Brewing with passion and heart for 700 years

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Over the last month we have taken you through the history of St. Stefanus, from the monastic legacy to today’s master brewer – Jef Versele. This great story of survival and generosity demonstrates the passion and heart of St. Stefanus, providing a deeper understanding of the beer and where it comes from. Here, we recap that journey and give a brief story of the beer with the heart. St. Stefanus was born out of necessity. Belgium had huge problems with disease and death from dirty water, so many abbeys started to produce beer to give the locals something safe to drink. In 1295, the Sint Stefanus Monastery began brewing beer in Ghent, seeing it as part of their duty to serve and aid the community. The Monastery The Monastery This great tradition lives on today, after the St. Stefanus recipe was passed on to the nearby Van Steenberge Brewery. The two institutions still maintain a very strong relationship, ensuring that the beer stays true to its roots. The Brewery The Brewery The brewery’s history dates back over six generations to its humble Belgian farm beginnings in the province of East Flanders, Ghent. While there were over 650 breweries in this area back in 1900, ours is the only one that remains today. Ghent Ghent The reason for such a decline in Trappist and abbey breweries is the testing trials and tribulations they have had to face. In 1566, the original Sint Stefanus Monastery was destroyed in the iconoclastic fury of 1566, when Calvinists ravaged every church, monastery and convent in the Low Countries. The abbey was carefully rebuilt, only to be destroyed again by the French Revolution, which stripped all abbeys and monasteries of their wealth and power. In 1796, the monastery was rebuilt again for a final time, and it is still standing today. Leadership Leadership It wasn’t all plain sailing from there though, as the Van Steenberge family had to guide the brewery through two World Wars. At the same time, St. Stefanus was undergoing a great period of expansion. Paul and his son, Jozef, developed a strong passion for brewing, and their drive and vision took the Van Steenberge brewery to new heights. Modern Times Modern Times Jozef continued working in the brewery while studying law, at the wish of his father, and he later followed in his footsteps by becoming the mayor of Ertvelde. Today, St. Stefanus and the Van Steenberge brewery live on through Jozef’s grandson – Jef Versele. After starting work at the brewery in 1998, he became passionate about beer and began developing his craft with the guidance of his uncle. In true family tradition, Jef eventually took up the title of master brewer, which he remains to this day. 6th Generation Master Brewer Jef 6th Generation Master Brewer Jef

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