Trappist Achel

Published on October 9, 2013.

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Photo: The old Achel Abbey, dating to 1846

The  Achel Trappist Abbey, more formally known as St. Benedictus Abdij de Achelse Kluis, in Hamont-Achel, Limburg Province, was founded in 1846 by monks from Abdij der Trappisten van Westmalle, better known simply as Westmalle. Hence, Achel is a “daughter” abbey of Westmalle. Meaning, it is under the supervision of that abbey.

Achel brewed from 1850 until 1912, when their monk brewer died. The copper brewkettles lay unused until the German army took them away in 1917.

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Photo: The draft-only Achel 5 degree bruin and blond beers.

In 1998, Brother Thomas of Westmalle, who helped refine the Abbey’s benchmark Tripel, came to Achel to help start a new small brewery. A number of beers were brewed at first. Brother Antoine, of the Rochefort Trappist brewery, also came to Achel to help.

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Photo: Secular brewer Marc Knops shoveling spent grain out of the mash tun.

In 2001, secular brewer Marc Knops was brought on, due to his technical brewing expertise. With his help, Achel finally settled on two five degree ales, a blonde and a dark, that are only available on draft at the brewery tasting café, as well as a Blonde and Bruin with 8% abv each, that are bottled in the 33 cl size.

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Photo: Secular brewer Marc Knops pouring an Achel Extra in the brewery cafe.

But perhaps the beer that Achel is best known for is the dark, strong, rich Achel Extra, which debuted as a Christmas brew in 2002. With 9.5% abv, and packaged in 75 cl bottles, it is a beer for sharing.

Achel later added a strong blond ale, in the same format.


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