The last two monks left the Achelse Kluis almost three years ago, to move to Westmalle Abbey. The brewery and the Abbey Store were retained and are still very popular with hikers and cyclists visiting “De Groote Heide” nature reserve.
Once the brothers left and there was no longer an active monastic community on site, the right to use the ATP (Authentic Trappist Product) label expired; however, the registered "Trappist" trademark could still appear on the labels, since the brewery was being monitored by Westmalle Abbey. Recently the brothers of Westmalle Abbey discerned that remotely running a brewery is not part of their calling, so they have decided to sell the Achelse Kluis.
Now that the Achelse Kluis is changing hands and will no longer be owned by a Trappist community, the registered "Trappist" trademark can no longer be used either, which is only reasonable.
Jan Tormans is planning to continue all the activities presently on the site. He would like to increase the current beer production from 5,000 hectoliters per year to 12,000 hectoliters per year, and possibly to 40,000 hectoliters per year by 2030. The recipe for the Achel beers will not be changed; they will continue to be brewed in the Achelse Kluis.
The new owner would also like to develop the tourist potential of the abbey site and eventually convert the old monastery (a protected heritage monument), as well as the new 1950's abbey, into a guest house and a center for reflection. The Achelse Kluis is located on the border of Belgium and the Netherlands, next to “De Groote Heide,” a nature reserve. The brewery will continue to spearhead the economic activity, but in due time Tormans would like to develop other activities, such as a gourmet restaurant and a cheese dairy, while respecting the historical aspects of the heritage site. The appearance of the buildings, and the natural environment surrounding them, will be maintained.
Jan Tormans is CEO of the Tormans Group, an independent engineering consultancy with offices in Geel, Antwerp, Mechelen and Evergem. Trained as an engineer, he started his own company in 1999 which today employs more than 400 engineers and technical profiles. They carry out studies on commission, as well as being seconded for entire projects with clients such as Pfizer, GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica, ArcelorMittal, Bayer, Solvay and Umicore. In 2022, the company had a turnover of 36 million euros. Jan Tormans is also the driving force behind Tormans CX, the professional Cyclo Cross Team.