The abbey was founded in 1128, and since then the place has been destroyed and rebuilt by fire three times! This explains why the abbey decided to adopt a Phoenix as a symbol of rebirth and the motto “ardet nec consumitur”, which translates to “burned, but not destroyed”.
Grimbergen Abbey’s brewery was ransacked and destroyed by French troops in 1795 and along with it a lot of other things were destroyed. One among those was feared to be a medieval recipe for beer. Luckily for them, the 12th-century recipe and methods were discovered in their archives, and the Belgian monks have FINALLY resurrected a beer that was last brewed 220 years ago. That sure is a LONG time!
According to The Independent, the Order of Canons Regular of Premontre at the abbey north of Brussels have started brewing their age-old recipe for a beer once again. They also have gotten a plan to begin a new brewery approved, which means that they will hopefully produce their first batch of 10.8% ales by late 2020. Father Karel Stautemas claims the abbey's monks believe it was important to adhere to the site’s heritage and tradition of brewing.
The Guardian reported that Father Karel Stautemas uncasked the first glass of beer in the presence of the town’s mayor and 120 journalists and enthusiasts. Stautemas also added that this development was a culmination of four years of research into the methods of monks that brewed beer in the Norbertine monastery before it was burned down by French revolutionaries in the late 1970s.
“We had the books with the old recipes, but nobody could read them,” Stautemas said. “It was all in old Latin and old Dutch. So we brought in volunteers. We’ve spent hours leafing through the books and have discovered ingredient lists for beers brewed in previous centuries, the hops used, the types of barrels and bottles, and even a list of the actual beers produced centuries ago.
There will be around five to six workers at the brewery, and the monk is one of them. “Brewing and religious life always came together," he said. Marc-Antoine Sochon, who is an expert at Carlsberg will be the project’s brewmaster. Sochon added that the brewery's plan is to make limited edition versions of beer that are already being made on a commercial scale using the abbey's name, Grimbergen.
He mentioned that the brewery would be trying out new methods, like barrel-aging and dry-hopping. The brewery will be a 10,000 hectolitre-per-year operation and they will be keeping the same yeast because that is what will bring “all the fruitiness and spiciness” to the beer they're brewing. The project is funded by Carlsberg and their aim is to use everything produced locally, including the barley that they will use from the abbey's garden.
Stautemas mentioned that only some elements from the book are being used. “I don’t think people now would like the taste of the beer made back then,” he said. Sochon chimed in, as he said: “In those times, regular beer was a bit tasteless, it was like liquid bread.” But to his surprise, Stautemas said that the monks, back then, kept making changes to the recipe. “What we really learned was that the monks then kept on innovating. They changed their recipe every 10 years," he added.
The monks are expected to follow the path of the Trappist beer makers. This means they will brew the beer within the walls of the abbey, they will control the brewing, and ultimately use profits for maintaining the abbey and supporting charities. The abbey was founded in 1128, and since then the place has been destroyed and rebuilt by fire three times! This explains why the abbey decided to adopt a Phoenix as a symbol of rebirth and the motto “ardet nec consumitur”, which translates to “burned, but not destroyed”.