Abdij der Trappisten van Westmalle - Westmalle Trappist
According to Saint Benedict, monks have to be responsible for their own livelihood. And according to an old monks’ tradition, the money they saved is intended for people in need. In order to be able to do that, the Trappists have pursued traditional crafts and industrial activities for a long time. In the Westmalle Abbey there is a farm, a cheese making area and - undoubtedly the most well-known - a beer brewery. In brief, the life of the monks is also a life of work. The monks are members of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance.
In 1836 the monastery became a Trappist abbey. Since then the monks have been able to drink the popular beverage of the region with their meals. And in Flanders that is... beer.
Thus in the same year abbot Martinus Dom started the construction of a small brewery. In December 1836 they served their first brew of Westmalle Trappist beer at lunch.
For many years the abbey only brewed for its own needs. Only as of 1856 occasionally the monks sold some beer at the gate. Demand increased year by year, until the brewery had to expand in 1865 and 1897.
In 1921, the monks decided to sell their beer to the beer trade, whereby sales increased further. In the early ‘30s, a new brewing hall, yeast room and workshop came into use. Some buildings of the current brewery date from this period.
The bottling plant was modernized in 1956, and in 1968 the abbey obtained its own water treatment plant, long before there was any legal requirement for it. In 1991, they invested in a computer-controlled brewing hall. If it improves the quality, then they are happy to use new technologies.
Recent examples of the drive towards better quality are the new bottling plant that came into use in 2000, and the just completed maturing cellar. In that underground store the Westmalle Trappist ferments a second time in almost ideal conditions. With both investments, special attention was also paid to the working conditions and respect for the environment.
For almost 170 years, the brewery has only used pure ingredients: water, malt, hops, sugar and yeast. They always have made 100% natural beer and with each investment, they aim for a better quality of the Westmalle Trappist beer. That is the leitmotiv through the history of the brewery.