On my recent trip to Belgium in December, 2007, I made a third visit to Brouwerij Westmalle, at Abdij der Trappisten van Westmalle, about 22 km from Antwerp. I also visited the brewery in 2002 and 2004, and sat in on the Vespers service in the Abbey in 2002.
They have been brewing beer there since 1836, and the Tripel is the benchmark of the style. The monk's Extra and the Dubbel are great brews as well.
It was a very cold day, but we had a warm greeting from brewmaster Jan Adriaensens, who has been with the brewery many years. Many thanks to Jan for such a great visit, and to my friend Danny Van Tricht for driving. I have uploaded some photos to my photo site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/belgianbeerspecialist/
The Cafe Trappisten, located across the street, is being replaced by a new cafe sometime this summer. Construction of the new building was going on during our visit. The present cafe is very atmospheric, and has many of the brewery's products, such as a delicious cheese. We had a fine dish of Spaghetti Bolannaise, accompanied by a "trip-trap", which is a 50/50 mix of the Dubbel on draft and Tripel in bottles. What a great lunch!
For those traveling in Belgium without a car, I have good news: there is a bus from Antwerp that stops right in front of the cafe. It takes about 45 minutes, depending on traffic. So my advice is to get to the Cafe Trappisten and enjoy the brews and food!
The Westmalle beers are imported stateside by the fine folks at Merchant du Vin. See: http://www.merchantduvin.com/