A winter walk in Aubel

I recently learned that there’s an abbey brewery just to the south of Hasselt. I was surprised that I’d never heard of it before, since it’s only three-quarters of an hour’s drive from here. But I’ve found that’s a peculiarity of life in Belgium: Here in Flanders, we hear relatively little about anything happening in Wallonia, no matter how close it may be. I know much more about cities on the other side of Flanders than I do about places just across the language border.

So the other day, my husband and I took our dog and drove to Aubel, where we went on a wonderful winter walk, visited the abbey of Val-Dieu and tasted the beers in the abbey’s cozy café. There was snow on the ground, but that didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the day. The abbey’s beers, four in all, were very tasty. My husband usually prefers blondes (beers, that is) and I prefer dark beer, but we both liked the rich, dark Grand Cru best.

If you’re interested in visiting an abbey brewery, and combining a beer tasting with a leisurely hike through some gorgeous countryside, I can recommend Aubel and the Abbey of Val-Dieu. The abbey gift shop sells a map with walking trails, and the café is open until 6:30 pm. There are guided visits of the abbey for individuals on Saturdays at 1:30 from May to September.

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