Monks beat Belgian mineral empire in beer battle

Beer made by Trappists monks in Rochefort, Belgium (Facebook/Trappistes Rochefort)

The monks of Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy in Rochefort, Belgium – one of only 14 abbeys in the world producing Trappist beer – have been fighting with a quarry owner for a decade over the purity of the local spring water. Source: The Guardian.

The monks have doggedly claimed that plans by Lhoist, an international company run by one of Belgium’s richest families, to deepen its chalk quarry and redirect the Tridaine spring risked altering the unique taste of their celebrated drink.

Now, thanks to a deed dating back to 1833, it appears that makers and drinkers alike need no longer worry. A court of appeal in Liège has confirmed that while the quarry owner also owns the spring, it does not have the right to “remove or divert” the abbey’s water supply.

A spokesperson for Lhoist said the company would study the ruling before deciding whether to make a final appeal to the court of cassation, which only hears cases on procedural grounds. The company has also drawn up a plan B, to excavate in a different direction in order to prolong the life of the quarry to 2040.

The saga began a decade ago when Lhoist announced its plan to deepen the Boverie quarry in Rochefort to extend its life from 2022 to 2046. Such an operation would involve pumping underground water beneath the quarry.

The monks said this would impact on the quality of the groundwater that is a crucial ingredient of their beer.


Trouble brews between Trappist monks and Belgian mineral empire (By Daniel Boffey, The Guardian

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