L’abbaye de Brogne

Authentic organic Abbey beer

organic Brogne beer tasting

Brogne Abbey was founded before the year 1000 and the first mention of the existence of a brewery dates back to 986. 

For centuries, the abbey was ravaged by looting and violence generated by war. The original recipes of the beers produced at that time were completely destroyed. 

The beer “Abbaye de Brogne” was launched in 1982 by the Desfosses Brewery, before being taken over by Affligem and Lefèbvre. Since 2014, this beer is brewed again in the abbey grounds, in a completely new micro-brewery. It is now completely organic and produced under the supervision of Bruno Deghorain (known for his work at Brasserie « La Binchoise »). 

Beer is obtained by fermenting cereals and flavored with various plants; it has been known since ancient times and, before the arrival of the Romans in our regions, beer was already flowing. 

However, the drink we enjoy today, which is essentially obtained from barley and hops, is without doubt the invention of the Benedictine monks, an order founded in the 6th century by Benedict of Nursia. Indeed, the wine allowed by the Rule of Saint Benedict was quickly replaced in the regions with little or no wine production by beer, a much healthier drink than water, which was very polluted in the Middle Ages. 

The first mention of a monastery brewery can be found in the plan of St. Gallen, a project of an ideal abbey, dating from about 800. 

In the confirmation deed of 986 by Otto III, the future German emperor, of the donation of the church and the court of Mettet with all its dependencies to the abbey of Brogne, there is explicit reference to the mill and the brewery. From the 10th century on, beer was brewed on the estate and most likely in the abbey itself. 

Unfortunately, the archives of the abbey have been badly damaged over the years and are very incomplete. A few account books bear witness to local production. Thus, in 1526, Martin Badri pays an annuity for the rent of the banal brewery located near the mill’s reach. Further on, Renequin le cuvelier is mentioned. An account of 1648 tells us that a certain Ambroise is “brewer of the house and abbey of Saint-Gérard”. Far more interesting, in 1672, the receiver of the abbey intervened in the repair of “the vat, boiler, furnace, etc.” and paid for the supply of 169 pounds of hops. Also appear from 1672 to 1675, the wages of Pierre d’Oison, Master valet and brewer. To this should be added the receipts of cereals from the estate, among which we find the escourgeon or winter barley. 

Similar mentions appear throughout the 18th century. In 1726, a book of accounts of the parish priest of the time also tells us that he brewed his own beer at the abbey from grains received in payment of the rents due to him and from hops that he bought. Finally, in his description of the abbey in 1710, Dom Eugène Massart, parish priest and monk of Saint-Gérard, mentions the presence of an “underground brewery” which he locates in what we call today the Great Crypt. He also mentions the “hop field of the monks” located to the west of the gardens. 

The brewing of beer in Brogne is as old as the abbey of Brogne itself and, if the Revolution had not put an end to it, the tradition would have been perpetuated until our days.