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History of beer in Belgium
Belgium is a country with one of the strongest beer tradition in the world dating back to the 12th century, when local French and Flemish abbeys brewed as a way to raise funds. But it was not until 18th century that trappist tradition arrived in Belgium, as trappist monks had to abandon France due to the French revolution. It's worth noting that trappist is not a style of beer, but a origin and just 12 monasteries in the world can sell trappist beer, 6 of them in Belgium: Rochefort, Orval, Westmalle, Westvleteren, Chimay and Achel. St. Bernardus beer is also based in the Westvleteren recipe, but their license with them expired in the 90's, and they can't longer sell under the trappist name. Both the trappist and non-trappist traditions have given birth to styles as Abbey Dubbel, Abbey Tripel, both pioneered by Westmalle, Quadrupel, Belgian Ale or Belgian Strong Ale.
Another strong brewing tradition in Belgium comes from the Lambic area. This style of brewing is characteristic from the area around Brussels—Pajottenland, in the Senne Valley—and is endemic of that region, as it depends on the wild yeast present on the valley. The beers are spontaneously fermented, and then mixed between old and new blends—the Gueuze Lambic style—or with fruits—like the Fruity Lambics. Famous lambic producers include Boon, Cantillon, Lindemans or 3 Fonteinen.
Brewers from Belgium
Brouwerij Boon is a brewery from Lembeek in Belgium, specialized in the production of lambic beers beers. It was founded by Frank Boon in 1978, after purchassing De Vits due to the retirement of their previous owners.
In the following years, Boon bought a factory in the center of Lembeek, and then converted it into the original Boon brewhouse. Appart from producing his own bland, Brouwerij Boon help small lambic breweries, sourcing the import of fruits and also bottling other lambic brewers like 3 Fonteinen, Oud Beersel and Mort Subite. He also produces under the name of former lambic brewers, such as Moriau or Dekoninck.
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Trappistes Rochefort - Brasserie de Rochefort is a Belgian Trappist brewery. This brewery is one of the only twelve monasteries allowed to use the trappist name and seal, along with other famous ones as Orval or Westmalle.
Rochefort Abbey was opened in the 13th century, and the brewery has been in production since 1595. For the brewing, they use their own water from the monastery well, as well as their own strain of yeast. The beer can be tasted in the monastery, that admits visitors. They follow the principles of the International Trappist Association
– They brew themselves the beer inside the monastery walls by 13 of their monks.
– The brewery is secondary to their monastic style of life.
– The brewery is non-profit, and the income is just used for covering their living expenses and the monastery manteinance.
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Orval is a trappist brewery located inside Orval Abbey, a trappist monastery in Belgium. Although the monastery was first opened in 1132, the monastery was closed at some points of history due to war, but its golden age was during the 17th to the 18th century, until it was burned down on the 23rd June 1793 by the revolutionary troops. The ruins were abbandoned from almost a century until 1931, when the brewery was created in order to finance the rebuilt of the monastery.
Orval currently produces just two varieties, and sells around 22 million bottles every year, selling more than 85% of them in the Belgian market.
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St. Bernardus is a brewery from Belgium. Originally, the monks were based in Mont des Cats in Godewaersvelde (France), but the anti-clerical policies in France in the late 19th century forced them to move to Watou (Belgium), a few km away from the original. There they opened the Abbey of Notre Dame de St. Bernard, and started producing trappist cheese.
In 1934, as the attitude towards monks in France improved, they came back to their original location, selling their cheese factory. After the WWII, other trappist monastery, St. Sixtus in Westvleteren gave a license to the cheesefactory in order to commercialize their beers. This marked the foundation of brewery St. Bernard, hiring the brewmaster from Westvleteren, Mathieu Szafranski, who brought the recipes and yeast strain from St. Sixtus.
The beers were sold under different names, Trappist Westvleteren, St. Sixtus or Sixtus, until the license came to an end in 1992. But the recipes and know how remained, and since them the beer is sold under the name St. Bernardus.
Other trappist breweries:
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Westmalle is a Belgian trappist brewery based in the homonimous abbey. Westmalle Abbey was founded in 1794 after a group of trappist monks fled from La Trappe in 1793 due to the French Revolution. This monks were planning to escape to Canada, but they were convinced by the local bishop, who granted them a small farm in Westmalle called Nooit Rust (Never Rest). In 1836, they managed to finish their abbey, and that same year they started brewing, being the two pioneers Father Bonaventura Hermans and Albericus Kemps.
In 1856, the monks started selling the beer, that could be purchased just by knocking on the abbey door. This beer was a strong brown beer, that would be later known as [Dubbel](/shop/westmalle/dubbel/). Later in 1934, the brewery would produce a strong pale ale that would be know as Tripel, and it´s considered as the beer that gave its name to the Dubbel style.
Other trappist breweries:
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Browerij Bosteels is a family brewery founded in 1791 by Evarist Bosteels, and belonged to the Bosteels family until its sale to ABinbev under the management of Antoine Bosteels—the 7th generation.
One of its more famous beer is the Tripel Karmeliet, which recipe is inspired from a 1679 recipe by the old Carmelite convent in Dendermonde.
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Brasserie d´Achouffe is a Belgian brewery founded in 1982 by Christian Bauweraerts and Pierre Gobron. Its name comes from the word chouffe, which means gnome in the Walloon dialect. Legend has it that in the time of the Templars, in the forests of Cedrogne, a colony of gnomes produced beer for the whole country until a landslide buried them alive, so the Belgians had to start producing their own beer. But in 1978, the surviving gnome visited the founders, teaching them the recipe for their first beer, the Golden Chouffe.
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The Priory of Corsendork in Oud-Turnhout (Belgium) was founded as a brewery and malt house in 1398, until it the Priory was closed in 1784 by Austrian Emperor Josepth II. It was rebuilt in 1968 and started operating as a hotel, and in 1982 started to give the brand to two local beers, that became the Corsendonk Pater and the Corsendonk Agnus.
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De Halve Maan
De Halve Maan es una cervecería histórica situada en el centro histórico de Brujas (Bélgica). Su nombre significa media luna, y produce cervecas bajo tres marcas diferentes: Straffe Hendrik, Brugse Zot y Halve Maan. La cervecería pertenece a la familia Maes desde hace 7 generaciones, y en 2008 instalaron una tubería de cerveza de 3 km. por debajo del centro de Brujas para conectar su cervecería con la planta embotelladora.
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Brasserie Dupont is a Belgian brewery founded in 1950 but operating as a brewing farm since 1759. Its first name was Rimaux-Derrider farm-brewery, producing honey and saison beers. The farm was bought in 1920 by Alfred Dupont, who gave it to his son Louis, who started to develop the saison recipe, and a few years later handed it to his nephew Sylva Rosier, who developed and managed to keep the brewery alive during WWII, and continuing the family tradition that lasts until today. Dupont is worldwide famous for their saisons, elaborated with a special yeast strain that allows them to ferment at unusually high temperatures (even higher than 32º).
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