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A Belgian abbey has re-opened its brewery after more than 200 years

Grimbergen Abbey's brewery was destroyed during the French Revolution, but it's now been brought back to life!

Robert Percy posted in Beer
2d ago

It's not exactly unknown for breweries to close for a while and then re-open again. The money can dry up meaning that things have to shut down until a new investor is found or the buildings can fall into disrepair and need a period of having work done to make them safe again. The case of the re-opening of Grimbergen Abbey's brewery is very unusual though, as the last time it was making beer was over 200 years ago!

Provisor and Abbey Brewer, Father Karel Stautemas and Master Brewer, Marc-Antoine Sochon at the opening of the newly restored Grimbergen Abbey Brewery. (Image: PRNewsfoto/Grimbergen)

Provisor and Abbey Brewer, Father Karel Stautemas and Master Brewer, Marc-Antoine Sochon at the opening of the newly restored Grimbergen Abbey Brewery. (Image: PRNewsfoto/Grimbergen)

Grimbergen Abbey, which is located in the town of the same name in Belgium, came a cropper as a result of the French Revolution. As part of the collateral of the revolution the building which housed the brewery was destroyed. After that the site of the brewery just lay abandoned for over 200 years until a partnership was formed between the Abbey and Carlsberg Group. The partnership resulted in the brewery being rebuilt to serve as an "innovation hub, combining brewing traditions drawn from the ancient books of the abbey's library with new and innovative techniques to craft unique limited-edition batches of exceptional premium beers."

As part of the relaunch, three new Grimbergen Abbey-brewed beers have been announced; Grimbergen Magnum Opus Brut Beer, Grimbergen Ignis Quadruple and Grimbergen Astrum Pale Ale. These beers will only be made in limited quantities and are intended to carry on the lauded tradition Grimbergen beers have in beer circles.

Speaking at the launch of the new Brewery, Cees't Hart (CEO of Carlsberg Group) said that "it is a treat to be here at the beginning of Grimbergen's next chapter and to experience what we believe will enrich the future of Belgian beer. Grimbergen is at the very heart of our growing portfolio of craft and speciality beer and it is contributing to the strong double-digit growth we're seeing in the category."

"The new Abbey Brewery is an important step for us in continuing to develop our speciality brews to meet growing worldwide demand," he continued. "We believe this beautiful Abbey Brewery will take us, and beer drinkers around the world, on an incredible journey of flavour discovery."

Father Karel Stautemas, Provisor at the Abbey, was an instrumental part of building the new restored brewery and will serve as the Abbey Brewer once he has completed his brewing qualifications. "The new microbrewery is a place to reignite past traditions, just like our symbol the Pheonix we always have the strength to rise again, but to add fresh thinking too," Father Karel said.

"We want to combine our experience, nearly nine centuries of it, with innovation in pursuit of the most delicious and unique new brews. I think that the microbrewery allows us to do that, to explore and experiment with styles and ingredients in a really exciting way."

He will serve as Abbey Brewer alongside his monastic duties, supporting 28-year old Master Brewer Marc-Antoine Sochon. Sochon, originally from France, started brewing beer in his parents' garage and has since studied the arts of both brewing and wine making. "We are now brewing beer in the abbey for the first time again in over 200 years, a great celebration for the Fathers, for the Grimbergen community and for all those who love Grimbergen beer," Sochon said about the opening of the brewery.

"We are setting a marker for Belgian beers worldwide. The new brewery allows us to craft batches of delicious beers inspired by new and old brewing techniques to create brand-new sensory experiences. These new brews will provide fans of Grimbergen and others with the chance to journey through amazing new tastes and flavours that could only be conceived in the unique surrounds of Grimbergen Abbey."

Grimbergen Abbey Brewery also has an on-site bar and restaurant, which will allow visitors to try out the new beers and pair them with locally-made dishes. A Brewery Experience Centre will open up later in the year, giving visitors to the brewery "the opportunity to immerse themselves into the rich heritage of Grimbergen and the magic behind its innovation."

If you love your craft beers, Grimbergen Abbey is clearly one of the best places to go right now!

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Comments (3)

  • They're the happiest looking chappies!

      2 days ago
  • That is seriously cool! I really enjoyed reading this, great job!

      2 days ago