Westvleteren in Beijing

Trappist Beer

In Beijing there is plenty of Trappist beer but finding Westvleteren in Beijing was a surprise.
Westvleteren is one of the recognized Trappist beers. See here the introduction by Listverse.

In the silent halls of a 17th-century Trappist monastery, something dark is brewing. The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly referred to as the Trappists, is a monastic order that focuses on the work of one’s own hands as the true path to salvation. Although they don’t take an official vow of silence, Trappist monks avoid speaking unless absolutely necessary, and any speech that mocks or puts down someone else is a sin. All in all, they’re not bad fellows.
But regardless of any religious affiliation, Trappist monks brew some of the meanest beers in the world. There are only 10 authentic Trappist breweries in the world, and six of those are in Belgium. Westvleteren XII, a Trappist beer brewed not far from the city of Ypres, is often called the best beer in the world. Everything the Trappists make from their beer goes back into their abbeys in accordance with their vow of poverty.

According to another source there are now officially 11:
6 in Belgium, 2 in The Netherlands, 1 in Austria, 1 in USA and 1 in France:

  1. Achel, of Hamont Achel
  2. Chimay
  3. Engelszell – Austria
  4. La Trappe – The Netherlands
  5. Orval
  6. Rochefort
  7. Spencer – USA
  8. Westmalle
  9. Zundert – The Netherlands
  10. Westvleteren
  11. Mont de Cats – France (recognized in 2011)

More about Trappist and Westvleteren

Read this: “Ale and hearty: Aging Trappist monks brew on”  by Philip Blenkinsop
A gold standard for beer connoisseurs, the Trappist ale in Westmalle Abbey streams through state-of-the-art equipment with not a monk in sight.
The full article:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belgium-beer-trappists/ale-and-hearty-aging-trappist-monks-brew-on-idUSTRE59J01L20091020

From Wikipedia:
Westvleteren (Brouwerij Westvleteren) is a brewery founded in 1838 at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. The brewery’s three beers have acquired an international reputation for taste and quality, Westvleteren 12 being considered by some to be the best beer in the world. The beers are not brewed to normal commercial demands but are sold in small quantities weekly from the doors of the monastery itself to individual buyers on an advance-order basis. Read the full story:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westvleteren_Brewery

20 February 2013 – Vleteren Journal
“Cult Beer Alters Town, but Not the Monks Who Make It”, by John Tagliabue NYT:
VLETEREN, Belgium — On the face of it, this quaint Belgian town has few attractions — a charming brick parish church; a tall wooden windmill at the town’s main intersection. But it has the world’s best beer. In the past few years, several Web sites that ask beer drinkers to rate their favorite brews have accorded that honor to a strong, dark local brew known as Westvleteren 12. In fact, the enthusiastic American Web site RateBeer.com gave the beer the honor two years in a row, dethroning a Swedish dark beer, Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter.
Read all: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/world/europe/cult-beer-westvleteren-12-gives-belgian-town-a-lift.html

And about Chimay:
15 January 2003 – Chimay Journal; “Monks’ Brew Showers Blessings on Belgian Town” by John Tagliabue NYT.
With his billowing white beard and black and white hooded habit, Dom Armand Veilleux, a Canadian-born monk in his mid-60’s, more resembles a figure from Umberto Eco’s novel of monastic mystery, ”The Name of the Rose,” than your average brewery executive.
Yet just across a snow-dusted garden from the room where he receives visitors, a microbrewery throbs, its six huge stainless steel vats fermenting more than 13,000 gallons of beer a day.
Only five years ago, the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Scourmont, where Dom Armand has been abbot for almost five years, turned out 15 percent less. But these days, Belgian Trappist beers — heavy brews, often dark and with as much as 9 percent alcohol — are surging in popularity, spreading blessings on the hilly farmland around Chimay, pop. 10,000, traditionally one of the poorer Belgian lands that snuggle against the French border.
Read the full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/15/world/chimay-journal-monks-brew-showers-blessings-on-belgian-town.html

Westvleteren in Beijing

I was most surprised to find the beer online: RMB129. Then one evening I was in “Bottleshop”, on Xindong Street, close to Jiamei Dental, a small shop and bar with an impressive choice of top beers. There it was sold for RMB200.
I decided to share my precious Trappist with Renaat Morel who knows all the little secrets of the brewing industry in Belgium.

According to Renaat Westvleteren is pretty close to St. Bernardus Abt 12. I won’t dare to judge.
I had never tasted the beer before as it it basically not available in Belgium, except if you queue up at the Abbey..

Beers with Waterloo history

Napoleon and Waterloo

A bit more about two beers with Waterloo history
Morel’s Restaurant in Beijing is the only place where you can find the special beer “Cuvée Napoleon”. Earlier the restaurant had also the Waterloo beer.

See here some pics related to the two beers, they are also listed in the Belgian beer page.
See below the descriptions as well as some historical background. I left the text in French as I found it in a couple of sources. I cannot confirm all the “historical” stories are correct.
See more in English here:
http://waterloo-beer.com/en/history
and
http://fermedemontsaintjean.be/en/#

Cuvée Napoleon

 “Cuvée Napoleon 1er”, Waterloo 1815” – Belgian Double Dark Beer – Alc. 14%
Delicious Napoleon Beer not only tastes good, it also has a history.
The beer was brewed at a small farm called Le Caillou at Ligny, near Waterloo, where the French general Napoleon was defeated by the British in 1815.
In those years, beer was brewed in winter on large farms, to be consumed the next summer when the farmers went to work on their fields. Water was undrinkable due to pollution in the countryside in Belgium and the Netherlands, while in France they drank wine.
It was called “tafelbier” (table beer) in Dutch and had an alohol content of between 1 and 3%. The farm owner also brewed beer for his own consumption, which was better and had a higher alcohol content.

At the time of the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon once visited a farm at Hougoumont to stay the night and the farm owner let Napoleon taste his beer. He liked it so much he gave his name to the beer. After that visit, the beer for Emperor Napoleon was brewed on his birthday, August 15.
When Jacques, the farm owner, told a friend Napoleon liked his beer, he was advised to start brewing the beer in his small brewery. That’s what Jacques did, as brewing was in his blood as a descendent of a family of brewers. The beer’s recipe was preserved by the family
A special brew was made on the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s Battle of Waterloo, which took place on June 18, 1815.

“La Bataille de Hougoumont”

Hougoumont — ou Goumont — est le nom d’un lieu-dit situé sur le territoire de la commune de Braine-l’Alleud, dans la province du Brabant wallon en Belgique (Arrondissement de Nivelles).
The farm of Hougoumont i was held by the Duke of Wellington.
Hougoumont a joué un rôle central dans la bataille de Waterloo dans laquelle les forces alliées des armées commandées par le duc de Wellington (composée de Britanniques, d’Allemands) et celle des Prussiens, commandée par le maréchal Blücher, étaient opposées à l’armée française dite Armée du Nord emmenée par l’empereur Napoléon Ier.
La Ferme du Caillou se situe au hameau du Caillou à Vieux-Genappe, section de la commune belge de Genappe dans la province du Brabant wallon.
Après sa victoire contre les Prussiens lors de la bataille de Ligny le 16 juin 1815, Napoléon Ier installa son dernier Quartier Général à la ferme du Caillou le 17 juin. Il y passa la nuit et y établit ses plans de bataille pour la bataille de Waterloo le matin du 18 juin 1815. La ferme fut ravagée par un incendie le matin du 18 juin 1815.

Histoire La Bière Waterloo

Aujourd’hui, la Waterloo fait partie de la prestigieuse Finest Beer Selection de John Martin, qui entend ainsi préserver le fleuron brassicole du Brabant, et valoriser tout l’art des microbrasseries régionales. Il s’agit là d’une véritable reconnaissance pour cette bière originale et artisanale de qualité. C’est également la garantie de sa pérennité et de sa notoriété grandissante auprès des amateurs de bières fines et exclusives.

Histoire La ferme de Mont-Saint-Jean

La bière Waterloo est brassée avec passion à la ferme de Mont-Saint-Jean, située sur le champ de bataille de Waterloo. La notoriété de ce site historique, sis à cheval sur Waterloo, Plancenoit et Braine-l’Alleud, remonte bien au-delà des combats du 18 juin 1815.
D’importantes rénovations furent entreprises en 1778. Après la Révolution française, la ferme fut déclarée bien national, pour ensuite être acquise par un propriétaire privé, Grégoire Boucquéau, en 1815. En 1846, la ferme fut finalement vendue à une famille de fermiers originaire des Flandres, les Claus.
La ferme joua un rôle clef durant la Bataille de Waterloo. En effet, le Duc de Wellington décida d’y établir son hôpital de campagne lors du fameux « Bal de la Duchesse de Richmond», organisé le 15 juin 1815 à Bruxelles.
Les jours qui suivirent, environ 6.000 soldats blessés y furent soignés, sous le contrôle du Deputy Inspector Gunning du Royal Army Medical Corps, et de son équipe, d’où l’appellation Hôpital des Anglais ou Ambulance Britannique.
Les soldats britanniques ne furent pas les seuls à être soignés à Mont-Saint-Jean. Durant quatre jours, les médecins et chirurgiens prirent soin sans relâche des nombreux blessés. La scène fut d’une rare violence et selon les témoignages, « les membres amputés s’entassaient aux quatre coins de la cour de la ferme ». Le nombre de victimes s’éleva à 63.000 à la suite des 4 batailles ayant eu lieu entre le 15 et le 18 juin 1815.
Le Prince Guillaume d’Orange-Nassau y fut soigné pour une blessure à l’épaule, avant d’être transféré à Bruxelles. En 1826, son père, le roi Guillaume 1er des Pays-Bas érigea le site de la Butte du Lion en son honneur, juste en face de la ferme. Les aides de camp de Wellington, les colonels Delancey et Gordon, ainsi que son neveu et secrétaire, Lord FitzRoy Somerset, y furent également soignés.
À cette époque, l’eau contenait beaucoup de bactéries. Pour éviter les contaminations, il était plus prudent de boire de la bière. Les brasseries locales situées aux alentours approvisionnèrent les soldats en bière de haute fermentation, comme celles connues aujourd’hui sous le nom de Waterloo, en l’honneur du Prince de Waterloo, titre officiel du Duc de Wellington.
Napoléon donna lui-même le nom bataille de Mont-Saint-Jean à la bataille de Waterloo, prouvant ainsi l’importance du site de Mont-Saint-Jean.
Située à une vingtaine de kilomètres de Bruxelles, la ville de Waterloo est célèbre dans le monde entier pour avoir été le terrain d’une des plus célèbres batailles napoléoniennes: la bataille de Waterloo.
Cette bataille légendaire s’est déroulée le 18 juin 1815 et s’est terminée par la victoire décisive de deux armées : celle des alliés, commandée par le Duc de Wellington (composée de Britanniques, d’Allemands et de Néerlandais) et celle des Prussiens ; toutes deux opposées à l’armée française emmenée par l’Empereur Napoléon 1er.
Les combats n’eurent pas tout à fait lieu à Waterloo mais un peu plus au sud, sur le territoire des communes actuelles de Lasne, Braine-l’Alleud et de Genappe. En France, la bataille a souvent été appelée « bataille de Mont-Saint-Jean », lieu plus précis de l’engagement effectif.
© La bière Waterloo et la Ferme de Mont-Saint-Jean sont des marques déposées et exploitées par la société John Martin s.a, rue du Cerf 191, 1332 Genval, Belgique.

Belgium the Land of Beer

Belgian beer in Beijing

If Belgium is the land of beer, I have been surprised to find so many of them in Beijing.
So I started a Page of Belgian beer!
The page will be updated when appropriate and I will post more stories about Belgian beer.
See here part of a long introduction of Belgian beer culture, from LISTVERSE.COM.
As said in my page, opinions differ on how many beers and how many breweries we really have in Belgium. The following is one of the estimates.
Interesting however is the part on “World’s Largest Beer Menu: “The current holder of the Guinness World Record for most available beers on the menu is Delirium Cafe, located in Belgium’s capital city of Brussels. They have 3,162 beers available on their shelves.” I visited that Café and it is a great place indeed.

Two famous beer temples in Brussels

During my stay in Brussels in September 2017 I finally made a visit to two of the (many) famous beer temples in the center.

See here the pics of Delirium Café and A La Mort Subite.

Belgians are crazy about beer

Young Belgians are weaned on beer with soda, and old Belgians drink it with breakfast. Even the monks in Belgium make beer. The country has been in the brewing tradition since the 1100s—before it even was a country—and time has only served to open the doors for more and better ways to make the inebriating honey of the gods. We visited a few places in Belgium where beer is nigh religion and tasted for ourselves the holy fervor that has stood to make this country a bastion of alcoholic enlightenment. In the process, we’ve come to an inescapable conclusion: These guys are crazy about beer, and we love it.

Belgium has more individual styles of beer per capita than any other country in the world. With a population barely scraping past 11 million, they produced a whopping 1,132 distinct types of beer in 2011. Fast-forward to 2013 and that number is a mind-blowing 3,043 beers that were brewed among all 10 provinces of Belgium. The Flemish Brabant, a province in the north of Belgium, makes 457 beers on its own.

How it started

The region’s interest in beer began when the Catholic Church sanctioned the use of abbeys to brew and distribute beer to raise money for upkeep near the end of the 10th century. Over the years, the nuns in the abbeys began pioneering new ways to brew, strengthening the diversity that was available to the locals in brewing villages. At the turn of the 20th century, there were over 3,000 breweries in Belgium, but the two World Wars had a devastating effect on the Belgian economy that reached deep into the brewing industry. Now, there are only about 180 breweries in Belgium.

More details

See: “10 Ways Belgium Will Change The Way You Drink Beer” by Andrew Handley, October 27, 2014.

10 Ways Belgium Will Change The Way You Drink Beer

See the other sections for more:

  • Spontaneous Fermentation (Lambic)
  • Beer Cocktails
  • The Longest Bar In The World
  • The Bruges Beer Pipeline
  • The Farm Brewery
  • Trappist Beer
  • World’s Largest Beer Menu
  • Unholy Consumption
  • A Glass For Every Beer