An ongoing dispute between Rochefort, Belgium’s Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, also known as Brasserie Rochefort, or Rochefort Brewery, and a local lime quarry company could “irreversibly harm” the abbey’s beers, according to recent reports.
Rochefort’s Trappist ales have been produced by the abbey since at least 1797 (some say as far back as 1595). Its monks now fear the Lhoist-Bergman family, which owns the lime quarry and plans to lower the region’s groundwater level to benefit its business, will put their recipes in jeopardy.
The dispute began more than 10 years ago, and has involved an ongoing legal battle between the Rochefort monks and the Lhoist-Berghman family. The latter was recently given permission by the city for test pumping, scheduled for mid-May.
Should the project move forward, the groundwater table the monks and the town of Rochefort depend on for drinking water would be destroyed, The Guardian reports. An alternative water source, the monks say, would alter the flavor of Rochefort’s Trappist beers.
Geoffroy Fiévet, the quarry manager, said, “It is an incredibly complex matter that is hard to explain. And of course people choose the side of the abbey and not the quarry. Nobody knows about lime, but everyone likes a Trappist.”
Learn more about Belgian and Trappist ales here.