Belgium: Westmalle Abbey sells associated Trappist brewery to secular owners

Belgium loses one of its six Trappist breweries after Saint Benedict Abbey of Hamont-Achel — better known as the Achelse Kluis — was sold to a private individual. Before that it belonged to Westmalle Abbey, another famous Trappist brewery.

Already in January 2021, exactly 2 years ago, the brewery was stripped of its official Authentic Trappist Product (ATP) label after the brewing process was no longer monitored by monks, one of the basic requirements for the ATP label. (, 21.1.2021)

However, the beer could still be marketed as a Trappist beer, since Achelse Kluis continued to belong to the Trappist church in Westmalle Abbey. With the new owner, the Belgian entrepreneur Jan Tormans, Achel will no longer be a Trappist beer..

​Jan Tormans is CEO of Tormans Group, an engineering firm with offices in Geel, Antwerp, Mechelen and Evergem. He started his business in 1999 and employs today more than 400 engineers and technician in engineering projects for leading national and international companies.

The new owner of Achelse Kluis wants to continue all existing commercial activities of the former abbey. He wants to further develop the touristic potential of the abbey site which is located next to the De Groote Heide nature reserve on the border of Belgium and the Netherlands. One of the plans is to convert the old abbey, which is a protected heritage site, and the new abbey from the 1950s into a reflection center and guest house. The appearance of the buildings and the nature around them will be preserved.

The brewery will remain the economic spearhead, of all activities. It is intended to increase the current production of 5,000 hectoliters per year to 12,000 and by 2030 to 40,000 hectoliters. Nothing will change in the authentic recipes and the Achel beers will continue to be brewed in the Achelse Kluis. Although the beers will no longer be allowed to be called Trappist beers, Tormans will continue to stress the abbey heritage. “'Recognised Belgian abbey beer' also sounds good", Tormans is convinced.

In due course he will develop also other activities such as a restaurant and a dairy for the production of cheese.

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