Important milestones in the history of the Abbey of Saint Sixtus brewery
9 August 2022
1814 Jan-Baptist Victoor settled as a hermit in the woods of Westvleteren.
1831 Some monks from the French Abbey Mont-des-Cats joined the hermit in 1831 and founded the priory Saint-Sixtus.
1839 On 19th April 1839, Leopold I, King of the Belgians, signed the brewing license. In June 1839, the monks officially brewed for the first time.
1842 The priory became an abbey.
1860 Commissioning of the second small home brewery, destined for the monks’ own use.
1886 The inn ‘In de Vrede’ generated good revenues. The monks decided to increase the beer production. Start of the construction of a third brewhouse.
1896 Inauguration of the third brewhouse.
1927 The first brew using steam in the 'modern' fourth brewhouse. It remained in service until 5th January 1990. The beers tasted sour because of the presence of micro-organisms as a result of the use of a coolship. Subsequently the beer was sweetened.
WW2A lack of raw materials during the war forced the monks to brew only once every three weeks. A written source from 1942 mentions that the brewers of the region agreed to lend yeast to each other to be able to bridge the periods when no brewing activity took place. In other words, it is impossible that shortly after WW2 the 'Saint Sixtus Abbey had a 'pure' yeast, let alone a so-called 'Saint Sixtus yeast'.
1945 The production of the brewery was limited to the amount needed to support the Abbey.
1946 Sint-Bernardus Brewery in Watou acquired the license to brew and commercialise beers under the ‘Sint-Sixtus’ brand. The beers that were still brewed within the abbey walls were bottled in unlabelled bottles.
1976 Construction of a fermentation room with six open fermenters. The current recipe was being finalized. Since then, Westmalle yeast has been used for beer production within the abbey. End of the use of the coolship and the sweet-sour beer.
1979 A filling line with a capacity of approximately 12,000 bottles per hour was put into service.
1990 Inauguration of the fifth brew house, which is still in use.
1992 The Abbey decides to resume the commercialisation of Trappist Westvleteren. Only beers brewed within the walls of a Trappist Abbey can use the designation "Trappist beer".
1999 Following the opening of the visitor centre “In De Vrede”, the dark Westvleteren 6 was replaced by Westvleteren Blond.
2002 Westvleteren 12 voted 'best beer in the world' for the first time.
2006 Launch of the 'beer telephone'.
2013 Opening of the new bottling plant.
2016 Construction of a completely new secondary fermentation with storage space.
2019 The beer telephone was replaced by an online reservation system.
2021 First full-fledged e-commerce business with home delivery in Belgium.
2022 Reintroduction of beer labels.