Brouwerij Affligem - Affligem Blond
- ABV: 7.0%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 24
- Serving Temperature: 47-55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Chalice
This world classic Belgian Blond/Pale Ale presents a rich, golden color on the pour, capped by a voluminous head of creamy foam. Bottle-conditioned (re-fermented in the bottle) in the traditional fashion of authentic Belgian ales, carbonation is strong and leads to a steady stream of bubbles and an attractive collar, especially when using a nucleated glass. Some yeast may be present at the bottom of the bottle. Expect prominent spicy and earthy hop and yeast aromas overlaying a mild honey-like note, a touch of caramel, and a hint of graham cracker. On the palate this brew proves that while the malts may be pale, they are robust nonetheless. Look for this richly-flavored ale to offer a moderate honey sweetness along with a fruity character reminiscent of apple and pear. Countering this is a complex array of strongly spicy hops, light medicinal/phenolic notes, a bit of citric acidity, and a touch of woodiness. The robust carbonation adds bite as well, clearing the sweetness off the palate and leaving the finish long, spicy, and dry. A fantastic beer with richly-flavored foods, we recommend it with roast duck, grilled salmon, or lamb chops with apricot jus. Cheers!
The Affligem Abbey, located in the town of Affligem in the Belgian province of Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant), was founded around 1074 by six knights who renounced war and violence, and embraced the humble lifestyle of the Benedictine monks. Sadly, the abbey has been victimized by violence repeatedly; during its almost millennium-long history, the abbey has been destroyed numerous times during the political and religious struggles that swept through the region during the medieval period and beyond, including the French Revolution. Nevertheless, as each crisis subsided, the monks would always return, rebuild their abbey, and return to the business of – what else? – brewing beer.
It’s hard to say exactly when brewing began at Affligem Abbey, but the earliest surviving documentation of a brewery dates to 1129. For monks who would often fast for extended periods, beer was a critical form of sustenance – a form of “liquid bread” to keep them nourished during Lent and other times of sacrifice. Brewing tasks were carried out by paid workers until around the time of the French Revolution when the monks made the decision to take over the process themselves.
Hard times would fall upon the brewery when the Germans removed the abbey’s valuable copper brew kettles during the First World War, forcing brewing operations to come to a sudden stop. But our determined monks would not be dissuaded; after the war they purchased new kettles and by 1920 beer production was underway yet again. Unfortunately, World War II would prove to be another very difficult time, and production was halted once more. After the war, the monastery hired a new brewery near Antwerp to resume production of their recipe. Between 1956 and 1957, a Dubbel and a Tripel were introduced to complement their traditional Blond Ale.
The brewing of Affligem’s beers changed hands again in 1970 when the monks passed the brewing of their beers to Brouwerij de Smedt in Opwijk, just a few miles down the road from Affligem. Brouwerij de Smedt was founded around 1790, and until taking over production of Affligem’s beers, they were best known locally for their “Speciale Op-Ale,” a local favorite since 1935. Since 1970, however, the popularity of Affligem’s beers has exploded, and the brewery was renamed Brouwerij Affligem to reflect the brewery’s most famous brand.
The Affligem Abbey is still a functioning Benedictine monastery, complete with cultural center, archaeological museum, religious center, church, and a working farm for local young people. If you’re ever in the area, stop by to experience their artisan cheeses, fruit wine, and of course, their beer!
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