We are EXTREMELY HONORED to bring you the third installment in our BREWERY OF THE MONTH series!
For the longest time, we kept looking at the 6-pack Mixed Selection box at our local Liquor Barn, and we kept telling ourselves, “This would be the perfect set to do a BREWERY OF THE MONTH feature on.” The store put these box sets on their shelves last December, so the beers have aged in the bottle at least 10 months since being bottled at the brewery.
You’ll notice that the St. Bernardus TRIPEL is missing in the 5-bottle picture above. We decided not to include that beer as part of this BREWERY OF THE MONTH feature, because we have previously written a BrewView on it. You can read that BrewView here.
How many of you remember drinking a “St. Sixtus” Quadrupel for the first time? In the 80’s and early 90’s, enjoying one of those was a cherished and very special treat. The St. Bernardus brewery IS one of the greatest in the world, with all of the beers in its portfolio consistently rated at the highest level.
ABOUT BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS
The history the St. Bernardus brewery is connected to 2 trappist monasteries, one gave it their name, the other gave it their beer.
The Cheese Factory – Trappist monks of Mont des Cats in Godewaersvelde, France. Due to the anti clerical policy in the beginning of the past century, the Catsberg Abbey Community, located in the northern part of France, decided to move to Watou, a small village only a couple of kilometres further away but located in Belgium.
They transformed a farm into the “Refuge Notre Dame de St. Bernard” and started with the production of Abbey cheese.
In the early thirties, the attitude versus the monks improved and in 1934, the Abbey community decided to dispose of the Belgian annex and to bring back all activities to France. Mr. Evarist Deconinck took over the cheese factory from the Trappist monks and expanded the cheese factory. The most important cheese was sold under the name St. Bernard Watou.
The cheese factory was sold in 1959 and the production is now in the hands of Belgomilk in Moorslede.
The Brewery – Trappist Monks of Westvleteren
Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus in Westvleteren was looking for somebody to commercialize their beer because they did not want to do that themselves anymore. They gave a license to the cheesefactory, and Brewery St.Bernard was founded. The brew master from Westvleteren, Mathieu Szafranski (from Polish origin) became a partner in the brewery and brought along the recipes, the know-how and the St.Sixtus yeast strain.
They started selling the trappist beers under the brand names Trappist Westvleteren, St.Sixtus or even later Sixtus.
During a period of 46 years they brewed and commercialized the beers, while the monks continued to brew for themselves and for sales to 3 pubs in the neighbourhood. Amongst them, the world famous cafe In De Vrede, just next to the monastery.
In 1992 the license came to an end and since then, they are brewing the same beers, with the same recipes, but under a different brand name: St. Bernardus. (Text (a bit revised) from St. Bernardus website: http://www.sintbernardus.be/geschiedenis.php?l=en)
WHERE TO ENJOY THE ST. BERNARDUS beers while in Belgium
In Belgium, there are countless pubs, cafes, hotels and restaurants to enjoy the full range of the St. Bernardus line of beers.
De Gouden Ster (The Golden Star) is the brewery’s on-premise café located right above their new offices. They offer screening of a short film on the brewing process (English spoken), a full tour of the brewery, the brewhouse and the bottling lines, and a tasting of a selection of St.Bernardus beers in the café. Each visitor will receive an attractive giftpack containing four St.Bernardus beers (Triple, Pater 6, Prior 8 and Abt 12) with one authentic glass included. There is also a gift shop where many different items can be purchased.
But no place (it is said by the locals) offers more of an authentic and wonderful eating and drinking experience than ‘t Hommelhof Gasthof-Restaurant in Watou.
Chef and owner Stefaan Couttenye has created a menu that holds on to tradition, but with new innovative creations. As he studied the market place, he wanted to branch out and be different. He did not want to prepare recipes that were “typical” of Cuisine à la bière: Moulé en Frite (Mussels and Fries), etc.
In his words, “Cooking means both thinking and doing! It is a fact that tastes complete one another or contrast, but the most important thing is to find the right balance. Like many others I thought that uncommonness was the key to success at first, but I soon started to realize that simplicity is complex enough. Trends and novelties are only granted a short life. Besides, you have to depart from the thought that only the best products are good enough, and for that you often have to wake up with the lark.”
“Gradually I got to know special and devoted producers, who were sometimes living just around the corner. Working with locals offers you the priceless advantage that you can follow the growth and breed process from beginning to end and acquire an unbelievable product knowledge.” I am more than happy to continue my fascinating voyage of discovery, as I am sure that the ultimate taste sensation is waiting for me somewhere along the way. Once I have reached that point, you will be the first to share in my ecstasy!”
BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS BREWVIEWS
Brewery of the Month-OCTOBER 2015
BREWVIEW #1: wit
BREWVIEW #2: watou tripel
BREWVIEW #3: pater 6
BREWVIEW #4: prior 8
BREWVIEW #5: ABT 12
BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS PROMOTIONAL COMPANY VIDEO