Belgium: An Abbey Defends Its “Authentic Trappist” Beer

July 12, 2021
Source: FSSPX Spirituality
The Notre-Dame de St.-Remy Abbey Brewery

For more than ten years a dispute has pitted the Trappist Abbey of Notre-Dame de St.-Remy in Rochefort (province of Namur) against the Lhoist mining company.

The latter wishes to continue operating the La Boverie limestone well, located near the monastery, until 2046. The operation threatens the Tridaine source, from which the abbey has drawn water for its brewery since 1892.

This source is fed by the water table located near the abbey. No chemical, physical, or other treatment is applied to this naturally pure water. A court decision on appeal allows the religious to keep this source with which they brew an “authentic Trappist” beer.

This would have been the end of one of the eleven breweries in the world that carry the “authentic Trappist” label. The Liege Court of Appeal ruled that although the source belongs to the mine owner, he has no right, under a contract dating from 1833, to cut off the water supply to the monastery.

In addition, according to the monks, the global mining giant's expansion plans violate a 1984 agreement, according to which that the company is not allowed to mine below an already reached depth of 220 meters; the spring water is over 211 meters down. In their defense, the Trappists launched an online campaign in 2013: “Save the Tridaine source.”

Each year the Trappists of Rochefort produce tens of thousands of hectoliters of strong beer, whose fruity and caramelized aromas are praised by connoisseurs. This beer seems to be saved, temporarily. Because the mining company is studying the possibility of appealing the Liège judgment to the Court of Cassation, an adverse result could still arise.

The “Authentic Trappist Product” label, created in 1998 and conferred by the International Association of Trappists, authenticates the origin of the beer. Production must be maintained in the abbey, the profits going to the charities of the monastic community, and the production must be supervised by monks.

This is why the Belgian beer Achel lost this label with the departure of the last two monks from the abbey of St.-Benoît d'Achel (province of Limbourg), to join the abbey of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur in Westmalle.

In Belgium, five breweries produce “Authentic Trappist Product” beers: Chimay (Notre-Dame de Scourmont abbey), Orval (Notre-Dame d'Orval abbey), Rochefort (Notre-Dame de St.-Rémy abbey), Westmalle (abbey Notre-Dame de la Trappe du Sacré-Cœur), and Westvleteren (Notre-Dame de St.-Sixte abbey).

Six other beers benefit from this label: La Trappe (Notre-Dame de Koningshoeven abbey) and Zundert (Notre-Dame du Refuge abbey) in the Netherlands; Spencer (St. Joseph Abbey, United States), Engelszell (Stiff Engelszell, Austria), Tre Fontane (Monastery of St. Vincent and St. Anastasius at the Three Fountains, Italy) and Tynt Meadow brewed since 2018 at the Abbey of Mont St.-Bernard in England.

L’abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy