sint-Sixtusabdij
van Westvleteren, at brewkettle one.
This photo is on page 164 of the new Guide.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Breweries and Cafes of Kortrijk" article in June/July 2009 Celebrator Beer News

The brewmaster of Bockor in Bellegem, pulling a sample of lambic right from one of their foeders (huge oak barrels.)

I have an article about the breweries and cafes in the vicinity of Kortrijk, West Flanders, in the June/July issue of Celebrator Beer News.
The article, which runs about 1,350 words, covers cafes like Staminee Den Boulevard, Eirekedeirie, and others in the city, as well as the great Rusteel in Gullegem. I also wrote about the breweries in the region, such as 't Brouwkot, Bockor, Gaverhopke and more.
Kortrijk is an under-appreciated city and corner of West Flanders, that deserves more attention for its beery riches.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Toer de Geuze article in June/July Celebrator Beer News

The new Celebrator arrived on Friday, and I have two Belgian beer articles in this issue.

One is about the Toer de Geuze, held April 26 in the Payottenland. What a great Sunday it was, visiting the lambic breweries!

Well, back to work. I have many more deadlines to meet this month.....



Monday, May 25, 2009

Busy, busy, busy....

Well, two weeks without a post. As you might guess, I have been incredibly swamped lately.
I am writing a number of Belgian beer and brewery reviews for a new book due out later this year. I've written over 6,000 words in the past two weeks, and have about 3,500 more due within a few weeks.
I also am working on a big 2,500 word feature article on Brouwerij Girardin.
I'll be at SAVOR in D.C. this weekend, so I'll be writing during the week.
I also have another 3,000 word feature due for a new magazine by mid-June.
My Belgian beer blog at Beer Connoisseur on-line should go live in a couple of weeks.
Did I mention I was busy? Phew.
One of the beers I am writing about for the book is Moinette Blonde. The photo with this post is Dirk Van Dyck in the cellar of the Bodega cafe, with a Moinette from the 1970's.



Sunday, May 10, 2009

An aged Trappist beer tasting at Cafe Goede Vrijdag (Good Friday)

The group at the aged Trappist beer tasting

Trappist beer lover, photographer and reporter Danny Van Tricht, standing

When my good friend Danny Van Tricht told me he had procured several crates of aged Trappist brews a couple of months ago, I was understandably excited. I knew I'd have the chance to taste a few during my trip to "Het Bierland" in April.
Then, fate intervened: a big tasting that Danny had planned for mid-March at Cafe Goede Vrijdag (Good Friday) in Herselt, Antwerp Province, had to be postponed.
The rescheduled date? Why, Friday, the 24th of April, Danny informed me. GAME ON!
I have had the pleasure to taste quite a few aged Trappist beers over the years at places like Bierhuis Kulminator in Antwerp, as well as various other cafes. I've also savored such brews at Danny's home, as well as with beer lovers such as Joris Pattyn, the well-known beer researcher and co-author of "100 Belgian Beers to try Before You Die."
But I've never had the chance to taste so many at one time and one place. Danny, who authors several Belgian beer blogs, such as Trappistbier Beleven, and is a reporter and photographer for Reisreporter really put on a show for the tasting.
He created tasting sheets for each beer, and also reserved the upstairs room of Goede Vrijdag. There was plenty of bread and water as palate cleansers between beers.
In attendance was brewer Jef Goetelen of 't Hofbrouwerijke, whose beers are available now in the USA via Shelton Brothers. See: There were also several beer lovers from the area, including Hans Bombeke, former owner of 't Waagstuk in Antwerp, and now a teacher at a local college. What does Hans teach, you ask? Beer appreciation, of course! I hear his classes are full....Hans also is a member of the local Zythos-affliated beer appreciation club, Antwerps Bier College (ABC)

Hans Bombeke studying an aged Trappist brew

Jef Goetelen, brewer/owner, 't Hofbrouwerijke

The beers on hand for the tasting included Petit Orval and Orval from 1983, which Danny started with; both had aged nicely, and there was still noticeable brett character in both brews. We then moved on to Westmalle Dubbel, circa 1980. One of the 33 cl bottles was spot on, with noticeable chocolate in the taste and little oxidation. Another bottle, which appeared to be from the same batch, was very port/sherry like and more oxidized. Several bottles of Westmalle Tripel from the same era were similarly very sherry like and fairly oxidized. Of course, Westmalle never intended for its Tripel to be aged.

Danny then broke out 75 cl bottles of Chimay Grand Reserve from the late 1980's and the mid-90's, which had aged very well. Next up was Westvleteren Abt, produced before the name was changed to Westvleteren 12. This one, dating to the late 80's, was perhaps the best of the day. It had aged beautifully, with low oxidation and a great depth of malty character. Somewhere in the mix, Danny threw in a 1989 St. Sixtus Pater, which was brewed at St. Bernardus when they had a contract to brew the Westvleteren beers for commercial sale. It had aged well also, though not as well as the Abt.

The next flight was "newer" Westvleteren 8 and 12, from a few years ago. Served with the older Abt, it gave quite an insight on how these beers have changed over time.
The last Trappist beer was also the newest: La Trappe Quadrupel, aged in French oak casks for nine months. "I have been experimenting with aging in French oak for a while now" brewer Lodewijk Swinkels had told us, just a few hours earlier, as we savored his brews on a nice sunny day. The venue was outside seating at the new tasting cafe at La Trappe. The Quad was our lunchtime dessert beer, after a meal of Trappist-raised beef and croquettes, served with La Trappe Blond and Dubbel. Yum!
After the aged Trappist tasting was over, everyone enjoyed rounds of fresh Orval (Cafe Goede Vrijdag is an Orval Ambassador) as well as Jef's Hoftrol, a fine brew of 6.2% abv, with a distinct brett character. Jef must be an Orval fan.....

Cafe Goede Vrijdag carries beers from all seven Trappist Abbey breweries. There are also beers form local breweries Achilles, Den Hopperd and of course 't Hofbrouwerijke. There are others as well, on a menu with 60 brews. See

Danny Van Tricht with the French oak aged La Trappe Quadrupel

Monday, May 4, 2009

New photos on-line from recent Trappist brewery visits

The brewhouse at Westmalle

Beer conditioning at Westmalle

Brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels pouring the French-oak aged La Trappe Quadrupel.

Lodewijk Swinkels, brewmaster of La Trappe, with some of his French oak barrels.

Trappist-raised beef with croquettes at the La Trappe.

I visited Achel and Koningshoeven (La Trappe) for the third time each on my recent trip, and also went to Westmalle for a fourth visit.

Both La Trappe and Westmalle have new tasting cafes, which are very modern and stylish. The old ones were torn down.

I also savored a chalice each of Achel Blond 5 and Bruin 5 on Thursday the 23rd, sitting outside on a nice sunny day. Was this really Belgium?? These brews, available only on tap at the Abbey tasting cafe, paired well with some snacks from the Abbey, such as sausages.

I had much bigger meals at Koningshoeven and Westmalle, as they have full kitchens at each.

Trappist-grown beef and croquettes at La Trappe on a sunny spring day really hit the spot, with Blond and Dubbel paired with the meal.

When brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels suggested we taste his La Trappe Quadrupel, aged in French oak casks for 9 months....well things got even better. Great beer, and not overdone with oak.

Stoofvlees cooked in Westmalle Dubbel was a fine meal at the Cafe Trappisten at Westmalle.

Look for more on these visits in the future.

inside the tasting cafe at Achel.

Cheese made with Achel beer.