Belgium is far from the first to produce and distribute beer, however its roots within the industry stretch back further than most would believe...
Back in the 9th century, Charlemagne wanted to promote the development of the beer industry within Belgium, instructing each monastery throughout the country to start its own brewery. This not only offered the growth they were looking for, but also gave the monks additional self sufficiency. These monastery breweries were the first large scale breweries in Belgium and as such, Abbey beers began production.
For the first time in the country precise recipes were used to produce consistent batches of beer on a large scale, the monks spent the years that followed learning new brewing techniques and refining their recipes. Leading on to the 14th century, the monastery breweries were still running and evolving, adapting to a new ingredient which was becoming more widely used within beer production... hops. The addition of hops to the Abbey beers provided yet another adaptation to the Monk’s recipes, as they started to use it in place of their previous plant mixtures.
By this time beer in Belgium was a spreading, steady business, with each monastery well established with their practices and learnings over the centuries. But the 18th century brought unexpected problems. During the french revolutions monasteries were forced to close, thereby ending their beer production and locking their unique techniques and recipes inside with them.
It’s then not until the 1920’s that Belgian beer fully makes its comeback. Following in the footsteps of English, Scottish and German breweries, Belgium began to improve their processes and recipes, creating many now loved beers such as Belgian Pale Ale, Triple and Season as well as continuing the rich tradition of the original monks lambic, although with a few changes.
These beers can still be seen today, populating the ranges of Belgian and international beers alike. Although your current selection of Abbey beers will not be so large, as now only a select few Belgian breweries are permitted to continue the production and adaptation of these longstanding recipes.
Some Of Belgium’s Oldest Breweries...
Founded as a monastery brewery in 1074, Affligem has been brewing for nearly 1000 years making them a key part of the history of Belgian beer. They still work with their founding recipes, with a few adaptations of course, to create truly original, great tasting beer with undisputable Belgian roots. To this day the monastery monks are still involved with the process of any adaptations to their long standing recipes. Currently offering a range of Blond, Double and Tripel beers for you to enjoy.
De troch - now Chapeau
Chapaue Brewery, formally known as De Troch, have their roots set somewhere between the 18th and 19th centuries. A family run business passed down from father, to daughter, to son and further Chapaue pride themselves on producing the highest quality, hand crafted beers. Their range offers an impressive 14 beer variations and can be enjoyed in their very own tap room. Still standing today, they currently serve a range of fruit Lambics and Cuvee that will leave you wanting more.
Another family run business, the Lindeman’s originally owned a farm and brewed their beer as a solution to refreshing peasants during the winter. Expanding on their brewery range, their beers soon outgrew their agricultural activities as the years went on, turning them into the brewery they are today. Still family run, with a handful of 50 additional employed family members their beers aim to embrace their Lambic tradition. Their range currently includes Lambic, Gueuze, Kriek and more, there are even a couple gins to be seen.
Founded in 1887 3 Fonteinen originally started as a blendary, combining a mix of old, traditional Lambic and new. These were sourced from other breweries, something which would come back into play during more recent years. The brewery later became a producer of traditional Lamic, producing their own fresh flavours. Despite the brewery's expansion in the late 1990’s production was slowed in 2009 by an explosion of 3000 bottles due to a faulty thermostat. While their brewery was largely out of commission, 3 Fonteinen went back to their roots, blending a mix of Lambics from other well known breweries until their new brewing installation was complete in 2013, allowing them to brew their own blends once more.
Similar to the others on our list, Rodenbach is another family established business founded in 1821, however they are much more than just beer. Rodenbach are proud of their families ties with Belgian history, with their ancestors playing a role in the independence of Belgium, but that’s a story you’ll have to read from them! Their beer is regarded as a regional product, first brewed in the West Flemish town of Roeselare. It owes its unique taste to its fermentation process, the oak casks they mature in playing a huge role in the creation of this beer. Their current range of beer has a taste for everyone, but their pride and joy are their red-brown ales.
Belgian Breweries You Can Try Today
Intrigued by the rich history and high regard of Belgian beer? Get your hands on some today!
We ship a huge variety of Belgian Brewery Beers so whether you fancy a taste of history or something a little more modern, there is a Belgian Beer for you!