The Trappist Abbey of Achel or Saint Benedictus-Abbey is famous for its spiritual life and its brewery, which is one of few Trappist beer breweries in the world. Life in the abbey is characterised by prayer, reading and manual work, the three basic elements of Trappist life.

In 1648, at the end of the Eighty Years War, the Treaty of Münster was signed between Spain and the Netherlands. The result of the treaty was that the Catholic mass was not allowed in the Dutch Republic. Therefore, Catholics from Valkenswaard and Schaft built a chapel in Achel which was part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The early roots of the Abbey date back to 1686, when Petrus van Eynatten, a son of the mayor of Eindhoven, founded a community of hermits of Saint Joseph. The community would flourish until 1789 when they were expelled from their convent after the French revolutionary army invaded the Austrian Netherlands. The abbey was sold to Jan Diederik van Tuyll van Serooskerken.

On 21 March 1846 the Trappists from Westmalle Abbey founded a priory in Achel (first founded in Meersel-Dreef on 3 May 1838 in a former monastery of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin). The abbey and its 95 hectares of land had been bought by the priest Gast from Heeze on 9 April 1845 with the support of several beneficiaries. The first beer to be brewed on the site was the 'Patersvaatje' in 1852. In 1871, the priory was granted the status of abbey and beer brewing became a regular activity. By reclaiming wasteland, the agriculture and cattle-breeding of the abbey prospered. In addition several daughter-houses were founded in Echt, Diepenveen, Rochefort and the abbey of Notre Dame de l'Emmanuel in Kasanza in 1958 (Belgian Congo).

At the beginning of World War I (1914) the monks left the abbey. The Germans dismantled the brewery in 1917 to salvage the approximately 700 kg of copper. After World War II a new abbey was built between 1946 and 1952, but only two wings of the planned four were completed. In 1989 the abbey sold most of its land to the Dutch National Forest Administration and the Flemish Government. In 1998 with the support from the trappists from Westmalle and Rochefort brewing started again.

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Founded: 1686
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hakim Cherrat (3 years ago)
Camped in a place near and it was great. Large terrain where you can camp freely and make you're own fire
Victor Gatto (3 years ago)
Located just a stones throw from the border with the Netherlands, the Sint-Benedictusabdij is a Belgian Trappist Monastery that produces its own beer and cheese. There is free parking in the gravel when you drive up. The long buildings form a central paved courtyard which welcomes visitors. The old brick buildings have tile roofs with some sections having an upstairs level. The larger private monastery is located behind these public buildings in front. The most striking feature is the rounded apse of the large church building. There is also a small cathedral which is sometimes open to the public. The facilities of the monastery are large and sprawling, enclosed by a brick wall, and surrounded by woods and farmland. It is a lovely place. At the center of the building nearest the main road is their gift-shop and bookstore. It is filled with various religious memorabilia, candles, books and more. At the end of the interior courtyard are plenty of outdoor patio tables and on the right is a cafe that serves drinks and snacks. Here you can try the Achel Trappist ales right at the source. Windows along the back wall of the cafe showcase their brewhouse of a stainless steel brewing vessel and four stainless steel fermenters. The operation is smaller than I would have expected, but perhaps they have more equipment elsewhere nearby. In the middle of the long courtyard are large doors that open to their bottling room. Inside is a small modern bottle filling machine staffed by several men filling and packaging bottles. At the opposite end of the courtyard is a bottle shop and small grocery. Here you can purchase bottles of the Trappist beer to take home, and the shop has much more than just the Achel beers. They have bottles from most of the Trappist breweries in the world, including the Spencer Ales from the St. Joseph Trappist monastery in Massachusetts. Achel offer 4 styles of beer - Blond and Bruin in either regular version (8% abv) or Extra (9.5%). I find these to be quite delicious, excellent examples of Trappist Ales honed over many years. It is a charming, relaxing place to visit.
ranker 4u (3 years ago)
Nice selection of beer and glasses i the shop. Enjoy a nice trappist beer in the cafe. Simple and tasteful food as well.
Joyeeta Chatterjee (3 years ago)
Nice relaxing place to go to if you are riding a bike from Eindhoven to Belgium. The bar has a good collection of brewed beer. Please keep in mind that you might need an invitation to enter the monastery (email/call to get an appointment before you go). It goes by the name of Saint Benedictus Abbey.
kristof geerts (3 years ago)
Very disappointing experience. Called to make an appointment for a tour, arrived earlier then the agreed time to get to hear that the ‘guy who gives the tours’ already left and won’t be coming back. This was especially disappointing as invited some colleagues from Taiwan to expierence this (only here for a week). To me this is unacceptable. If you make appointments - stick to it and else be honest and don’t agree to them. Do not recommend this place to anybody!
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