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Medieval Manuscripts Inspire Micro-Brew

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

After discovering texts that describe 12th-century brewing techniques, the monks at a Belgian abbey decide to re-open their micro-brewery.

Belgium’s Grimbergen Abbey has decided to start brewing beer again, after a 250-year hiatus. This time, however, the monks are gathering inspiration from the recipes found in a number of 12-century tomes currently housed in the abbey’s archives.

The monks have brewed beers since the abbey opened its doors in 1128. However, after the Abbey and its brewery were destroyed during the French Revolution, the monks rebuilt the monastic buildings but not the brewery. The monastery’s ancient brewing recipes soon became lost to the mists of time, until the monks discovered that a number of medieval manuscripts had been courageously smuggled out of the Abbey prior to its attack.

When the mostly Latin and old Dutch texts were re-discovered, the Abbey hired experts to decipher the ancient text, which revealed “the hops used, the types of barrels and bottles, and even a list of the actual beers produced centuries ago,” according to Subprior Karel Stautemas (shown above).

Since the 1950s, the Abbey has licensed the Grimbergen name to commercial brewing companies Carlsberg and Heineken. But after finding the manuscripts, the monks decided to tackle the production themselves (with help and training from the Carlsberg team), utilizing the same yeast used for the Grimbergen beers. However, to deepen the flavors, the small batches will be aged in barrels and will utilize local hops, only organic ingredients, and other elements and brewing techniques uncovered in the manuscripts.

The new brewery will open in 2020 and will include a bar and restaurant. For more info, visit


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