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Medieval beer heads to Scotland

A forgotten Belgian beer, recreated using ingredients and techniques from hundreds of years ago, has been introduced to Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland ahead of the rest of the world.

Heverlee was redeveloped following research at Belgium’s largest abbey by Joris Brams, a brewer born in Leuven. The Abbey of the order of Premontre, which is the original home of Heverlee, was established in 1129, more than 237 years before the Artois name emerged. When forced to close its production as brewing became commercial, part of the Abbey was demolished and the beer forgotten.

Brams said: “This has been a very personal project of mine and one that I feel tremendously passionate about. For many years, I wanted to create a beer that reflected the reasons why Belgium became world-famous for beer, using a traditional approach and techniques. It was a happy accident that I’ve been able to do so in a place I’ve known all my life.”

Brams grew up around two miles from the Abbey and after speaking to the monks was granted access to their library. There he learned of the brewery and that the monks had developed a light, fresh-tasting lager at a time when other Abbeys focused on heavier, darker ales.

He added: “In Medieval Europe, these monks really forged the way with beer but then their knowledge and craft was almost wiped out as brewing became commercial. The more I read, the more I discovered how talented, how important the monks were, particularly from this Abbey. I knew I’d found something special.

“Heverlee is an original rediscovered, driven by a desire to see quality Belgian beer re-emerge and I’m very proud of the finished result.”

The Abbey has been big news in Belgium over recent months, having secured a 45 million euro investment to refurbishment the site and bring it back to its former glory. There are plans to extend Heverlee to other European countries and then around the world over the coming months.

“Although I live and work in Belgium, I know Scotland well. It’s a country I’ve got a great deal of affection for and have spent much of my brewing career in. But I always wondered when I was there, why can’t I get a good, genuine Belgian pint? It’s received a great reaction so far and it’s been selling well, so we’re excited about what lies ahead for Heverlee.”

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