Tag Archives: Priory

#35 – Corsendonk Pater

#35 - Corsendonk Pater

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

I have already been impressed with the Corsendonk Agnus Tripel (#4), and now it was time for the dark Pater. We already know from the earlier drink about the history of the Priory in Turnhout, but Corsendonk beers are also something of a rarity in the Belgian pantheon in that they are brewed to comply with the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ – the strict German beer code which allows only barley, hops, water and yeast to be used in the construction of the beer. The original ‘Reinheitsgebot’ – meaning ‘law of purity’ originated in Ingolstadt in Bavaria in 1516, although had been applied previously in the late 1400s. The law has since been repealed, although only in 1987 but many brewers in Germany still claim to adhere strictly to it.

The original ruling only allowed barley, hops and water, but following the introduction of yeast in the 1800s, this was added. There were three main reasons for the ruling. Firstly to prevent inferior methods of preserving a beer, as hops were much more effective than stinging nettles, henbane and in some cases, soot! The second was that by restricting brewers to barley, it would prevent price wars with bakers over wheat and rye and thus ensure a higher quality of affordable bread for the populace. The final reason was largely financial with part of the rule decreeing that the beer could never be sold above a set price – originally 1 to 2 Pfennigs.

Considering the proliferation of high quality wheat beers now in Bavarian Germany, it is likely that the law perhaps raised the stakes eventually for beer in the region. Corsendonk of course only follow ‘Reinheitsgebot’ for marketing purposes, but in a world that is becoming more eager to pollute with sugars and syrups this is something of a healthy diversion.

Struggling back from illness this beer had been sitting waiting. The appearance was solid and dark, and the smell malty and quite potent. Although the head thinned rapidly, the effervescent brown brew was malty and hoppy with some treacle – a little like the Het Kapittel Pater (#2) but slightly more distinguished and effervescent. Wanted perhaps just a little more mystery – although not bad with the limited ingredients.


Filed under 7, Abbey Beer, Abbey Dubbel, Du Bocq

#4 – Corsendonk Agnus Tripel

#4 - Corsendonk Agnus Tripel

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

Corsendonk is the name of a priory in Oud-Turnhout which was established way back in 1398, and which had a rich history of brewing beer. It was eventually shut in 1784 as was the common trend in Europe at the time, as secular powers came up against those of the church. The Priory has since been restored and reformed, however the beers have long been made elsewhere – under the care of the Keersmaeker family but now in the modern brewing facilities at Du Bocq in the Namur countryside.

The above story though perfectly sums up why so many beers in Belgium are known as Abbey Beers. Only those beers brewed on monastic premises by Trappist monks can be labelled ‘authentic’ Trappist beers, however those that are brewed elsewhere with a connection to an Abbey or a history of being brewed at an Abbey may lay claim to being an Abbey beer. It is often extremely lucrative for brewers to associate with these institutions and some links remain more tenuous than others however in the case of the Corsendonk Agnus we can remain fairly happy with this association.

The term ‘Abbey beer’ has no particular reference therefore to taste or flavour, although there are a few general standards. Most tend to be top fermented and undergo warm fermentations which allow the yeasts to produce a wide variety of interesting flavours. Most Abbey beers also tend to be at the higher end of the ABV scale, with Dubbels normally weighing in at between 6% and 7.5% and Tripels from 7.5% to 9.5%. There are some Abbey beers however which are relatively low strength and normally exist as some kind of reference to the beers the monks would have drunk in reality in medieval times – of which the Chimay Doree (#49) is a good example.

After a dry(ish) week drinking in the Arab Emirates and Oman, it was nice to get back to the higher quality end of the beer scale, and in particular this one. She poured a great frothy white head on a fine blonde body, which was rich in bitty sediment. The flavour was quite a tart vanilla which actually tasted more potent than the ABV. Despite this, a very palatable beer with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Immediately went out and bought another couple for the cellar, plus a Corsendonk Pater (#35).

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Filed under 8, Abbey Beer, Abbey Tripel, Du Bocq