The Road to Westvleteren, taken
The signs are easy to miss, no larger than a forearm attached to a wooden spike. Surely, designed only for the purest of heart. And you don't know you're there until you come up on a set of buildings that look like anything you've just cycled past for the past 30 minutes.
But that could be because your eyes have turned to frozen Vaseline from the cold.
But you arrive. And you rejoice, because the Vision Quest has neared its peak. Matt Modine would be proud. He'd be smiling that big American smile, those toothful American grins you miss so much when you're in London.
The cafe, De Vrede, sells the beer most of the week. During the summer months, a drive-through kiosk sells it, so you can quench your thirst on the drive home, undoubtedly.
The cafe brought together locals -- who I can imagine come here every weekend after going to church and while their Belgian children to do their Belgian chores, like cleaning sheep -- and people from all over the world. Languages collided here like the stretch of Boston where Chinatown melts into Government Center and melts into the North End.
Six trappist breweries, circling round Belgium. Good London and world bars carry every one of them, except for this one. The reason: the monks brew just enough beer to keep the monastery going. They say they live for their prayer, not for the beer -- not like those sellouts over at Chimay. I bet they share some full-bearded laughs at those forlorn souls.
So we contributed to the monastery fund.
Crates. Crates everywhere of this delicious beer. Made by people who make it their life's work, because the Trappist/Benedictine Order preaches community service. Not too many better services to render.
The bottles are bare, just black/brown. The only way to identify them is from the cap. This, my friends, is Westvleteren 12.
It took us about an hour to get home. We treated it like we had immigrants in the back of a truck. Immigrants carrying Westvleteren.