Let’s drink to Koningshoeven Abbey

London A Cappella Festival

Trappist brewers look after their water

One of only a handful of places around the world to brew Trappist beer, Koningshoeven Abbey in the Dutch village of Berkel-Enschot, in Noord-Brabant, is putting the environment ahead of profit by becominhg the first brewery in western Europe to construct a plant-based water filtration system that avoids the current waste of seven litres of water for every litre of beer produced.

The abbey's products have won over drinkers around the world but for all the beer's commercial success there was a nagging sense that money had triumphed over spirituality. So, after more than 130 years in operation, they decided to introduce a new eco-friendly system, which has been officially consecrated, that will purify around 450,000 litres every seven hours when fully operational without any need for human intervention.

In the Cistercian monastery's greenhouse on the Dutch-Belgian border, 70 species of ferns and other sub-tropical plants sit above bins of waste water that flows through pipes from the brewery, with the interaction of the micro-organisms on the plants’ roots and the bacteria in the water purifying it for reuse.

Only beer brewed within a monastery’s walls is authentically Trappist and the Koningshoeven Abbey produces 10 million litres a year, with 43 per cent of its electricity also coming from solar panels.

The abbey plans to further reduce the monks’ ecological footprint in a less palatable way... by purifying human waste water for drinking. “I feel a big responsibility for the next generation,” said the abbey's Father Isaac. "And we need to ensure they inherit a cleaner world."

See the Koningshoeven Abbey website for more information.