Some beers are available all over the world, including some Trappist beers. If you look hard enough, you can probably find a Chimay or an Orval nearly anywhere. However, some beers are only available at one spot. The most famous of those is Westvleteren. A lesser known Trappist option that’s only available in one spot is the highly respected but small production Trappist abbey of Achel. They produce four different beers. Three of those beers do leave the country and can be found found in the United States. The fourth is only available at the Abbey’s cafe and store.
Achel used to brew six different beers, or rather three different versions of the two main styles. They had a 5% ABV blond and brown ale to go with the 8% ABV pair. To round out the lineup, they produced an Extra version of each. The Blond 8, Bruin 8, and Extra Bruin are exported beyond Belgium’s borders. The Extra Blond, however, is only available onsite at the abbey. Achel Kluis is located in the countryside an hour’s drive east of Antwerp and is famed for its place sitting astride the border of Belgium and The Netherlands. There’s even a nice line painted in one of the paths with flags so you can stand in two countries at once, if that’s your thing.
A picture on the border, a trip into the Limburg province, and a rare bottle of beer: it’s a trip I highly recommend!
Appearance: Blond, off white head, great retention, light haze.
Aroma: Spice, banana, vanilla, herbal, grassy, citrus zest.
Taste: Spicy, banana, bitter orange, cracker,
Overall Impression: Achel Extra Blond is big on flavor with a mix of spice and yeasty notes. At 9.5% ABV, there are slight alcohol notes and a bit of residual sweetness. Whether you want to call it a strong blond or a blond quad, it’s a great Trappist and unique as a higher ABV blond where the Trappists are dominated by high alcohol dark beers.
Availability: Only at the Abbey cafe and shop.
And to think France had 65 Trappist monasteries before the French Revolution. How can you demolish places that make this amazing stuff?
Belgium’s gain I would say. Cheers!
World War I did far more damage to France’s brewing culture. They had like 2000 prior to WWI. At their lowest point, there were only 20 by the late 80’s.