Westmalle (abbey Our Lady of La Trappe of the Sacred Heart)

- History of the brewery of Westmalle (2/2)

The first world war reduced the activities of the abbey, which started again actively in 1921. The needs of the abbey and the uncertainty of these times of economic crisis led Father Tarcisius to decide to increase the output of the brewery; that was the only way to face the future challenges of the community.

In 1926 and 1929, a man named Hendrik Verlinden came to assist the Trappists of Westmalle who had difficulties with their “Dubbel Bruin” and “Extra Gersten” beers. Mr. Verlinden eventually launched the famous Witkap Pater beers.

Some enlargements of the brewery were carried out, but it was finally necessary to build a new brewery. This decision was made on September 2, 1933, when the community approved the construction of an entirely new brewery. Construction started on January 5, 1934. This is considered as the real start of the marketing of the beers of Westmalle on a large scale. A stable source of income had been found by the abbey that also allowed the continuation of its social works. Construction of the new brewery took about a year, during which the old brewery continued production. In 1934, the new modern brewery started to produce the Trappist beers.

In parallel, in 1932, the prior of the abbey of Westmalle deposited the word “trappistenbier” for the beers of Westmalle. This deposit was carried out again in 1933 by the ‘ASBL Abbaye de Westmalle’. November 19, 1935, Westmalle deposited the model of a beer bottle with the letters A and W sanded on the neck. On December 28 of the same year, the bottle, still in use today, was deposited.

The following beers were then produced: “Extra”, “Dubbel Bruin” and the “Blond”. The “Triple” was launched in the 1950’s to replace the “blond” and became the great success that we know.

Production constantly increased over the years. The consumption of malt, 400 tons in 1934, has reached around 3500 tons today, being used to produce nearly 130.000 hectolitres of beer. The brewery constantly modernizes equipment, the different steps of manufacture are controlled by computer, and a new bottling room (2002) offers among the best performances known in Europe.

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Sand blasted bottles (~ 1935)

 


Label of a beer seller