Scotland will be among one of the world’s first countries to enjoy a sip of a Belgian beer whose recipe lay forgotten for centuries.
A lager recreated from ingredients and techniques from medieval times will be introduced to Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland before a global release.
Heverlee, thought to originate in Belgium’s largest abbey - the Abbey of the order of Premontre - may have been brewed as early as the 12th century, several hundred years before the emergence of the nation’s world-renowned Artois name. Premontre, established in 1129, was subject to reseach by Leven-born brewer Joris Brams, who redeveloped the beer in accordance with traditional ingredients and techniques forgotten after the part of the abbey was demolished long ago.
Working alongside abbey monks and a local brewer, Brams, who grew up two miles away from Premontre, created Heverlee using barley, specially selected hops and a slower, traditional brewing process.
Brams said: “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.”
Speaking of the beer’s introduction to Scotland, Brams said: “Although I live and work in Belgium, I know Scotland well. 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.”
The abbey is to receive a 45 million euro investment as part of a refurbishment programme, with plans to extend Heverlee to other sites around the world in the coming months.