At Grimbergen Abbey, just outside of Brussels in Flemish Brabant, the monks have begun brewing beer on the premises again after 223 years, and are even launching three new types of their famous Grimbergen beer.
1. A rich history
Grimbergen Abbey itself has been destroyed by fire three times during various wars since its creation in 1128, and has been rebuilt by the Fathers every time. The abbey’s symbol of the Phoenix acknowledges this heritage, as well as the nine centuries worth of Grimbergen’s brewing expertise, showing how the abbey and its monks have repeatedly ‘risen from the ashes’ to thrive again.
Over the years the monks of Grimbergen have created new brews, using the abbey’s unique yeast, taken from its cellars almost nine centuries ago. Now however, after 223 years the monks return to brewing beer on the abbey premises and producing three new types; Grimbergen Magnum Opus Brut Beer, Grimbergen Ignis Quadruple and Grimbergen Astrum Pale Ale. The beer will be made using a new brewing infrastructure, and on Thursday the monks unveiled the innovative new brewery inside the famous Grimbergen Abbey.
2. A new chapter for Belgian beer
The funding for the new brewing infrastructure comes from beer giants Carlsberg and Alken-Maes, the latter of which will continue to manufacture the existing Grimbergen beers, including the famous Grimbergen blond. The money generated will be used by the monks to maintain their buildings. Speaking from the launch of the Abbey Brewery Cees ‘t Hart, CEO of Carlsberg Group, who are the global licensees of Grimbergen, said, “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. 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 instrumental in building the new facility and has joined the brewing team as Abbey Brewer. When Covid allows, he will complete his brewing qualifications, allowing him and his fellow fathers to continue the legacy of generations of Fathers before him. He said, “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. 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.”
Father Karel combines his day-to-day monastic life with the running of the Abbey Brewery, supporting Master Brewer Marc-Antoine Sochon, who has also been heavily involved in bringing the new brewery to life. Speaking to VRT, Abbey provisor Karel Stautemans said, “It’s a pity you can’t see my face, because without my mouth mask you would have seen a big smile.” Adding, “In English they say ‘amazing’, ‘great’! This is a historic moment for the abbey community and for the town of Grimbergen.”