The "historical" trappist breweries

The abbey of Oelenberg

Established in Reiningue in Alsace, the Trappist abbey of Oelenberg had a brewery, about which very little is known.  But we know that it did exist.

The Trappists who occupied the abbey after 1825 built a brewery.  In 1854, the brewery was listed under the name 'Stadler', probably the family name of the monk who was then master brewer.  The brewery was annexed to the mill in 1855.  At that time, the vast cellars were dug in clay, directly under the monastery.

The monks brewed a table beer for the needs of the community, and also to counter the poor quality of the wine about which the monks rightly complained.  With beer production initially very limited, the brewery doubled as a laundry, with the copper boiler often used for washing clothes instead of brewing beer!

Following the plans of Father Ignace, a new brewery and a malt factory were built in 1894 to sell draft beer to private visitors.  Barley and hops were grown on the abbey’s grounds.  Production likely did not exceed 2800 hl a year, and was consumed primarily by the monks and their hosts, as well as the sisters of the nearby community in Altbronn.  During the summer, a stagecoach connected Lutterbach to the convent, and many Mulhousians came to sample the bread, cheese, and beer of the abbey.

Visitors to the abbey about 1904 reported that “the brewery is lately organized and, the brewer controlling his art, one drinks a truly splendid beer there.”  This testimony from German visitors accustomed to beers of high quality in their own country is certainly significant. Some brewery directories give information about this brewery, called “Klosterbrauerei Oelenberg,” listing it as still active between 1910 and 1920.  However, it probably ceased activity by the end of World War I.

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