Discover the beer and breweries of Belgium.

Val-Dieu, celebrating 800 years of Belgian beer culture

Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2016-12-06 11:42:43 +0100 / Last Updated: almost 4 years ago

Val-Dieu Triple Val-Dieu Triple

VAL-DIEU - Those monks certainly picked some beautiful spots for their abbeys. The rumble of the busy motorway lies far behind me as I swap the flat northern Belgian landscape for the gently rolling hills of the south. Val-Dieu Welcome to Val-Dieu
Everywhere I look cows and sheep are wandering around a sea of orchards bordered with hedgerows and criss-crossed by hollow roads.

Until, suddenly, that well-known silhouette comes into view with its unmistakable bronze-green spire. Tucked away within all this greenery lies Val-Dieu Abbey, for eight centuries a magnet for pilgrims, and today also a destination for day-trippers, and those who enjoy the good life and good beer.

You simply cannot draw your eye away from this monument of the 17th – 18th-century Maasland renaissance, liberally sprinkled with Romanesque and Gothic architectural influences.

The last monk closed the door on his way out in 2001, and the abbey and its grounds are now managed by a small lay community of about 20 members. But continually since 1997 the courtyard has been fragrant with malt.

The Brasserie de Val-Dieu brewery is housed in the former abbey farm, and the brewing tanks are filled with Val-Dieu Blonde, Brune, Triple, Noël, Grand Cru, and special occasion beers, like the Cuvée 800 that commemorates the 800th anniversary of the Abbey in 2016.

Val-Dieu, Brasserie Val-Dieu A well-known silhouette...

Turning Detective

It’s obvious that brewer, Virginie Harzé, and her team leave nothing to chance. I watch them at work tasting beer, directed by Laurent Melotte, a bio-engineer. Marin Bosquin, Virginie Harzé, Val Dieu Marin Bosquin & Virginie Harzé

This little panel is assessing three different Val-Dieu Triple brews. Fruity, zesty, malty… aromas and tastes are dissected down to the smallest detail. Are there ‘off flavours’, which point to mistakes made during the brewing process, or has something gone wrong during bottling, causing the beer to oxidise? These brewers work like detectives.

‘It’s always interesting to keep track of how the beer evolves in the bottle,’ Virginie says. ‘The proof of the beer is in the drinking.’

The abbey’s tavern, Le Casse-Croûte, knows just how to serve these beers: the quaffable blonde, the brown abbey beer with touches of mocha, and the dryly bitter, well-balanced triple. If there is no room at the inn then you can taste the beers, accompanied by a meal if you like, in Moulin du Val Dieu, an ancient water mill just across the road from the abbey.

Here you are in the heart of the Land of Herve, known for its pungent, strong Herve cheese. This region is also famous for its fruit syrups (apple and pear), ciders, and beers, as you are reminded at every turn.

Herve Cheese, Val-Dieu Local Herve cheese

Hearty Food

Forewarned is forearmed, and you should know that a Herve cheese must be treated with respect! It will reduce an insipid beer to nothing, but a blonde, brown or tripel from Val-Dieu will fit it to a tee. Val Dieu, Val-Dieu Toasted cheese and bacon sandwich & Val-Dieu Blonde
If, even then, you find this cheese is rather on the strong side, we recommend you try a milder Aubel cheese, or perhaps a slice of bread covered in local syrup – to tone down the cheese - and just a smidgen of the Herve.

The syrups get everywhere here: it is also an essential ingredient of Liège Meatballs (Boulets à la Liégeoise), a favourite regional speciality. Connoisseurs can spot the mild and sour syrups from the apple varieties used.

We put this to the test ourselves at lunch in Au Vieil Aubel in the village of Aubel. Marin Bosquin, the co-owner of Brasserie de Val-Dieu, orders a Val-Dieu Brune and I plump for the Blonde.

Before long, the Aubel cheese croquettes – with syrup, of course – and a toasted cheese and bacon sandwich appear on the table. Later on, to go with our grilled ham, we are presented with a stronger beer, Val-Dieu Triple.

We finish our trip with a cheese tasting at Quai des Champs in Herve, coming to the conclusion that a Val-Dieu Grand Cru does have the power to tame even a Herve cheese.

Visit Val-Dieu

Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val-Dieu
Val-Dieu 225
B-4880 Aubel

Facebook: Val-Dieu

Recent Blog Posts

Brussels Beer Challenge 2019, and the winners are...
BRUSSELS/MONS - We’ve made our way down to the historic city of Mons (Bergen) for the eighth edition of the international Brussels Beer Challenge. A 90-strong jury is busy tasting; there are four morn ... [ read more ]
Brugge Tripel contributes to renovation of Burgundian chapel of worship
BRUGES - This city draws you back in time to the heydays of the Burgundian era. After years of renovation works the Gruuthusemuseum has re-opened its doors. This former city ... [ read more ]
Brewers of Europe Forum 2019: Craftsmanship on the old continent
ANTWERP - Brewers from 59 different countries flocked to attend the Brewers of Europe Forum 2019 in the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall, right next to the renowned Antwerp Central Station building. ... [ read more ]
Craftsmanship and balance at brewery Van Steenberge
ERTVELDE - To track down a brewer within his own domain is a high-ranking form of sports, or that’s the impression I get. After a bit of practice I spot Jef Versele, CEO of the Van Steenberge brewery, ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2018 - The results!
MECHELEN - The historic city of Mechelen, halfway between Brussels and Antwerp, is truly a hidden gem. The presence of the Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled here in the late middle ages, still permeates th ... [ read more ]


You must be logged in to leave a comment



Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles, the taste of the Gaume

RULLES - The Gaume region is situated between the forests of the Ardennes and the French region of Lorraine. But here, around Orval and Virton in the far south-eastern corner of Belgium, the sun ... [ more ]

Microbreweries feel at home at Brassigaume

MARBEHAN - Fifteen years from its inception, the Brassigaume Festival has put itself firmly on the map. For microbreweries in the South of Belgium, this is the main showcase to display their wares.... [ more ]

Belgian abbey beer - something for everyone

Enjoy a Belgian abbey beer and you will taste the fruits of a long tradition that is thankfully still around today. For centuries on end, abbeys were the ‘engine’ of the economy. It is hard to o... [ more ]


More Beer

Monks have made an important contribution to the success of Belgian beers. Unlike the majority of their historical contemporaries, they were literate, and thus able to document the... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.