Eco-friendly Beer Brewed By Monks? Bottoms Up!
Beer probably isn’t the first thing you’d associate with a monastery, but for the fellows at Chimay, beer and cheese making is a spiritual labor of love. The whole enterprise began in 1862, when the Trappist monks of Chimay, Belgium, wanted to create jobs for their community and earn some needed funds to run the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont. Their solution? Beer! The monks shifted their focus from farming to brewing. Once the brewery was up and running, they handed its administration over to local businesses to bolster the town’s economy.
As you might expect from monks, the Trappists adhere to the old adage, “waste not, want not.” Water for the beer is drawn from wells on abbey grounds. Grain husks leftover from brewing are donated to Chimay dairy farms to feed the cattle. Extra yeast produced in the fermenting process is resold as yeast tablets. And waste water from the brewery is purified right there at the Chimay purification plant and reused in the area.
The rigorous brewing process results in three ales: Chimay Triple, Chimay Red, and Chimay Blue. Blue is the strongest at 9% alc. vol., while Red and Triple have slightly fruity aromas and flavors. Chimay also offers four locally-made cheeses.
Chimay offers tours of the abbey and brewery year-round by reservation. But to get the full Belgian countryside experience, book a room at the Poteaupré Inn. The abbey transformed this quaint former school over 40 years ago. It now houses a restaurant
and seven guest rooms that are staffed and run by locals, that start at US $95 per night. The chefs at Poteaupré prepare an array of regional dishes that change with the seasons, and tours of the town and surrounding areas can be booked through the inn. And to get your tastebuds ready, check out their website, which offers tasting tips and a list of “First Chimay Memories” from people all over the world who wrote in about their first sips. We think it’s time for a toast.
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Photos: thescatteredimage via IT’s Flickr pool
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