Whenever I go on any astronomical adventures, or adventures with astronomers, our group’s mascot Artie Aardvark seems to tag along. And it’s time for Artie to tell you all about a recent weekend we had in Belgium- take it away, Artie!
I really enjoyed my short trip to Belgium for the NAC, so a week later when I heard a bunch of astronomers were planning a weekend trip to Belgium to visit trappist breweries I begged them to go along. After all, what if they needed an extra driver? What if they needed the services of an attack aardvark? And most important, I was very curious to see what the fuss was about when it came to trappist beers!
Luckily they let me come so we set off on Friday after work for an adventure! Though our first stop was before the Belgian border, in the Netherlands, at the La Trappe near Tilburg in the southern Netherlands-
When visiting here I learned that a “trappist brewery” means a brewery where the beer is brewed by monks who still live in the monastery (though in some like La Trappe they now get helped by non-monks in brewing the beer). A lot of people think Trappist beers are the best in the world, so I had a good time trying my first ones! La Trappe makes lots of different beers, like the dark dubbel and strong tripel that are usual Belgian beers, but they also made special ones like a white beer and a quadrupel that was very strong so I only tried a little of it.
I also learned while I was at La Trappe that there are only eight Trappist breweries in the world, six in Belgium and one in Austria and one in the Netherlands! So they really are rare and special!
We spent the Friday night in Namur, Belgium, and I was surprised at how pretty and hilly it was! They claim this castle here is the oldest fortification in Europe but I’m not sure how they can really tell…
We followed the really nice river and hills all the way to Dinant, home of Masion de Leffe. Leffe is not a Trappist beer but they do brew a lot of tasty beers in an old monastery building, and I even got to sign the guestbook!
Also, it’s called Masion de Leffe because we were in the French part of Belgium- apparently the northern part is Dutch speaking, called Flanders, and the southern part where they speak French is Wallonia. It was a good thing we had a French astronomer with us, else things would’ve been a bit more complicated since no one really spoke English or Dutch. It seems strange that in one country there are two groups of people who can’t even talk to each other!
Next though we did visit a famous Trappist brewery, Chimay-
I must confess though, Chimay was maybe my least favorite of all the breweries we visited. The beers weren’t so good and the service was bad- even the French astronomer said so!- because of things like how they forgot Yvette’s order and it came almost an hour late and wasn’t even very good when it did show up. Plus La Trappe and Leffe had been a lot of fun so I was a little disappointed.
Oh well, if they were all good there wouldn’t be a favorite! And the next brewery was my favorite! But I am a little tired typing this all out with my paws, and will continue the adventure later…