Our final morning in Brussels started off roughly. The Delirium beer had done it's job, and done it well. After showering and packing up, we went to a cafe to grab breakfast. One thing I've noticed about Europeans is that they call a cup of coffee and a croissant (or other bread-based pastry) breakfast. I am a lover of breakfast. I would eat it all day every day if I could and it would contain all the breakfast foods: eggs, bacon, waffles, crepes, french toast, more bacon, maybe some fruit (but never melons), orange juice, even more bacon, and toast. So this is a difficult fact for me to accept. Thankfully, there are a few places that have eggs as an option for breakfast. And even more thankfully, we found one of these few places on Sunday morning. It was a glorious breakfast of bread and eggs and tea.
After breakfast I had one more thing to check off my Belgian bucket list - find some Belgian chocolate. Thankfully, chocolatiers are about as common as cafes in Brussels, so this was an easy task to accomplish. We were then on our way to the holy grail of Belgian beers - Chimay.
It was a long two hour drive from Brussels to Chimay (which is also the name of the town, not just the beer). Chimay is a tiny town in the southern part of Belgium, almost in France, in the middle of no where. Now, time for a little bit of history. Chimay beer is an "Authentic Trappist" beer, meaning that it is brewed by Trappist monks (members of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance). There are only 6 authentic Trappist breweries in Belgium and 10 in the entire world. In order to carry this label, the products must meet three conditions:
- Products are produced either within the walls of the monastery, or close by
- Their production must clearly evidence the monastic way of life
- The profits from their sale are primarily used to provide for the needs of the community or social service.
Therefore, drinking Chimay, and other Authentic Trappist beers, is really helping world peace. Ok, maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but let me think that please.
The brewery itself is not open to visitors, but they have built and operate a really nice visitors center, which you can tour for 6 euro. This includes a generous tasting of the Chimay gold. There is also a restaurant on site that serves everything from Chimay beer and cheese (yup, they make cheese too and it's pretty darn fantastic), to salads, to steaks. If you ever go, we highly recommend the cheese fondue. Our only regret was not getting two of them since sharing was, ahem, difficult.
After lunch, we picked up a couple of souvenirs - some cheese, a bottle opener, and of course a crate of their beer (only 3L, but they were limited edition brews and came with a sweet carrying crate that I will be Pinteresting the heck out of). It was then back into the car for the four hour drive home. This time, we managed to cross not one, but two, international borders: Belgium - Luxembourg - Germany. Again, rather uneventful border crossings.
Anyone else crossing international (or state, since that seems to be more exciting) this weekend or meeting random alum from their Alma Mater?