erickok (238) Leuven, Belgium | March 3, 2011| Updated April 23, 2012
Hard to rate this place really, since it is unique in many ways. Most importantly, itís the only bar in the world that is allowed to sell Westvleteren and indeed Westvleteren is all you can get. When you donít have an appointment at the Sint-Sixtus abbey itself it also is the only place to get your hands on one. We went easrly in the year on a Sunday and it wasn;t very busy. Surprisingly it is a large and modern place with people, old and young, coming by. If possible come by bike, because driving a car after 2 of the 12ís is already very irresponsible. Didnít try the food but it looked nice yet a bit expensive. If youíre really lucky you can buy some bottles of whatever is available at the counter.
This is right next to the monastery so it gets a bit packed with tourists at times. There are tons of bicycle groups that also put this on their stop while touring around the countryside. So you bound to see overweight people in full bicycle racing attire quaffing beer before they begin cycling to the next destination to get another drink.
The quality of the beer is good considering they only have to go across the street to get some freshly made Westvleteren.
Service is great, quick, and friendly. The selection is about what you could find at a cheese/bread shop. Not much in the way of hearty meals as it seems geared towards just providing beer to people and a light snack while they wait for their beer appointment.
A bit overpriced, especially for small sandwiches. Beer is a bit steep as well. But you canít expect an awesome price as they are geared towards the tourists that populate the immediate area.
If you are in the area to get some beer, you may as well stop and get a snack and check out the claustrum. And walk around the area a little bit. There is a pretty cool area behind the monastery for prayer, with some need statues.
It seems to get into a bar in a motorway service station, instead we must to rely on a gps. Located as it is in the middle of nowhere, only fields separated by narrow streets that wind twisty and narrow alternating with very short straights.
The place is quite modern with large windows and exposed woodís beams.
The food is neither better nor worse than in the whole of the rest on Belgium (I personally do not like very much)
But within those large refrigerators with stainless steel doors, there are three of the best beers in the world.
I was excited about the vw blond, very fresh and very nice as can be here only. After having tasted also vw8 and vw12 (which I seem undertone compared to other times) I spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon to retry the inexhaustible freshness and gratifing of the vw blond.
Just the thought of being able to drink a beer like that, every day before returning home from work, I would like to emigrate in these parts.
It is hard to add much that others have not already said. I was able to visit this place (as well as the Abbey for some to-go bottles), and while it isnít some sort of crazy wonderful beer bar, it is, indubitably a beer loverís Mecca. Everyone should make the shlep here once in their life. After the maze through the middle-of-nowhere Belgium, we pulled up to a jam-packed parking lot. After finally parking, we went inside to see what looked like hundreds of people enjoying beers and cheese. We didnít eat, just grabbed a table and ordered some beers. Service was decent, nothing special. The shop was nice, I grabbed a 2 pack of Westy glasses to bring home with me. Itís hard to rate the score, they only serve 3 beers, but they are three difficult to find incredible beers, so how to do you quantify that? Again, you should go here to get this beer from close to the source, donít think much more about the rest, and youíll certainly have a good time.
What can I say. For a lover of strong Belgian abbey ales, this place is the equivalent of Jerusalem, Mecca or Shangri-La. Not so much for the beer, which can be purchased otherwise in the so-called "grey market", but for the sheer symbolism - similar to the great religious sites in the world. For next to the actual religious site - the St. Sixtus Abbey - lies the ONLY place in the world where one can 100% legally purchase one of the finest beers on the planet. Thereís something about that fact which creates a unique atmosphere and mood about the place. Moreover, when finding and reaching the cafe itself becomes something akin to a small quest itself, thereís no wonder why you get the feeling of raising the very Grail itself to your lips when you toast in Westvleteren 12! :-) (Short summary: rural Belgium is not for the car-less...) Anyway, In De Vrede was packed with all kinds of people: kids on rollerblades, olí folks having an afternoon beer, beer geeks, tourists and regular couples enjoying the alcoholic perks of Flanders. A cheerful and peaceful atmosphere envelops the place, and despite the bustling activity and rapid-walking waiters we were both relaxed and exhilarated at the same time, knowing weíd reached our destination. Service was friendly and forthcoming, and even helped us making local calls regarding our (complicated) means of transportation. Of course they only serve three beers, but those three is really all you need for an evening, and the food was good too. Particularly the Trappist cheese platter; highly recommended with the Westvleteren 6. Needless to say, the 8 and 12 are both of epic proportions, and served in proper glassware this is the pinnacle of classic beer tourism. Well worth the trip and all the efforts, in my opinion.
We had anticipated our trip here for the fabled Westvleteren 12 for months, and were not disappointed with the beer. However, our waiter refused to bring me a second beer for absolutely no reason. He probably mentioned to another server not to serve us either since they did not reappear after asking for service. We wanted change for our bill since I was not prepared to leave any kind of a tip, so we decided to pay inside. On the way out, we stopped at the gift shop to pick up a couple of gift packs, and our first waiter ran up to the lady in the shop accusing us of not paying our bill!
Unfortunately, one has to put up with this BS when the place has a monopoly on selling Westvleteren beer!
A friend who lived near there mentioned the Northern Belgians are very nationalistic and want to separate from the largely French southern part. Perhaps this fellow was offended by my attempt to speak French with him when we first arrived, not realizing how some might feel about the French. Whatever the case, it remains a mystery to me how someone with such a terrible attitude can work in a service industry.
For my money from now on, Iíll take a Rochefort 10 anytime and avoid this place at all costs.
In de Vrede is rather large and modern. The food is good, but the menu is limited. Of course, the main attraction here is the Westvleteren beers available in bottles, a lunch is always better if accompanied by a Westy 12! The gift shop has a lot of souvenirs including the Westvleteren gift pack that contains 2 Blondes, 1 8, 1 12 and a glass. This place of course doesnít really compare the the great beer bars of Belgium, but itís still a must.
Having spent the week in Belgium touring round a number of breweries, we (supposedly) saved the best til last. Weíd managed to get through on the beerphone to reserve a case of 8 which was a bonus!
In de Vrede was a disappointment to be honest. The beers were, as expected, absolutely world class and perfectly served. However, the cafe lacked soul and overall service was pretty poor. Iíll get flamed for this but the tap at Westmalle was much nicer in my view.