Yves Herman / Reuters
The last time Belgium's Grimbergen Abbey brewed beer was the US only about 20 years old. But the monastery is now planning to make beer again, and for inspiration it will turn to the original recipes and brewing instructions in its archive of medieval texts.
After it was founded in 1128, Norbertine Abbey spent his fathers centuries of beer. But they were forced to stop when the monastery was destroyed in 1798. Now they want to come back to brewing – and in order to do so, they hope to use secrets they have obtained from ancient books that the monastery managed to preserve.  The Grimbergen name is already displayed on Belgian beer thanks to license agreements with two commercial breweries: Carlsberg brews Grimbergen beer to the international market, while Heineken-owned Alken-Maes brews to the domestic market in Belgium. The monastery becomes part of these profits; now it will be directly involved in making beer.
Sketching a new custom of traditional monastic brewing and business support, Karel Stautemas, the monastery's subprior, says he will receive formal education to help drive the new microbrewery. 19659011] "Beer has always been a part of life in the monastery, and we are proud of the beer we have today," Father Karel said on Tuesday when he announced plans for the new brewery.
Some of the books were rescued from the monastery library date to the 12th century. Those who are brewing beer are Latin and old Dutch, which makes it difficult to quickly identify which books to carry on the new project.
"We spent hours flipping through the books," said Karel. and has discovered ingredient lists for beer brewed in previous centuries, hops used, types of barrels and bottles, and even a list of actual beers produced centuries ago. "The monastery is located in the Grimbergen, a town about miles north of Brussels. The monastery has been destroyed several times since its founding – most recently in 1798, when French soldiers destroyed the monastery and its brewery under a fierce squeeze on the Catholic Church. (The area was recently attached by France.)
That the 1798 attack was devastating – but before its library was destroyed, the monastery's quick-thinking fathers flipped a hole in a wall and brought hundreds of books to safety.
Despite the monastery's repeated destruction, it has always been rebuilt.
For centuries, the Grimbergen Abbey has been associated with the symbol of a phoenix. The fathers adopted the mythical animal as part of their coat of arms in 1629, after rebuilding the monastery after religious wars. Phoenix also reflects the monastery's Latin motto: ardet nec consumitur – "burned but not destroyed."
The new brewery will sit inside the monastery walls and it will include a bar and restaurant for visitors. It is slated to open in 2020 with Karel and five or six other workers producing relatively small batches of beer.
As for the new beer, it will use the same Belgian yeast Carlsberg, who is currently using to produce rich, spicy notes in his Grimbergen brews. The abbey-produced beer will also undergo several fermentations and barrel aging to deepen its taste. And the breweries will try to use local hops and some of the same approaches found in the monastery library.
"We are happy to use these books to bring back the medieval techniques and ingredients to create new beers," said Marc Antoine Sochon of Carlsberg, who will be the new microbrewery's main jetty.