A historic bell destroyed in a Belgian church during World War I has been repaired – thanks to Scottish beer drinkers.
The treasured bell that once hung in Belgium’s Park Abbey is to finally ring again, 100 years after it was destroyed, thanks to sales of premium Belgium beer, Heverlee, in Scotland.
The most valuable of the bells in the Abbey, which resides in the Abbey’s steeple, cost £30,000 to replace and was paid for through the royalties to the monks of the Abbey from sales in the beer’s most popular two regions.
The Abbey’s 160 bells were destroyed in WW1 and every one will now ring again for the first time on 11 November as part of Armistice Day.
The momentous occasion comes after the Mayor of Leuven campaigned for years to have the bells replaced after they were destroyed in a First World War attack on the town.
Since identifying the regiment that were responsible, the Martial Fund paid for the replacements for all but one of the bells – the most valuable that’s located in the steeple – now remunerated for by Heverlee beer drinkers.
Established in 1129 by Belgian monks, Heverlee was developed at the Abbey as a light, fresh-tasting lager at a time when other Abbeys focused on heavier, darker ales.
However when forced to close production as brewing became commercial, the beer was forgotten. Leuven-born brewer Joris Brams used descriptions of the ancient beer to create the Heverlee consumed now, crafted using traditional ingredients and techniques.
Joris Brams, master brewer of Heverlee, said: ‘The stunning Park Abbey in the town of Heverlee is where the ancient monks originated the beer hundreds of years ago, so it’s a huge occasion for the success of Heverlee today to be giving back to the institution that created it.
‘Living in Leuven I have seen how celebrated the refurbishment of the Abbey has been, and it’s through the popularity of Heverlee in Scotland and Northern Ireland that the masthead of the Abbey can again take its rightful place.’
Heverlee, although brewed in Belgium, is popularly sold and distributed in the UK, with royalties from those regions paying for the Abbey’s ancient bell.
The premium Belgian beer launched in off-licenses and supermarkets for the very first time in August 2017 in 330ml can and 660ml bottle format, and is found in pubs and bars across the UK.