Bières de Chimay
Beers from Bières de Chimay currently at the Mayor:
From the brewer —
The Cistercian monks put into their work the same care for perfection that they do into their life of prayer and study. A true art of brewing and cheese-making has developed over the course of time at the Scourmont Abbey in Chimay.
What would the Trappist beers and cheeses of Chimay be without this long monastic tradition that gave them their authentic zest? A bit of history is needed to understand the spirit that has inspired these monks for centuries…
The Trappist Abbey of Chimay
A secular tradition
The monks of Scourmont Abbey in Chimay belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, usually called Trappists. These monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict (dating back to the 6th century), taking their name “Cistercians” from the monastery of Cîteaux, founded in Burgundy in the 12th century.
The Cistercian monasteries are divided into two great Orders, of which one is historically connected to La Grande Trappe Abbey in Normandy, which gives the common name of “Trappists.”
The monks consecrate their lives to the praise of God through prayer and meditation. Taking a vow of celibacy, they live as a community under the direction of an Abbot and renounce all private possessions. At the heart of their lives they have their own work, and also endeavour by this work to procure help for the poorest.
For a long time the work of the monks was essentially the cultivation of the fields, but in the modern era this was extended to small industries, above all in the areas of food production and agriculture. And so in the northern lands, for several centuries now they have brewed beers and manufactured cheeses.
During the summer of 1850, a small group of monks established themselves on the wild plateau of Scourmont near Chimay. Around the monastery a farm, a brewery, and a cheese plant came to be.
Scourmont Abbey has developed various economic activities, permitting the growth of regional employment.
In the 12th century, the future St. Bernard protested in reaction against this power. At first a monk in the Abbey of Cîteaux (1098) and later founder of the Abbey of Clairvaux in Champagne (1115), he recalled the members of his community to a simpler life.
His new fervour gave birth to such enthusiasm that just on Belgian territory several Abbeys deemed Cistercian came to see the light of day: Orval, the Abbey of the Koksijde Dunes, Villers-la-Ville, Aulne, Cambron, Val Dieu, and more than sixty others.
La “Grande Trappe”
The Abbeys founded in the spirit of Cîteaux are called Cistercian.
But history is frequently a perpetual renewal: the sons of Cîteaux, workers and organizers, prospered so much and so well that in the 17th century Abbot de Rancé introduced into his Cistercian monastery, “La Grande Trappe” in Normandy, a new reform celebrated for its austerity.
Other monasteries were quickly attracted to his stark lifestyle, and naturally enough “The Trappe” loaned it name to the adherents of this strict observance, who became the “Trappists”.
Living as a community, the Trappists adopted a simple life and since manual labour was, as a vocation, an integral part of monastic life, the production of beer and cheese entered into this secular tradition.