Friday 7 May 2010

Project Pater

Those of you who follow my blog will have picked up on my secret project, Project Pater. For my autumn seasonal I have set out to brew a Cornish interpretation of a Trappist patersbier. Of course those of you not conversant with the world of brewing monks will not know what a patersbier is. Most Trappist beers are by UK cask standards very strong, ranging from 6 to 12% ABV. Now, however pleasant to drink these big and beautiful ales are they are a little too strong to constitute liquid bread for the monks to graze on at meal times. Lashed up monks scrapping and tripping over their habits is a comedic image but a long way from reality. For their own consumption the monks produce a weaker beer which is known in Flemish as a patersbier.

There are 7 Trappist breweries in the Low Countries but one in particular is renowned for its Patersbier. The monastery in question is of Orval (meaning valley of gold) and their small beer is called Petite Orval. At 3.2% if it was sold in the UK it would be termed a session beer. I am not sure that monks ever partake in le session. I have been trying since I have been obsessed with beer (19 years) to get into a Trappist brewery. I nearly wrote in to Jim’ll Fix it in 1992. I didn’t hold out much hope of any joy this time but went about asking every industry figure who had a connection with Belgium if they are able to help. Filip Geerts, Chris Pollard (podge), Kelly Ryan and Phil “The daddy” Lowry have all been incredibly helpful and I found out yesterday that I am in! In a couple of weeks I will be meeting Brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock in the Orval brewery at the Monastery. If there was such a thing as an excitementometer I would have broken every one within a two hundred mile radius!

The beer that I am aiming to brew will not be an attempt to brew Petite Orval on my brew kit. It is to be a recreation of the soul of Petite Orval in the guise of a stylish well-brewed Cornish Ale. If you will a tribute to what Petite Orval stands for, using some of the techniques used to make it. The visit to the monastery will give me a brewer’s insight into the soul of Petite Orval. A few of you will no doubt know that Jean Marie did a collaborative brew of an Imperial Pilsner with a Belgian brewer in the US earlier this year. The concept of my beer is entirely different to this although I will be inviting Monsieur Rock back to Rock to oversee the first brew. If he is unable or not inclined to come to Cornwall he will be receiving a cask of the beer for his approval.

Travelling with me to Orval will be a man with a camera to record for posterity the most excited Head Brewer in history. I will be updating the blog with details of the trip and the resulting brew as things develop.

Your letter was only the start of it
One letter and now you’re a part of it
Now you've done it Jim has fixed it for you
And you and you

There must be something that you always wanted
The one thing that you always wanted
Now you've done it Jim has fixed it for you
And you and you

Bup bah bah
Bup bup bup bup bah
Jim’ll fix it for you
And you and you oo oo


Crown Brewery said...


Anonymous said...

And typographically that Jim'll Fix It song looks like a little Orval glass - good touch …

BeerReviewsAndy said...

nice one!!! im sure u will have a wicked time, make sure u bring back some orval cheese ;op

Barry M said...

The nicest thing about this, is that it shows that grown men can have simple dreams that can come true. There's hope for us all :)

Now then, now then. Jingle jangle!

Stuart Howe said...

Thanks Guys!

Bup bah bah! Bup bah bah bah bah bah!

MicMac said...

I managed to wangle a private tour at Orval, because I had a German brewing colleague & friend in common with Dave Roberts (Pilgrim Brewery & SIBA stalwart) - I think he managed to sort the visit because his excellent pub Rising Sun, Epsom (RIP) stocked Orval.

A really fascinating trip, we were made very welcome (unexpectedly, by a beautiful brewster) though it was perhaps a little sad to see them experimenting with CCFVs.

I've not had the beer in a long while, but coincidentally talk of it seems to have been in the ether in the past few days.

(try the cheese too - mild but nice).

All this & 108 year old beer - you're really living the dream!
PS did I ever tell you the Scouse/Chimay connection?

Stuart Howe said...

If I had known you were the man in the know I would have tapped you up Michael! I'll look out for your graffiti in the bogs.

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