How to buy Westvleteren Trappist Beers: Belgian Beer at In De Vrede Cafe

One question people often ask is, “what is the best beer you have ever tried?”  For me, the answer is pretty easy.  The best beer I have ever had is Trappist Westvleteren 8 from Sint-Sixtus Abdij in Westvleteren, Belgium.  Most people actually tend to prefer the Trappist Westvleteren 12, which is usually even rated as the top beer in the world on http://www.ratebeer.com, but I personally prefer the 8 since it has less of an alcohol taste to it, with most of the other wonderful flavors still present.  I love the 12 as well, but the 8 is my top choice.  I guess it may also factor in that I am usually driving when I am visiting and need the lower alcohol in order to continue afterwards…

I have been lucky enough to purchase cases of these wonderful beers directly from the Abbey a few years ago, but typically, this is an extremely difficuly task to accomplish these days (see official instructions on the Sint-Sixtus Abbey website) and often requires quite a bit of luck.  Since buying from the Abbey is so difficult, and the monks do not allow their beer to be resold by others (and when it is resold by others, it is usually with a very hefty mark-up), how can you manage to get your hands on some for yourself?

It’s easier than you think…as long as you have a way of getting around in Belgium.

Westvleteren Trappist Collector's Set

Right accross the Donkerstraat from the monestary, there is a cafe called In De Vrede, which is owned by the Sint-Sixtus Abbey.  This cafe is the only authorized reseller of Trappist Westvleteren in the world!  The primary way to purchase the Trappist Beer here is by the bottle in the cafe, but there is also a small shop at the entrance to the cafe which at time also does sell beer by the bottle or in special collector’s sets for take-away.  Due to the limited production of the beers and increasing popularity, and need to keep enough on stock for the cafe, there were no individual bottle sales for take-away available in the store the past few times I visited, however  was able to purchase the collector’s sets, which contain 4 beers – 2 blonde (green-cap), 1 8 (blue-cap) and 1 12 (yellow-cap) – along with a Trappist Westvleteren glass and a collector’s box.  The shop also sells other products such as the pâté and cheese produced by the monks, gingerbread, and other local products, along with some basic conveniences.

In De Vrede (“In Peace”) is a popular cafe, especially on weekends.  The parking lot is usually pretty full, both with cars and bicycles.  When the weather cooperates, it can be difficult to find a spot, and both the inside cafe and terrace can be completely full even!  The cafe sells some light snacks and sandwiches, ice cream, hot and cold beverages, and of course, the Trappist Westvleteren beers. 

I recommend the Portie Paterskaas €2.50, a nice sized slice of the cheese made by the monks, and the Portie Abdijpaté €2.90 which is a similarly sized slice of the monestary’s own pâté, which is actually delicious!  The Bierworstje is just a prepackage sausage snack, so I suggest to stick to the pâté and cheese.  The sandwiches are ok, but beware the Hennepot if you are not aware of what it is – it’s a slice of small pieces of chicken suspended in gelatin…looks quite disgusting.  I’ve never actually tasted it though.

Brett with Westvleteren Trappist trio at In De Vrede, Nov/04

Beer prices in the cafe are €3.20 for a blonde, €3.70 for the 8, and €4.30 for the 12.  This is almost 3x what you would pay if you can get them by the case at the monestsary, and almost 2x what it would cost from the store, but being able to buy in either of these sites is not as likely.

 The cafe is open every day from 10:00 AM, except for the following times when it is closed:

  • Thursdays (From September 1 – July 1)
  • Fridays
  • 1st half of January
  • 2nd half of Easter Holiday
  • 2nd half of September

For more information, check them out at http://www.indevrede.be/languagee/index.htm

“In de Vrede”
Donkerstraat 13
8640 WESTVLETEREN
 Tel. 057/40.03.77
Fax. 057/40.19.60

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  • http://www.wouter.net Wouter

    This way of buying Westvleteren is some kind of public secret in Belgium. We try not to tell too many people about it, because we are afraid even at In De Vrede Cafe this beer will become hard to get.
    Most Belgian beer lovers are not so happy that the Westvleteren Trappist was announced to be the “best beer in the world” in 2005, because since then it is, like you described, extremely difficult to buy it from the Abby. Unfortunately this “hard to get” thing even makes it more famous and wanted.

    I believe however there’s some other Belgian beers that are as good as Westvleteren. Did you ever try Rochefort or Chimay?
    Maybe let me know when you are in Belgium or Netherlands again and we could have some Belgian beer TB meetup.

  • Jan Spilliaert

    I advise you to look for Sint-Bernardus Abt 12. It’s exactly the same as West-Vleteren 12, and the quality is probably more stable. This brewery was created many years ago, at a time when you could buy West-Vleteren not only at the gate of the Sint-Sixtus monastery, in order to make sure that bigger volumes were produced. It’s my personal favourite. You can even find at at the bigger stores like Carrefour. I bought it in Koksijde’s Carrefour for instance.

  • Brett Domue

    I really want to pay a visit to Sint-Bernardus still as well.  It’s also located very nearby.  Next time I head over that way I’m going to be sure to stop by there as well!

  • Brett Domue

    I really want to pay a visit to Sint-Bernardus still as well.  It’s also located very nearby.  Next time I head over that way I’m going to be sure to stop by there as well!

  • David-19870

    I just had this beer and i have to accept it’s absolutely one of the best beers I ever tasted. Only the Sint Bernardus 12 seems to be close. The taste is very full and has a kind of wooden taste. The Westvleteren 8 is absolutely more fruity, but less exceptionnal.

    I absolutely recommend the beer and the website that helped me to get the beer for a good price 
    (even if i don’t know if this is allowed in my review: http://westvleteren12.webs.com/ ) EnjoyeServing type: bottle

  • Brett Domue

    I managed to pick up 6 more bottles of the 8 and the 12 just before the holidays, looking forward to letting most of them sit for a while. Need to head back again soon to see if they have any more left…

  • Vitor

    Hey Brett. I´m going to Belgium next february and, of course, go to Sint-Sixtus Abdij. Do you know if there´s a way to reserve (or at least try) a crate without a license plate number? I´ll probably be in a cab or something… Nice post! Thanks!

  • Brett Domue

    Hi Vitor, my understanding is you do have to know the license plate number up front at the time of reservation. They have a strict rule about the same license plate number not being able to make a reservation twice in a 60-day period, so don’t think they offer any flexibility for taxis :-( They have the same 60 day restriction on the same telephone number being used to make reservations, to prevent someone from using two different cars for pick-ups. You may need to hold out hope for some availability at In de Vrede (very hit or miss) or try to make plans in advance with someone who can drive. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be in the Netherlands at that time, as I may still be in San Diego for work then.

    Right now they’re doing reservations through Jan 12 (already fully booked), So it should only be a few weeks out until they start their February reservations.

    Good luck, and at the least, enjoy a couple tastes!

  • Vitor

    Hi Brett! Thanks a lot for your answer! I´ll roll the dice at In de Vrede then. Let´s hope they have some 12 for sale. See you!

  • jayjaywho

    Hey there I am heading to Belgium next month and was wondering if it is still extremely difficult to get a six pack from the In de Vrede shop during midweek?

    I’d love to find a way to get a crate from the actual monastery, but being a backpacker and on a budget of time and money I’m guessing that won’t be happening! :)

  • metsbwd

    Hi Jay, Not sure if it’ll stay this way, but a colleague went to In de Vrede two weekends ago and managed to pick up two six packs for around €20 each. I asked if there was still the two six-pack limit, but he hadn’t checked, but also didn’t see any obvious signs to indicate that there was a limit. So hopefully this means they have plenty available right now. He did mention that he spent over an hour trying to call in for a reservation to pick up a crate from the monastery, but never managed to get through…so that route is still very difficult.

  • jayjaywho

    Cool cool,thanks for letting me know. Glad I found your guys site!