Trappist monks fight to protect beer

The monks of the Belgian abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy are fighting plans by a local quarry to tap into deeper water reserves which, they say, will damage the taste of their beer.

The dispute between the community and the Lhoist-Berghmans family (one of the richest in Belgium) has been on-going for the last 10 years.

The Lhoist-Bergmans own a nearby lime quarry and hope that by drilling down 60 metres to new water sources they can extend the life of the quarry – which employs about 150 local people – from 2022 through to 2045.

As the Guardian reported, however, in the process this would disrupt the existing groundwater table (known as the Tridaine) from which the town draws its drinking water and the abbey draws water for use in its brewing.

The back and forth has continued steadily for the past decade but last December the Walloon regional administration granted the Lhoist company the right to see if pure waters for the town and monks can be found deeper still and therefore allow its own drilling to the Tridaine to commence.

This has led the monks to claim that the official who granted the request showed bias and they are seeking to have him removed from the case while an appeal to the EU to stop the pumping has been filed at courts in the city of Namur.

The monks say that water sourced from deeper aquifers will not be potable or suitable for brewing.

The Lhoist company meanwhile says the monks agreed to testing back in 2008 but then changed their minds and have been intractable ever since.

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