Podcast Episode 366: St. Bernardus Uses Modern Tools and Ingredients to Stay True to Historic and Classic Recipes

The West Flanders brewery, launched in 1946 to brew the beers for a nearby (and equally well-known) monastery, has adapted decade by decade as ingredients fluctuate and technology progresses. But their goal—to faithfully produce these abbey beers in a way that’s true to the original recipes—remains the same even as the tools change.

Jamie Bogner Jun 28, 2024 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 366: St. Bernardus Uses Modern Tools and Ingredients to Stay True to Historic and Classic Recipes Primary Image

Marco Passarella and Wouter Dely on the rooftop of the St. Bernardus brewery. Photo: Joe Stange.

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Carrying the weight of history and expectation poses a particular challenge for some European brewers, but nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of Belgian brewing. How, in the face of changing technology and consistently variable ingredients, does a brewer stay true to the ideas behind the classic recipes that underpin the core beers that their brewery produces? Over the past two decades, these are exactly the questions that St. Bernardus brewmaster Wouter Dely and sales manager Marco Passarella have had to face.

In this episode, they discuss:

  • adjusting classic recipes to today’s modern brewhouse reality
  • working with barley that varies year-to-year by adjusting step-mash times and temperatures
  • using Belgian candi sugar in brewing abbey-style beers
  • maintaining healthy fermentations using techniques such as drauflassen
  • fostering ester production by limiting head pressure in cylindroconical tanks
  • using different temperature glycol in fermentor jackets through the course of the fermentation
  • time as an ingredient in brewing
  • the mechanics of bottle conditioning

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].