BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A small band of Belgian monks are planning to start producing their own beer again, more than 200 years after invading French troops stopped all brewing at the abbey.
The men from Grimbergen Abbey started making beer in 1128, but stopped in 1797 when the French took over the site and sold off the equipment.
After that, some of the world’s biggest drinks brands filled the gap - Heineken (HEIN.AS) unit Alken-Maes makes brown and blond lagers with the Grimbergen brand in Belgium. Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) sells them abroad, paying royalties to the abbey.
Now the monks have drawn up plans for their own micro-brewery to produce their own beers to sell alongside the other Grimbergen drinks on the market.
“We want to build a micro-brewery, on a small scale and linked with tradition, on the site where the brewery stood before the French Revolution,” said Sub-prior Karel Stautemas.
“What exactly the beer will be, we don’t yet know, but the tastes of before and now have changed. This will be a beer of the 21st century.”
The operation will be much smaller than the ones run by Belgium’s trappist abbeys, such as Chimay or Westmalle, he added. Other abbeys such as Leffe have also allowed their names to be used in products made by large brewers.
The abbey, which is home to about 20 monks, still needs to complete a feasibility study and secure approvals and licences, but hopes the new Grimbergen will be flowing by 2020, Stautemas said.
Alken-Maes and Carlsberg supported the project, he added.
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Andrew Heavens