Westvleteren (abbey Our Lady of St. Sixtus)

- History of the abbey - the brewery (1/2)

The brewery equipment obtained in 1838 was bought for 919 francs. The brewery was built inside the abbey, and the first brew was ready in the spring of 1839. Until 1871, when the priory was elevated to the grade of abbey by the bishop of Bruges, this beer was exclusively reserved for the monks’ consumption. The brewery was then modernized and, in 1877, the beer began to be marketed.

In 1927, father Dom Bonaventure De Groote, who stayed for many years as abbot of St Sixtus (1910-1943), began restoring the buildings of the abbey and made many improvements to the brewery. But, after the Second World War, Father Gerardus decided that the presence of a large brewery would likely disturb the monastic spirit. He consequently took measures which slowed the expansion of the brewery of Westvleteren.

In 1946, an agreement was made with the brewery St. Bernard in Watou. St Bernard would produce a beer according to the Trappist process. This beer would be sold via standard marketing methods.

The capacity of the abbey brewery was brought back to the strict needs for the community, approximately 3500 hl.

The bars and inns close to the abbey were sold, except for the Café "In De Vrede" located in front of the monastery.

Today, the decisions taken by Father Gerardus are still followed. About five monks work within the brewery, although this number can increase at times of bottling. The brewery is now in conformity with the most modern standards of production.

The beers are on sale only within the abbey, in a store located on the left of the entry and where it is possible to receive delivery directly to one’s car - a kind of monastic “drive-in!”. Beers are sold in wooden crates and have no label ; only the colors of their crowncaps are different. The Café de Vrede in front of the abbey also sells the abbey’s beer and offers simple but pleasant food. More information can be found on the Web site of the Café "In De Vrede" and the Web site of the abbey.

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