Thursday, 17 January 2008

Notes de terroir: Affligem

Let's cut the controversy and the count of walloon vs flemish beers: this one is brewed in Flanders. Made in Opwijk in the north-east of Flemish Brabant province, midway between Brussels and Ghent, Affligem beers are brewed by De Smedt/Affligem brewery, also called Op-Ale brewery. Once again, as Chimay and Leffe, Affligem manages to produce huge amounts of beer without losing the authentic feel of craft beer making.

Founded in 1074, the abbey, once the biggest in the Duchy of Brabant, managed to stay out of brewing habits for exactly 500 years. Now brewed in the village of Opwijk, just kilometres from the original brewing site, Affligem is promoted and sold worldwide by its Amsterdam based owners: Heineken International.

Affligem is as of today the only abbey beer under Heineken ownership, some say its Crown Jewel. The Dutch beer giant has pledged to develop the fine beer. Whatever development strategy Heineken has in store, Affligem beers are produced under a licence that protects the delicacy and complexity of its taste, as acknowledged by our competing athlete.

As the abbey of Floreffe, Affligem has its own music festival. Now where in Floreffe they prefer world music, the monks of Affligem chose rock music as a theme for their festival. This is of course not by accident that two of the abbeys we virtually visited so far mix both beer making and loud music since these are two of Belgium's wider spread specialities.

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