Belgian Beer, Trappist Beer, Rauchbier from Bamberg, Craft Beer from the USA and Canada, and Real Ale from the UK, and other types of Speciality Beer are promoted on this, the White Beer Travels website. But what's in a name, the site's name that is? All is revealed on the Home Page! Schneider Weisse, a well-travelled, classic Wheat/White Beer, brewed in Bavaria by Schneider.  Click on the image to go to their website RochefortTrappist Beers are brewed at the Abbaye Notre Dame de St Rémy (Our Lady of St Rémy Abbey) , in Rochefort, in the Province of Namur, in Belgium. Their beers are recered by the most hardened Craft/Speciality/Specialty Beer fan
Belgian Beer (including Trappist Beer), German Beer (including Rauchbier), British Real Ale, North American Craft Beer and Speciality Beer and Specialty Beer from around the world, are all covered in this White Beer Travels website This White Beer Travels website has been in operation since March, 2002.  It promotes Speciality/Craft Beer from around the world: Belgian Beer, German Beer, Craft Beer from the USA and Canada, Real Ale from the UK, etc
 
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Belgian Beer and other great Speciality/Craft Beers, these including Real Ale from the UK and Craft Beers from the USA and Canada, are promoted on this, the White Beer Travels website.  It is a big site, so to get an outline idea of the contents, click here to go to the site's Contents page
  Würzburg, in Germany, is world-renowned for its "Franken" wines. However, White (Wheat) Beers have certainly travelled to the city.  The three different ones shown here are excellent examples. All are brewed in the city's Würzburger Hofbräu Brewery. Click on the glasses to go to the brewery's website, from which the image was pasted

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Your cursor is on a photo taken in the magnificent brew house, the 'Cathedral of Beer', in the Rochefort Trappist Monastery, in the Belgian Province of Namur. Rochefort is one of the most renowned producers of Belgian Speciality Beer: Trappist Beers. The photo was taken with John White's camera, by Chuck Cook. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

This White Beer Travels Web page provides a photographic record of a visit to Belgium's Rochefort Trappist Monastery (Abbaye de Notre-Dame de St Rémy) (www.trappistes-rochefort.com (Bookmark), www.rochefort.tk (unofficial site)) and its famous Trappist brewery, on the 28th of October, 2003. The above photo was taken, using John's camera, by Chuck Cook, a correspondent with Celebrator Beer News (www.celebrator.com). I am very grateful to Chuck for organising the visit, and of course, to Rochefort for giving the go-ahead and for being such magnificent, hospitable and open hosts. A similar photo to this, taken with Chuck's own camera, appears in the April/May 2004 edition of Celebrator Beer News, which has an article by Chuck on Rochefort. Another photo taken by Chuck at this time appears in the May 2004 edition of All About Beer (www.allaboutbeer.com), to accompany an article by Chuck on Belgium's brewing Trappist Monasteries, entitled "Heaven on Earth". A low resolution version of this truly excellent photo can be seen below.

Many regard the Rochefort Brew House as the most attractive in Belgium; I think the above photo, and the one below, provide ample proof of this. In the photo above, myself, John White, of White Beer Travels, is with Frère Pierre (Brother Pierre or Peter), the monk responsible for brewing at Rochefort. Brother Pierre proved to be an excellent guide round the brewery and the Monastery. In his hand, he has my French to English translation of the chapter on Rochefort, in Jef van den Steen's excellent June, 2003 book, Trappist, het bier en de monniken (published by Davidsfonds, ISBN 90 5826 214 6, www.davidsfonds.be) (my source being the French version: Les Trappistes. Les abbayes et leur bières ("The Trappists. The Monasteries and Their Beers"), published by Éditions Racine, ISBN 2-87386-314-5, www.racine.be). Jef van den Steen has kindly provided permission for public viewing of my translation of the Rochefort chapter of his book; click here to see it (there is an initial requirement to join the "Belgian Beer [Message] Board", a simple and worth-doing procedure). More details of this message board are to be found on the Reciprocal Links page of the site. For information on the White Beer Travels French to English Translation Service, please click here. The English-language pages of the website for the Bruxellensis Beer Festival, www.festivalbruxellensis.be, that takes place in Brussels, are an example of the French to English translation work that I have undertaken.

 

 

A visit to the Rochefort Trappist Monastery and its Brewery

The contents of this Web page are based on a visit to Rochefort, by John White, in the company of others, these being: Tim Webb (Good Beer Guide Belgium, (www.booksaboutbeer.com, White Beer Travels Web page), and co-author, with fellow Beer Hunt organiser, Chris (Podge) Pollard, of LambicLand LambikLand (click here for details)); Hoegaardier, Pierre Celis (1925-), see below, and his colleagues Es Emiel and Roland van den Borne; Yvan De Baets of the "Brasserie de la Senne" (De Zenne Brouwerij) (www.brasseriedelasenne.be) and the co-organiser of the excellent Bruxellensis Beer Festival (www.festivalbruxellensis.be, White Beer Travels Web page), who at the time of the visit was with the Brewing School, at the "Institut Meurice", in Brussels (www.meurice.heldb.be); Chuck Cook; Fred Waltman (websites on beer in Franconia (www.franconiabeerguide.com) and Los Angeles (www.labeer.com)); home brew expert, Tom Rierson; and John Allison (the Webmaster of the Boulder, Colorado-based "Hop Barley and the Alers" Homebrew Club, hopbarley.org). Unless otherwise indicated, the photos were taken on the 28th of October, 2003, by John White, of White Beer Travels.

At the start of the visit, Brother Pierre, who has been at Rochefort since 1968, emphasised that although they were brewers at Rochefort, they were first and foremost Trappist monks and that, therefore, he would like to show us the Monastery as well as just its brewery. We were all very grateful that he did; it truly is an exceptional place to visit, in its own right, as I hope you will glean from this Web page. Brother Pierre has been responsible for the brewery since 1997, the year that he took over from the famous Brother Antoine, see below, who, subsequent to his retirement from Rochefort, was involved, along with Brother Thomas from Westmalle (www.trappistwestmalle.be), in the setting up of the Trappist brewery in Achel (www.achelsekluis.org), which, after closing down in 1912, commenced brewing again on the 8th of December, 1998. The first sale to the general public was on the 5th of February, 1999. Note that although Rochefort has an influence over brewing at Achel (choice of raw materials, etc), the latter is, in fact, the senior monastically, as it was monks from Achel who founded the modern-day Trappist Monastery in Rochefort, in 1887.

Your cursor is on a photo taken outside the Rochefort Trappist monastery's church, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

As is typical on arrival at a brewery before a visit, one wanders round and weighs up the place and takes the odd photo. Here is Rochefort's Church, where the monks pray. The general public can attend services, see below. It was rebuilt in 1993. Tim Webb can be seen on the right.

 

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo of the entrance to the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

There is a bell pull by the entrance, but before we had chance to pull it, a monk opened the door and beckoned us in. It was none other than the famous Brother Antoine, who was for many years in charge of brewing at Rochefort. He is meant to be in retirement, but is often to be seen at Rochefort, where he still has an office, see below.

 

Your cursor is on a photo of Pierre Celis & John White taken inside the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Some of Chuck's group visiting Rochefort travelled from La Roche-en-Ardenne, others from Brussels and one mega name in the Belgian Beer world, Pierre Celis (1925-), travelled from his home in Hoegaarden, where he was born. In this town, in 1966, Pierre first commercially brewed the famous Hoegaarden Wit Bier, which is White Beer or Wheat Beer in English. When his De Kluis Brewery was taken over by Interbrew (now InBev), he moved to Austin, Texas, to create Celis White, which is now brewed for him by Van Steenberge (www.vansteenberge.com), in Ertvelde, near Ghent, in Belgium. In this photo above, which was taken by Chuck Cook, Pierre Celis and John are in the Monastery's Welcome House. Pierre was eighty-one years old on the 21st of March, 2006. As you can see, the stay in Austin has given Pierre a liking for wearing a bolo tie.

 

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo of Brother Pierre serving coffee and Rochefort 8 at the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Chuck Cook is on the left in this photo above, which was taken in the Monastery's Welcome House, soon after our arrival. Pierre Celis is talking to his colleague, Es Emiel. Brother Pierre is pouring a Rochefort 8o, the middle beer in the brewery's range of three top-class beers. Note that Rochefort 8o and 10o are imported into the USA by Merchant du Vin (www.merchantduvin.com), who also import Trappist beers from Orval (www.orval.be, White Beer Travels Web page) and Westmalle (www.trappistwestmalle.be and (for its bar) www.trappisten.be).

 

Your cursor is on a photo of a display cabinet at the entrance to the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium.  Click on it to see the original, high resolution version

At the entrance to the brewery, there is a display cabinet with old bottles and glasses and samples of the dry raw materials used to produce the three Rochefort Trappist Beers. The samples do not include Coriander, which previous visitors have been told was an ingredient, although it is not mentioned in Jef van den Steen's book, see above, and it was declared not to be used on this October, 2003 visit. We did not asked whether it had been phased out; the denial on this occasion, could, of course, be just a manifestation of the secrecy that is a common trait of many brewers.

 

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo giving a more detailed look at items on display at the entrance to the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it to to see the original, high resolution version

The photo above shows some of the old bottles in more detail; these are screen printed ones that are no longer used. The dish on the left contains one of the types of Malted Barley used at Rochefort, only the finest being specified by Rochefort. As can be seen, the raw material in the other dish is labelled "Amidon de Blé", which is "Wheat Starch", in English. Note that, at one time, Maize Flakes (Corn Flakes) were used instead of Wheat Starch, but the Corn Flakes were replaced when it became more difficult to guarantee that they were not produced from GM Corn.

Your cursor is on a photo of the magnificent 'Cathedral of Beer', the Brew House, of the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

As is clearly evident in the photo above the Rochefort brew house truly is special, the stained glass producing some superb effects on the magnificent copper vessels. It really is the "Cathedral of Beer" that Jef van den Steen describes it as in his Trappist book, see above. In the photo, Tim Webb can be seen taking in the wonderful scene. Note the cross on the wall, a feature in the brew house of all Trappist breweries.

 

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo featuring Brother Pierre in the magnificent 'Cathedral of Beer', the Brew House, of the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

This is the photo of Brother Pierre in the brew house, mentioned above, that was taken by Chuck Cook, to accompany his article on Belgian Trappist Breweries that appears in the May 2004 edition of All About Beer. Even in this low resolution version, one can really see the superb effect that the light coming through the windows has on the wonderful copper vessels. I took a similar photo, but Chuck's somehow captured the effect perfectly, so I had no hesitation, with Chuck's permission, in using it here, rather than my own.

 

Your cursor is on a photo of fermenters at the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

The photo above shows one of the three cylindro-conical fermenters that were installed at Rochefort, in 2002: two 40,000 litre ones and a 23,000 litre one. A Back up supply of the yeast used in the fermenters is stored at the Louvain-la-Neuve Brewing School; Rochefort's Brewery Manager, Gumer Santos, studied there and, indeed, is still involved with it. The fermenters were quite warm to the touch.

 

The same yeast is used for the second fermentation in the bottle, as in the main fermentation that takes place in the vessels shown in the photo to the left. there being no lagering (tank maturation) prior to bottling. In Jef van den Steen's book, see above, Brother Pierre is quoted as saying that the cylindro-conical fermenters were installed because they are more efficient, and the CIP (Cleaning In Place) automatic cleaning system is more effective. He points out that there is a more precise utilisation of detergents, which is more economic and has less impact on the environment. These type of fermenters have been in use at the Chimay Trappist brewery (www.chimay.com), since 1992, and one has been in use alongside conventional open fermenters, at the Orval Trappist brewery (www.orval.be, White Beer Travels Web page), since 1999, the plan being to install five more there, to also completely replace the open fermenters.

Your cursor is on a photo of John White, Brother Pierre, Brother Antoine and Pierre Celis outside the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Left to right in the photo above are: John White of White Beer Travels, Brothers Pierre and Antoine of the Rochefort Trappist Monastery; and Pierre Celis, from the famous White Beer town of Hoegaarden, in Belgium. It was taken by Chuck Cook, in front of the brewery. Brother Antoine started work in the Rochefort brewery, in 1956, after entering the monastery, in 1952. From 1976 until his retirement, in 1997, he was Rochefort's master brewer. He retired to Rochefort's Mother (founding) Trappist monastery, Achel (www.achelsekluis.org), which reintroduced brewing, in 1999, under the control of Brother Thomas, from the Westmalle Trappist monastery (www.trappistwestmalle.be), Westmalle being Achel's Mother monastery. However, in 2001, because of Brother Thomas's failing health, the Abbot at Achel, persuaded Brother Antoine to come out of retirement. In his first year, He introduced a Tripel and, with all his experience in producing dark beers at Rochefort, in May, 2002, he produced an unfiltered, 8% Bruin, in bottle. Brother Antoine has since also retired from Achel, see below.

 

 

Your cursor is on a photo featuring one of Brother Pierre's pet wild boars, in the grounds of the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Rochefort is in the Famenne area of Wallonia, the French-speaking [Southern] half of Belgium. It is next to the more well known part of Wallonia, called the Ardennes, a strikingly beautiful and surprisingly hilly part of the country. A symbol of the Ardennes is wild boar. Brother Pierre has a family of them as pets, in the grounds of the Monastery, one of which can be seen in the photo above.

 

Your cursor is on a photo taken in the Chapter House of the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

In 515, St. Benedict of Nursia is said to have formulated his famous Regula Monachorum, or Rule, although the one now generally quoted from is a revised version produced by a monk from Aniane, in the South of France, also, somewhat confusingly, a St. Benedict (Benoît) (750-821). He codified The Rule into a small missive divided up into seventy-three  chapters, annotated with the dates on which each should be read out in the Chapter House of a Monastery or cathedral. The famous chapter six, for example, is read out on the 24th of January, the 25th of May, and the 25th of September. In approximately 200 words, it gives the reasoning for the vows of silence; something which is no longer practised. Fortunately, from a beer lover's point of view, the most important part of the Rule of St. Benedict is still in force, i.e. in chapter 48, it states: "You are only really a monk when you live from the work of your hands". Hence, Trappist Monasteries around the world produce, for example, soap, cheese, children's clothes, farm produce, wine, etc. Seven (six, in Belgium, one in The Netherlands) produce Trappist Beer! The above photo was taken in the Rochefort Monastery's Chapter House. Brother Pierre has the Rule of St. Benedict in his hand, with John Allison and Chuck Cook in the background. After the Abbot reads the chapter of the day, it is discussed by the gathered monks. Further, detailed background on Trappist Monasteries and breweries and their history is to be found on the White Beer Travels page featuring Orval, which can be reached by clicking here.

 

 

Your cursor is on a photo of an interior scene in the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

It is often said that Trappist Monasteries are rather austere places. I have not found this to be the case at all; every one that I have been has been most attractive and imposing. As can be seen in the photo above, Rochefort has some marvellous stonework and superb architectural features.

 

Your cursor is on a photo  featuring an old cross at the door of the Rochefort Trappist monastery's church, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Rochefort's church within the Monastery is relatively modern, a detailed history of it being presented in Jef van den Steen's book, see above. However, the cross above the entrance to the church, featured in the photo above, dates from the 16th Century. Other impressive old features include a 17th Century sundial on a wall.

 

 

Your cursor is on a photo featuring the place setting for the Abbot of the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium

This is the meal place setting for the Abbot, the piece of wood on the top of the serviette having the legend "P Abbé" (Père Abbé, which means Father Abbot). The Abbot is elected by the monks. Note the water on the table, the monks at Rochefort only having beer with their meals on National Holidays.

 

Your cursor is on a photo  of Brother Pierre in the library of the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium

Brother Pierre is shown here in the Monastery's library, which is full of rare books and manuscripts. These are books in a number of languages, including, of course, Latin. Later additions tend to be in French, the language of the Monastery, given that it is in Wallonia. Note, however, that Flemish was the language used until 1952.

 

 

Your cursor is on a photo  featuring a computer in the library of the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

As well as books, the monks at Rochefort use the Internet to provide appropriate information, and, of course, can communicate by e-mail. The computer for this is in the library, see the photo above.

 

Your cursor is on a photo of the group of visitors in the grounds of the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

In the brewery itself, our group of visitors often got very strung out as the various pieces of equipment grabbed people's attention. This shows the group gathered together, en route to the 12.15pm service (Sext, Sexta in Latin, Sexte in French), one of a number of daily services in the Monastery's church. Everyone in the group attended this service, just prior to having lunch. The church was rebuilt in 1993, in a Neo-Roman style. It incorporates a labyrinth or maze, made from inlaid alabaster from Spain. It is the masterpiece of the new church. Note that alabaster is a form of Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate), this being an important constituent of the water used by breweries in the famous English brewing town of Burton upon Trent.

 

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo  taken during a church service at the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it to see a higher resolution photo of the alabaster maze on the floor of the nave, in front of the public pews. It was taken in October, 2003, by John White

In the above photo, taken in the Church, the monks can be seen in the background, with the congregation in the foreground. Around seventeen monks attended the service. The second and third monks on the left are Brothers Antoine and Pierre. The labyrinth is on the floor, in front of the public pews. It represents, "Le Chemin de Jérusalem" (The Road to Jerusalem); it is based on the one in Chartres Cathedral, in France. Click here, or on the above photo, to see a higher resolution photo featuring the maze, with a representation of the city of Jerusalem in the centre, a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Such mazes can also represent "The Road to Paradise [the Heavenly Jerusalem]".

 

Your cursor is on a photo taken outside the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

After the church service, we passed the brewery again, en route to the Welcome House, where Rochefort most kindly provided us with lunch. The brewery is the building behind the tree in the photo above.

 

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo of Tim  Webb and Pierre Celis having a discussion during lunch at the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Here Tim Webb and Pierre Celis are in discussion at the lunch table. As can be seen, lunch was accompanied by Rochefort 8o, i.e. guests can have a beer on a normal day of the week, but not the monks themselves.

 

Your cursor is on a photo of Brother Pierre pouring soup for the visitors as part of the three-course lunch at the Rochefort Trappist monastery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

In the photo above, Brother Pierre is serving our group the first course at lunch, a rather nice vegetable soup.

  

 

Your cursor is on a photo  of Brother Antoine in his 'former' office in the Rochefort Trappist brewery, in Belgium. Click on it, to go to the Monastery's website

Just as we were about to leave, I could not resist taking this photo of Brother Antoine, at the door of his "former" office in the brewery. Brother Antoine has, in his time, retired from the post of master brewer, st both Rochefort and Achel, see above.

The Abbey itself is not open to the general public, but one can go into its church and, indeed, take part in services within it. It is to the North of the town, signed "Abbaye de St-Rémy", to the right off the N949 National Road (rue de Ciney) (GPS at turn: 50.172059o N, 5.211141o E). In Jef van den Steen's book, see above, a walk in the vicinity of the monastery is described, this including a place in the town of Rochefort itself called the Maison Saint-Hubert (Rue de Dewoin 8, tel 084 22 30 66), this being on the Northern edge of the town, with the monastery itself being a little further North. To quote Jef: "In the Maison Saint-Hubert is the Abbey's shop, which sells monastic products: Bread (Trappist, Novice's Bread, Walnut Bread, Organic Bread, etc), Tarts (Quiche Lorraine and Fruit Tarts); and Beer from Rochefort and other Trappist breweries." Unlike the other Trappiast monasteries in Belgium, there is no bar in close proximity to the Rochefort monastery where its beers can be sampled, but of course, all of the town's bars and restaurants have them, some of the latter using the monastery's beers in dishes that they serve up, Jef giving three examples of these in his book, complete with recipes. There is a Drinks Warehouse with a good selection of beers near the monastery, "Drink Scaillet-Brisbois", Parc d'Activités 13, rue de Ciney (N949 National Road), tel 084 22 11 21. Scaillet once commissioned Magnum (1.5 litre) bottles of Rochefort 8o, which were manually filled at the monastery. There are also Christmas versions in Magnums, with holly on the label, for example, Rochefort 8o Cuvée 2006 "Christmas".

John White (1945-), Your cursor is on an image of John White's e-mail address. Click on it to send an e-mail to John, November, 2003, updated in June, 2007.

Belgian Beer, such as Trappist Beer, which is just about the world's most renowned Speciality Beer (Craft Beer), is promoted on this website, along with great beer from all over the world
Home Recces
Schneider Weisse, a well-travelled, classic Wheat/White Beer, brewed in Bavaria by Schneider.  Click on the glass to go to their website Click on this bottle of Schneider Weisse, to see that this White Beer has travelled to Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, in Spain's Canary Islands.  The photo, by Joyce White, features John White and White Beer Travels Beer Hunt regular, Dr Eric Clow, in the Mesón Andalucia, in May, 2004