In the most remote corner of West Flanders, in the middle of “Le Plat Pays”, in the heart of the hop area in West Flanders, a beer is made that beer lovers around the world have come to adore.
In this poetic village, called Watou, time is apparently passing by slower than in the rest of the country. Life over there is different, quieter; where people live in accordance with nature, where tradition and values are honoured as though time has stood still. This is also the case for the brewery.
Due to the anti clerical policy in the beginning of the past century, the Catsberg Abbey Community, located in the northern part of France, decided to move to Watou, a small village only a couple of kilometres further away but located in Belgium. They transformed a farm into the “Refuge Notre Dame de St.Bernard” with the production of Abbey cheese being the main product. With the proceeds of the sales, they financed the Abbey activities.
In the early thirties, the attitudetowards the Clergy in France got better and in 1934, the Abbey community decided to dispose of the Belgian annex move back all of it's activities to France.
Mr. Evarist Deconinck took over the cheese factory and built a new building at the Trappistenweg in Watou where the cheese was further developed and commercialised. This building was later transformed into the present private rooms but the traces of the cheese factory are still visible and incorporated in the present residence.
Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus decided to stop commercialisation of their beer and called upon non-residents of the Abbey.
An agreement was made : inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery there would only be beer brewed for their own consumption, for sales to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns who where connected to the Monastery. Mr. Deconinck on the other hand would brew and commercialise the Trappist Beers under licence (for a period of 30 years)
Next to the cheese factory, a new brewery was constructed and Mr. Deconinck started to brew the Sixtus beers with the help of the Masterbrewer of Westvleteren, who brought along his wisdom, knowledge and the original recipes.
In the beginning of the 60’s, the son-in-law of Mr. Deconinck, Mr. Claus stepped into the brewery and negotiations started to renew the license. This was finalised in 1962, again for a period of 30 years (until 1992)
In 1992, the agreement came to an end because the Trappist Monasteries (5 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands) decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of aTrappist Monastery.
Therefore, since 1992 the beers brewed at the Trappistenweg 23 in Watou are commercialised under a new brand name ‘ StBernardus’ (referring to the Refuge de Notre Dame de StBernard – cfr. supra).