Forgotten Belgian beer launched in Scotland and NI

HeverleeA forgotten Belgian lager, recreated using ingredients and techniques from centuries ago, has been introduced exclusively to the on-trade in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Heverlee was redeveloped by brewer Joris Brams who used old descriptions of the beer once brewed at the abbey of the order of Prémontré in Heverlee, near Leuven, in central Belgium.

Joris, who grew up in Leuven just two miles away from the abbey, learned about the brewery and its beer from research in the abbey’s library.

He found out that, in the Middle Ages, the monks had been pioneers in developing a light, fresh-tasting lager at a time when other abbeys focused on heavier, darker ales.

The abbey, which was established in 1129, made beer until the late 16th century when it was forced to cease production as brewing became a commercial enterprise.

Working with the monks and a local brewer, Joris created the smooth Heverlee, using barley, hops and a much slower, more traditional brewing process than the bigger Belgian brands to restore original Pils bitterness to its taste.

It has an ABV of 4.8% and is available only on draught, supported by branded glassware and training for bar staff in the ritual of pouring and serving the beer.

Not yet available in Belgium, it was launched initially in Scotland, where Joris has lived and worked, and in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Available through wholesalers, it has gained listings with independent bars and pubs across Scotland including leading multiple operators such as G1 Group, Maclay Inns and Big Red Teapot. Click here for a list of stockists.

There are plans to extend Heverlee to other European and world territories over the coming months, including England and Wales in 2014.

“Although I live and work in Belgium, I know Scotland well,” Joris explains. “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.”

He added: “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.

“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, which is the biggest in Belgium, has secured a €45million investment to refurbishment the site and bring it back to its former glory.

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