Tradition plus innovation: Grimbergen Abbey reopens brewery with new craft brews and innovation hub

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Father Karel Stautemas and Master Brewer Marc-Antoine Sochon. Pic: Carlsberg
Father Karel Stautemas and Master Brewer Marc-Antoine Sochon. Pic: Carlsberg

Related tags Belgium Beer Craft beer Europe Carlsberg

Belgian beer brand Grimbergen has unveiled its new Grimbergen Abbey Brewery: marking the first time in 200 years that beers have been brewed inside the walls of the abbey.

The new Abbey Brewery near Brussels will serve as an innovation hub: ‘combining brewing traditions drawn from the ancient books of the abbey’s library with new and innovative techniques to craft unique limited-edition batches of exceptional premium beers.’

Carlsberg Group, the global licensees of Grimbergen, says the brand is ‘at the very heart’ of its growing portfolio of craft and specialty beer: a category seeing double-digit growth.

900 years of history

The abbey was founded nearly 900 years ago: but brewing was ceased when the building was destroyed in the French Revolution.

The new Abbey Brewery was built through a partnership between the Grimbergen Abbey and Carlsberg Group.

Father Karel Stautemas, Provisor at the Abbey, has joined the brewing team as Abbey Brewer. When Covid allows, he will complete his brewing qualifications. 

He will combine his day-to-day monastic life with the running of the Abbey Brewery, supporting Master Brewer Marc-Antoine Sochon (a 28-year-old 'brewing wunderkind' from France).

Sochon said: We are setting a marker for Belgian beers worldwide. The new brewery allows us to craft batches of delicious beers inspired by new and old brewing techniques to create brand-new sensory experiences. These new brews will provide fans of Grimbergen and others with the chance to journey through amazing new tastes and flavors that could only be conceived in the unique surrounds of Grimbergen Abbey.”

The first three brews to be produced at Grimbergen Abbey Brewery are Grimbergen Magnum Opus Brut Beer; Grimbergen Ignis Quadruple; and Grimbergen Astrum Pale Ale.

Craft and specialty brews

Grimbergen is one of the brands in Carlsberg’s craft and specialty beer division: a category which posted volume growth of 13% in Q1, 2021 and is a key priority for the company. The portfolio also includes international cider brand Somersby.

In 2020, the category saw particularly notable growth in European markets such as Poland, Norway, Switzerland and Russia, and also in China.

Cees ‘t Hart, CEO of Carlsberg Group, said: “Grimbergen is at the very heart of our growing portfolio of craft and speciality beer and it is contributing to the strong double-digit growth we’re seeing in the category. The new Abbey Brewery is an important step for us in continuing to develop our speciality brews to meet growing worldwide demand. We believe this beautiful Abbey Brewery will take us, and beer drinkers around the world, on an incredible journey of flavour discovery.”  

Grimbergen Abbey Brewery also features an on-site bar and restaurant. Later this year, Grimbergen will also open a Brewery Experience Centre.

Grimbergen Magnum Opus Brut Beer:
'Delicate notes of succulent pear, zesty orange and sweet vanilla notes are complemented by a gentle, sometimes sweet, malt quality. Magnum Opus uses burgeoning golden malts to present an elegant beer, with Nelson Sauvin hops bringing real sparkle to the brew, one that is just perfect for any celebration.'

Grimbergen Ignis Quadruple: 

'Ignis Quadruple is inspired by the Fathers’ spirit to rebuild when fire wreaked havoc on all that they treasured. Like the Abbey, it is a symbol of our light still burning brightly after all these years. Beech-smoked malts give Ignis Quadruple a delicious, fiery quality. Its smoky notes combine with the spicy characteristics of Grimbergen beers to create a strong, warming brew.'

Grimbergen Astrum Pale Ale: 

'Inspired by those Fathers at Grimbergen Abbey’s famous observatory, our brewers have been on a voyage of discovery of their own, searching the world for the very best hops to help our brews shine bright. In Astrum Pale Ale, we’ve used gorgeous Galaxy hops, imported from Tasmania, Australia, to provide a beguiling citrus aroma. And we’ve brought them together with the finest hops from Flanders to create a perfectly balanced brew.'

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