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Belgian abbey beer La Cambre makes a comeback
La Cambre, the range of Brussels abbey beers that looked to have been consigned to the history books, is making a return. At the end of last year, it was announced that the production would move to the Mechelen brewery Het Anker with many fans fearing that the traditional brew would change or cease to exist. Het Anker has now revealed that it is launching two new beers under the famous name.
With the end of a long-term licensing agreement with the La Cambre abbey brewery and the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, plus the relocation to Mechelen and the takeover of the brewing by Het Anker, many thought this would spell the end of the beer. But now, after a transitional phase, Het Anker is producing both a blonde abbey beer and an IPA beer. Although the bottles and labels have been given a complete makeover, the logo has been retained. The image of Dame Gisèle, who founded the Abbey of La Cambre in 1201, still appears on every bottle.
The new beers carry the label "recognised Belgian abbey beer", which means that – despite the production in Mechelen – there is a direct link with the abbey site. It also guarantees some payment to the abbey, which can be used in its charitable work or for the maintenance of its historic buildings.
It also marks a new start for La Cambre abbey beers, which were created about eight years ago by a Brussels entrepreneur. He was inspired by the history of the Abbey of La Cambre, where Cistercian sisters brewed beer for centuries for their own consumption as well as for travellers and pilgrims who stopped at the abbey on their journeys. But with the French Revolution, the abbey lost its original religious function, along with its brewing activity.
La Cambre beers are sold through the traditional distribution channels in Belgium, the Netherlands and France.