Water, pumped up from a depth of 150 meter is the basis of all St. Bernardus beers. This water is not only the purest but has also a historical background. Scientists have proved that the water that is pumped up now, is originating from rainfall from the time of Jeanne d’Arc. The water seeped to Watou through a pervious stratum of sand from the St. Omer area in France. After brewing, the beer is maturing in a natural way and subsequently bottled unfiltered. By adding sugar and yeast, the beer gets a second fermentation in the bottle, carbonating the beer in a natural way. This gives the beer a beautiful and large froth.
The brewery is located in the most remote corner of West Flanders, in the middle of “Le Plat Pays”, in the heart of the hop area in West Flanders, a beer is made that fancies most of the beer lovers.
In this poetry village, called Watou, time is apparently passing by slower than in the rest of the country. Life over there is different, quieter; where people live in accordance with nature, where tradition and values are honoured as if they stand the tooth of ages. This is the case of the beer brewery for instance.
Due to the anti clerical policy in the beginning of the past century, the Catsberg Abbey Community, located in the northern part of France, decided to move to Watou, a small village only a couple of kilometres further away but located in Belgium. They transformed a farm into the “Refuge Notre Dame de St.Bernard” with the production of Abbey cheese as main production. With the yield of the sales, they financed the Abbey activities.
In the early thirties, the attitude versus the Clerical in France got better and in 1934, the Abbey community decided to dispose of the Belgian annex and to bring back all activities to France. Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus decided to stop to commercialise their beer as they wanted to call upon non-residents.
An agreement was made : inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery there would brew only beer for their own consumption, for sales to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns whom where connected to the Monastery. Mr. Deconinck on the other hand would brew and commercialise the Trappist Beers under licence (for a period of 30 years) A new brewery was constructed and Mr. Deconinck started to brew the Sixtus beers with the help of the Masterbrewer of Westvleteren, who brought along his wisdom, knowledge and the original recipes.
In the beginning of the 60’s, the sun-in-law of Mr. Deconinck, Mr. Claus stepped into the brewery and negotiations started to renew the license. This was finalised in 1962, again for a period of 30 years (until 1992)
In 1992, the agreement came to an end because the Trappist Monasteries (5 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands) decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery.
Therefore, since 1992 the beers brewed at the Trappistenweg 23 in Watou are commercialised under a new brand name ‘ StBernardus’ (referring to the Refuge de Notre Dame de StBernard – cfr. supra).
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