Friday 18 January 2008

Notes de terroir: Augustijn

Let's turn to Augustijn and Augustijn Grand Cru Andrew shared over internet then drank in good company last Sunday.

I could tell you a whole lot about yet another beer that's been brewed by monks for centuries (actually since 1295) in Ertevelde (East Flanders province). I won't. This time, I'll tell you more about who brews these Augustijn today and where they come from. As a matter of fact, of all breweries we have discussed up to now, Van Steenberge is the first of traditional breweries.

In the late nineteenth century, a farmer called Jean-Baptiste De Bruin fed up of hard labour and looking at establishing more profitable business opened a brewery near Ertevelde. Before the money started pouring in, and before the beer got any good, the old fellow passed away. Unfortunately, given the old age, so did his spouse who'd stated in her will that the brewery should go to her talented nephew Jozef Schelfaut. Hopefully this one knew how to brew. Jozef got relatively quickly famous all the way to Ghent.

Jozef got famous but his beer never got as good as the attention it drew. Brewing is a thing that requires guts, but also a good scientific understanding. Gifted with the former, the poor Jozef lacked the latter in order to reach consistency in his brewing habits. Jozef understood it later in his life and offered his daughter to a certain Paul. Paul was a graduated chemist and agronomist, so hopefully he knew a thing or two about the fermentation process. When the old Jozef died, Paul Van Steenberge inherited the brewery.

Paul changed the name of the brewery to Bios, and truly gave life to it when he launched the Vlaamse Bourgogne, then the Sparta Pils. His son Jozef, a lawyer, would inherit the business and launch the Bornem Dubbel and the Bornem Tripel. It is only in the mid eighties that the Bios - Van Steenberge brewery would attract the attention of its neighbours, the Augustinian monks.

Before long, the deal was sealed, and after a century of operations, the descendants of Jean-Baptiste De Bruin signed with the monks from Ertevelde an exclusive licence to brew the Augustijn. This was in 1982. Worldwide fame and consistent investment would follow.

Now, would you be willing to drop a few pennies to a small scale operation and make it grow, we have something for you. In spite of our love for traditional beverages, our Competing Athlete and myself warmly recommend you to give according to your means to Ovarian Cancer Action using our purpose built secure and certified online donations page. We have collected 70 pounds so far.

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