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Local products

Rochefort Trappist beer 

CURVATA, RESURGO

Short history of the abbey...

Following an exchange of goods with the Benedictine abbey of Saint Hubert, the lord of Rochefort, Gilles de Walcourt, acquired the Saint Remy grounds in 1230.

The lord donated this land to a community of women, probably “pious women”, who – at the time – tended to join their forces. The monastery was built one and a half kilometres downstream from Falen under the name Secours-Notre-Dame.

They incorporated the Cistercian order and the nuns then occupied the grounds for over two centuries. But the climate was so rigorous and the soil so inhospitable that they decided to move to Felipré, near Givet in 1464. As time goes by, the male community that settled there instead, tended to refer to the monastery as ‘Saint Remy’.

Over the years, the newcomers consolidated the domain and the properties handed down by the nuns. Yet history did not favour them, with the Calvinists devastating the abbey in 1568 and, the following century, the terrible misery brought about by the plague epidemic, but especially the return in force of war and banditry.

The signs heralding the overthrow of the Ancien Régime became more and more alarming and the monks protected themselves by obtaining their secularisation via a papal bull. The Cistercians became ordinary canons, until 1791 when the order is dispersed by the French Revolution. In 1805, the domain was no longer in the hands of the clergy.

The republican commissioner Louis-Joseph Poncelet demolished the church and part of the buildings, which he used as material for new buildings in Rochefort.

The property passed through the hands of three successive owners before being purchased in 1887 by Abbey Victor Seny, who intended to re-establish it as a religious community.

Beer!

It’s the monks of the Cistercian community of Achel, in Limburg, who had been brewers for 50 years, who will bring their know-how to the brewery.
The beer production remains small scale until 1952, when large investments allow not only the quality of the beer to be improved, but also an increased production.

From then on, brewing replaced agriculture as the main activity of the abbey and became its main source of income. In the 1970’s, the brewery’s equipment was entirely renewed and modernised.

On the evening of December 29, 2010, a fire broke out, caused by a deficiency in the electrical generators installed to compensate for the electrical problems due to abundant snowfall during that month. The fire ravaged four main buildings, destroying 1200 m2 of roofs, but both the library and the brewery were spared.

Trappist beers brewed in the abbey:

You can sample three distinctive, yet equally delicious trappist beers:

  • The number ten Trappist beer is intense brown, with a compact head and a distinctive fruity taste. It has a fig aroma and is unctuous in the mouth (alcohol: 12 %).
  • The number eight Trappist beer is ochre-coloured, has a wide palette of aromas, and a drier, fruitier taste (alcohol: 9.5 %).
  • The number six Trappist beer has a spicy and earthy aroma, with an intense fruity taste (alcohol: 7,5 %). The number six is only brewed occasionally.
     

Did you know that?
 

Rochefort 10 has the highest alcohol content of the 11 Trappist beers in the world (six of which are Belgian): Chimay, , Orval, Westmalle, Westvleteren, , Engelszell (Austria), Spencer (USA), Zundert and La Trappe (the Netherlands), and Tre Fontane (Italy).


Its specificity is first and foremost the quality of the abbey’s spring water and the special yeast, cultivated within the monastery. Their actual alcohol content does not match these numbers (6, 8, and 10), which date from when an older unit for measuring of alcohol content was used.

But what does the Trappist label really entail?
 

A Trappist, or Trappist beer, is a beer brewed in an abbey by or under the direct supervision of Trappist monks. These Trappist beers are generally produced using “high” fermentation (the yeast rises to the surface of the beer, contrary to what happens with “low” fermentation, where the yeast sinks) and must be brewed respecting the criteria defined by the International Trappist Association if they wish to display this private organisation’s official Authentic Trappist Product logo. The criteria for obtaining this designation are:
 

  • only products made on the site or near the monastery can display the official ATP logo;
  • the product must be made by the monks, or under their supervision;
  • the bulk of profits must be used for charities with a “social” or non-lucrative nature.
     

Certain Trappist-inspired beers that do not meet these criteria were commercialised with this appellation up until 1962, when a ruling was passed by the Ghent Court, forbidding them to use the label. Trappist-type beers, such as Leffe or Grimbergen, are considered abbey beers.

The Tridaine spring


This well dates from 1892. It was once a common well where the inhabitants came to gather water when they had no private wells. Its position near the abbey, 211 metres above the town, allows the water distribution to work simply using gravity, without the use of a pump or any motor. This precious spring not only provides the town with drinking water but also for brewing the “Trappist” beer, whose medicinal virtues no longer need to be proven.

Practical information:

  • When you arrive at the Saint Remy abbey, please park in the free parking lot (please do not use the one with the gate).
  • The abbey and the quarry are NOT OPEN to visitors! You can, however attend mass in the abbey church.
  • Allthough the brewery is closed to visitors,  you can taste Trappist beer all around town. You will also find other excellent local beers, such as Malagne, Blonde de Han, the beers from the new brewery in Eprave (Cambrée, Chinette, Rouge-Croix,...) but also delicious regional dishes made with Trappist or other beer, not to mention the different varieties of Rochefort cheese, Grusalle liqueur, etc.
     

Religious services


As we mentioned earlier, access to the abbey and the quarry is strictly forbidden, although you are allowed to attend mass in the church.
The services are held at the following times:

  • Sundays and bank holidays: Eucharist at 11 AM
  • Weekdays: Eucharist at 7 AM
  • Daily: Vespers at 5:15 PM

 

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy

Rue de l'Abbaye, 8
5580 - Rochefort [Rochefort]

 Contact :
- [Rochefort]
T. +32(0)84/22.01.47
F. +32(0)84/22.06.86
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Rochefort Trappist beer







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