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AUG/SEP 2006 | REGIONAL | INTERNATIONAL

A Trio Of Trappist Temptations
By Chuck Cook

The Trappist beers of Belgium feature prominently on the menus of many of the world’s great beer cafés. In Belgium, these brews command respect and admiration among beer lovers and average residents alike.

There are a number of Belgian cafés that have small beer lists but specialize in offering brews from the Trappist abbeys. I recently visited a couple of very special ones, as well as a restaurant with delicious food and Trappist beer.

De Pandoerenhoeve café (known as “The Windmill”) is located near Heist-op-den-Berg in a visually stunning setting, just meters away from a functioning 17th century windmill! The café building itself dates from the same period and serves up 14 Trappist beers from all six of the Belgian abbeys, along with a few other brews. There is also a bake house here constructed in the style of those from the 19th century, which was opened in 2002. A real stone oven is used to bake delicious bread, which is served at the café during its only open day, Sunday. Hours are from 2 to 10 p.m. Other small snacks are served as well.

When the weather is nice, you can sit outside and enjoy a Trappist brew while checking out the activity at the windmill, which can be visited. It is three stories high, and there are many historical items inside, such as old mill stones and other equipment used to run windmills long ago. There are people here who will show you how the windmill functions. It’s sort of a living history museum.

In the winter, there will be a fire burning in the hearth of the old Leuvense stove inside the café, which is full of interesting historical items. Whether you visit in summer or winter, your experience at De Pandoerenhoeve will be memorable!

A visit to ’t Jagershof should not be missed by Trappist beer fans, as all seven abbeys are represented on the beer list.

If you would like to have a full meal while in the area, Paquis Pastas in Westmeerbeek is an Italian restaurant that has excellent pasta and meat dishes served in generous quantities. My group had a great meal there. Paquis (also spelled Pakis) stocks beers from five of the six Belgian Trappist breweries, so it is a great place to eat and drink! Paquis is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

Another very special café is ’t Jagershof in Waanrode, to the east of Brussels in Flemish Brabant. It has been specializing in Trappist brews since 1995. A visit here should not be missed by Trappist beer fans, as all seven abbeys are represented on the beer list (yes, even La Trappe from the Netherlands!). ’T Jagershof occasionally has a few of the monk’s table beers, such as Chimay Dorée, Petit Orval and Westmalle Extra, in its private collection. Such beers are not really offered to the public, but if you ask nicely and show serious interest in these brews, they might let you try them if they have any extra bottles.

The excellent cheeses from Chimay, Orval and Westmalle are also available here, and they pair superbly with the Trappist brews (of course!). ’t Jagershof has Westmalle Dubbel on draft as well as 75-cl bottles of Achel Extra, Chimay Blue and Chimay White, along with other Trappist beers in 33-cl bottles. There are also about 60 other brews on the menu, so there is something for everyone here.

’t Jagershof has been one of the Orval “Ambassador” cafés for several years, which is a mark of quality given by Orval to cafés serving its beer in top condition. Events are also held here, such as the weekend of Trappist beer held each August (this year, August 5–7). See cafe-jagershof.be for more information, and enjoy your visit!

For more info on Trappist breweries and specialty cafés, see trappistbier.be.

Chuck Cook is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Va. His passions are beer and travel, and he has written for various beer publications. He can be reached via e-mail at chuck@beerandtravel.com.

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