The Van Steenberge brewery is located in the small town of Ertvelde, just north of Ghent. Jef Versel, a 6th generation brewer is the current head of a family operation that dates back to 1784, surviving two world wars and a monumental change in beer culture across the developed world. At its peak, the province of East Flanders housed over 650 breweries, but due to the decline in family brewing, Van Steenberge are the only remaining independent brewer in the region.
Belgium has a deep history of brewing with 6 of the 7 Trappist, beers being produced by Belgian breweries. St. Stefanus, which is brewed at the Van Steenberge brewery is an Abbey Beer with origins rooted at the Sint Stefanus monastery. It is this detail that means Stefanus is an Abbey beer, rather than a Trappist; Trappist beers are still produced at the monastery.
With roots dating back to 1295, St. Stefanus Blonde is the original abbey beer contracted to the Van Steenberge Brewery. To this day, it’s brewed with three different yeasts and matured for at least three months. This speciality Belgian Blonde beer is an unpasteurised, high fermented beer that is then re-fermented in the bottle.
As the beer is aged, it is constantly checked to make sure it is maturing. Jef Versele holds regular tastings and will only release a batch when he decides it’s ready.