St. Bernardus Brewery
In the late 19th century anti-clericalism in France forced the move of the Catsberg Abbey Community to the village of Watou in West Flanders, Belgium. The “Refuge Notre Dame de St.Bernard” was established, originally as a cheese production that financed Abbey activities. In 1934 it was decided to close the Belgian annex and return all monastic activities to France. Evarist Deconinck took over the cheese factory and built a first building at the Trappistenweg in Watou where the cheese was further developed and commercialised. After 1945, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus decided it would stop the sale of its beer.
An agreement was reached where inside the walls of the Monastery the monks would brew only beer for their own consumption but would sell to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns connected to the Monastery. Deconinck brewed and sold the Trappist Beers under license (for a period of 30 years). A new contract was agreed in 1962. In 1992, the agreement came to an end because the Trappist Monasteries (6 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands) decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery. Since 1992 the beers brewed in Watou are sold under the new brand name of ‘St Bernardus‘.
The "St Bernardus" range is considered a close match in recipe and style to the St Sixtus beers, which can be hard to obtain outside the area.
7 beers are sold under the St. Bernardus label:
- St. Bernardus Tripel (8% ABV)
- St. Bernardus Extra 4 (4.8 ABV)
- St. Bernardus Pater 6 (6.7% ABV)
- St. Bernardus Prior 8 (8% ABV)
- St. Bernardus Abt 12 (10.0% ABV)
- St. Bernardus Witbier (5.5% ABV) this beer was created in collaboration with famous beer brewer Pierre Celis
- Watou Tripel - Belgian Tripel (7.5% ABV)
- St. Bernardus Christmas Ale (10% ABV); only available during the winter
Previously sold under the St. Bernardus label:
- Grottenbier - Belgian Dark Ale (6.5% ABV); . Its name means 'cave beer', because the beer matures in a cave for two months. (Sold from 2001 until 2014, now sold under the name "Grotten Santé" by Brewery Kazematten)