Q: What do bridge builders and dentists have in common?
A: St. Feuillien, their patron saint.
So, who was St. Feuillien and why is a brewery named after him?
Feuillien was the son of an Irish king who, following the influence of his brother, became a monk in Great Yarmouth. As a result of war between rival kings he was forced to flee the country, taking refuge in northern France and Belgium, where he later founded an Abbey at Fosses-la-ville in the region of Namur. The connection with today’s brewery comes from his death; he was murdered on his way back to the monastery in 656 in a wood, where today the small town of Roeulx stands. And, yes, the brewery is situated in Rouelx!
Following his murder a small chapel was built in remembrance ; this was replaced by a cloister in the 12th Century, where, naturally enough, the monks began to brew beer and continued to do so for several hundred years until the French Revolution finally forced a stop.
In 1873 the Friart family founded their brewery; what better name could they have found than St. Feuillien, based upon the long tradition of the brewing monks.
Grand Cru stands on its own; unlike the St. Feuillien abbey beers (Blonde, Brune,Tripel, Cuvee de Noel) spices are not added to the brew. In the glass it has a pale golden colour with full, white, frothy head. Fruity bread dough aroma.
A bit sweeter than expected at first, but this settles to a nice blend of fruit, yeast and malt, topped off with a mild bitterness. The alcohol (9,5% alc. Vol) is warming, but not overpowering, the carbonation good and the overall sensation is smooth.
A good beer, well worth trying.
One more piece of trivial info: St. Foillan in Aachen just over the border in Germany is the only church dedicated to the saint in the German speaking areas of Europe. You can also find a bit of him there in one of the reliquiaries – whether you can also find St Feuillien beer in Aachen, I don’t know.