Westmalle Trappist brewery opens to public for first time

Westmalle Brewery will open to the public for the first time in September. The brewery will be open on 25 and 26 September, by reservation only, with 750 tickets available. Online booking opens on Wednesday via the abbey's website.

The brewery produces about 120,000 hectolitres of Extra, Dubbel and Tripel each year. A lay crew of about 50 people manages operations under the supervision of the abbey community.

Westmalle began brewing at the Antwerp Kempen abbey in 1794, and from 1836 it has been producing beers bearing the authentic Trappist product label. Only four other Belgian abbeys produce Trappist beers: Westvleteren, Rochefort, Chimay and Orval.

"We have had to disappoint many people for many years. Now we think the time has come to give them that chance after all," Bart Wellens, commercial director of Westmalle Brewery, told VRT of the decision to open for the first time. 

"Everyone evolves with time. The abbey has also understood that the world has changed"

"Until now, the tradition has been to focus on community life. The brewery shouldn't disrupt that either. But everyone evolves with time. The abbey has also understood that the world has changed and that it is important to show for once what happens behind the walls."

Visits to Trappist breweries are extremely rare. Orval Brewery in Wallonia occasionally opens to the public, this year on 13 and 14 September. All places for that event are already booked. Westmalle says it would consider repeating its visitor days if there is demand.

Tours of the brewery cost 12.50 euros, with a portion of earnings going to Coda, a charitable foundation working in palliative care. The visits last 90 minutes and include a tasting.


#FlandersNewsService | © PHOTO BELPRESS

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