Monks at a Belgian abbey renowned for its beer are fighting plans by a local quarry to tap into deeper water reserves which, they contend will damage the taste of their prized offerings.
Here’s where things stand…
The Trappist brewers of the Belgian abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy have been engaged in a long-running dispute with the Lhoist-Berghmans family (one of the richest in Belgium). It’s been going on for nearly a decade and clouded by almost Game of Thrones-like political machinations.
Lhoist, runs a lime quarry near the abbey in Rochefort, home to some of Belgium’s most valued beers.
The company had hoped to deepen its quarry and seek out new sources of water, but the Trappist brewers worried that their actions might impact the water source as well as their beer if the project was allowed to go forward.
In 2017 the Walloon environment minister Di Antonio issued Lhoist a license to drill.
But in 2018 “Belgium’s highest administrative court, the council of state, has sided with the Trappist monks in their dispute and has withdrawn the multinational’s license to perform drilling tests at a site near the brewery,” according to Flanders News and world’s largest lime producer ordered to halt its deep drilling.
The back and forth has continued steadily since then 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 allowed for the exploratory drilling to begin again.
“This has led the monks to claim that the official who granted the request showed bias.” according to the Drinks Business 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 contend that water sourced from deeper aquifers will not suitable for brewing.
And the Lhoist company, (think the Lannisters) which employs hundreds of locals at its quarry argue that the abbey (think the monks of Westeros) agreed to testing back in 2008 but then changed their minds and have been intractable ever since.
So it’s a Game of Thrones scenario, only with beer at stake, and an outcome that remains to be seen…