|Gates to Koningshoeven Abbey - La Trappe|
We met at the wonderful Golden Tulip hotel in Den Bosch, dropped off our luggage and hopped on a bus to the Koningshoeven Abbey which is located near Tulburg in North Brabant, about half an hour south of Den Bosch. We were there to visit the Trappist abbey that brews the world famous La Trappe beers.
The current brewery is quite modern with shiny stainless steel vessels. The weren't brewing that day though so we were able to walk around freely.
Their production facility is very impressive though with bottling lines and kegging areas and most impressively of all, a large robot arm doing all the heavy packaging. After watching a very well put together video explaining how Trappist beer is made and how Monks make all the decisions and supervise the secular workers, I was disappointed not to see any actual monks like in the video. Afterwards I discovered that the monks don't dress like monks as the video shows, they wear normal clothes for health and safety reasons which makes a lot of sense. Here's a short version of the video if you are interested.
As part of the tour, we were also shown the old brewery which they keep now for historical purposes so visitors can see the old copper kettles.
We were treated to some lunch and beer in the beer garden under a blazing sun before it was time to head off. There were two options, we could cycle the 16km to Oirschot or get the bus. I of course cycled.
This was my first time experiencing cycling in the Netherlands and it was quite an experience. There are cycle-ways everywhere and it's such a pleasant experience, especially when the sun is shining and you are cycling alongside canals
I was enjoying myself so much, I decided to take a rare selfie while cycling. You can just see Sarah Finney behind me.
A little over an hour later, we arrived in Oirschot and Brouwerij Vandeoirsprong. The bus had just arrived a few minutes before having stopped in a village along the way. Our cycle was much slower than I would normally go, we were about an hour and 10 minutes but normally I would do 16km in about 45-50 minutes. That was because I couldn't go any faster than our party leader who was keeping a sedate pace for those behind us.
With a beer in hand, it was time to experience the Vandeoirsprong brewery which was launched in 2015 but the brewery building itself had been a brewery for 350 years.
The impressive tasting room is tastefully decorated with a mixture of modern and old styles and has an impressive array of beer available to sample.
I'll just pop a quick picture of the brewery in here so you can see it. It's all modern, shiny stainless steel and quite compact. They have plenty of space to grow in other buildings and the massive courtyard.
After this, we were back on the bus and back to Den Bosch which other than a quick walk from the train station to the hotel, I hadn't really seen yet. More on that next time.