Monasteries | Tilburg (NL)
Abdij O.L.Vrouw van Koningshoeven
Eindhovenseweg 3 ~ NL-5056 RP Berkel-Enschot - Netherland
tel. +31 (0)13 54 08 508 ~ fax +31 (0)13 54 43 678
Koningshoeven Abbey was founded in 1881 as a result of the French government’s anti-clerical position at that time. The abbot of the Trappist monastery Mont des Cats was worried about the future of his community and wanted to be assured of a safe place of refuge if the situation should become too precarious. Within a few years, the community blossomed, due to the many vocations from the Netherlands… and it was never really necessary for the monks of Mont des Cats to flee France.
One of the first monks to enter Koningshoeven was the son of a brewer from Munich – that’s why the first superior, Dom Nivard, thought it would be a good idea to start a brewery in addition to the farming activities, which were producing relatively little – and up to the present, the brewery has been one of the sources of income for the community.
Monastic life always involves a search for a good balance between prayer and work. With the sharp decline in the number of monks, the community has had to find ways to make adaptations to enable the brewery to continue to operate responsibly while safeguarding the monastic life.
This has resulted in a cooperative agreement with the Dutch brewing company, Bavaria, Inc. Based on this agreement, the brewery at the monastery has become “The Koningshoeven, Inc.,” an independent daughter company of Bavaria. Since 1997, Bavaria has rented the buildings from the monastery and produces several different kinds of beer as commissioned by, and under the supervision of, the monks, under the brand name “La Trappe.” The monks also supervise the distribution of the beer. In order to assure that everything proceeds harmoniously, there are two directors for the brewery: one is qualified professional from outside the monastery who takes care of the daily administration; and one is a monk, appointed by the abbot as director. These two directors have a short consultation every day, and once every six weeks they report to the corporate administrative board, on which the abbot also has a seat, as well as several advisory members from outside the monastery. The monks themselves help package gift boxes of beer and sell beer in their Monastery Store.
It’s been a while now since the monks have actually had a hand in brewing the beer.
That’s why, a few years ago, the community started reflecting on new forms of meaningful monastic work, especially in the area of traditional crafts. First of all, a Monastery Store was opened on a modest scale, followed by the idea of stocking the store, at least in part, with their own products, which corresponded with the desire to begin baking their own bread.
….and so a bakery came into being, set up and run by the monks. Once a week they bake bread and once a week they bake butter cookies/biscuits. Some of the whole wheat bread and a few of the cookies/biscuits are for their own use and are served in the guesthouse, but most of the production is sold in the Tasting Room and in the Monastery Store. They’ve also developed their own special Spent Grain Bread, using the spent grain which is a by-product of the beer production. They’ve also taken advantage of their customers’ wish for health foods – once a week they bake Sourdough Bread using an original recipe.
In 2006, the monks started making chocolate squares as well as truffles, which they call “Quatruffles,” since their Quadruple Beer is one of the ingredients in the filling. They’ve set up a special work-area where they can responsibly produce their chocolates in conformity with legal sanitary standards. Both chocolate products are sold in the Monastery Store. Two monks actually make the chocolates, and once a week most of the community comes to help package the chocolates as well as the cookies/biscuits.
A monk lives by the work of his hands, but he doesn’t work for his own profit. Part of the income generated by their work and the sale of their products goes to pay for their “daily bread” and the maintenance of their buildings. Another substantial part is used to help needy persons within the borders of their own country as well as abroad.