Mariastern Abbey is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the entity of Republika Srpska, near Banja Luka
The Trappists arrived in Banja Luka in 1869. Having bought land in the village of Delibašino, they founded the monastery and quickly got to work.
This foundation was the culmination of the hard work of Father Frans Pfaner who had been looking for almost two years for a place to establish a Trappist monastery in Southeastern Europe.
The Trappists temporarily settled in a wooden hut. Nine Trappist brothers lived there and they called this shed the Cradle. Inside the hangar were two wooden barrels in which the Trappists kept their books, breviary, ink and paper.
The Vicar General and Abbot of Sept-Fons, Dom Jérôme, visited the monastery in May 1885 and was very satisfied with its situation. Consequently, he recommended that the monastery of Mariastern be designated as an abbey and for this purpose obtained the support of the members of the Chapter of the Order of the Trappists who transmitted this proposal to Rome.
Between 1890 and 1900 many improvements and modernization works were undertaken. Semi-industrial workshops were fitted out or modernized, including a textile factory, brewery, cheese factory, and printing house.
After the Second World War, all properties of the abbey were expropriated, and only a few parcels of land and buildings remained the property of the abbey.
Most Trappists left Mariastern Abbey in 1944. During the expansion of the Banja Luka Brewery (a brewery founded by the Trappists prior to the expropriation), the site of the original monastery contained only a few commercial facilities from the old abbey complex. These were rebuilt, enlarged and converted to the needs of the brewery. Other buildings of the old abbey complex, the old church, the monastery and some commercial premises were demolished and new buildings erected on the site.
Most of the new monastery was rebuilt for the needs of the rehabilitation center. The church, several rooms on the upper floor in part of the right wing of the monastery, and the monastery cemetery remained in the possession of the monastery. The 1969 earthquake caused very serious damage.
The new monastery is now home to only two monks, who continue to make cheese.
It seems that the brewery was founded in 1875. By 1881 it was brewing around 547 hl; this volume increased in the years that followed (6,500 hl, then up to 50,000 hl around 1898-1899, to drop back to around 6,000 hl in 1907.
The monks first brewed beer for their own needs.
Subsequently, the beer was produced for the neighboring village as well, and probably given to the needy for a time, then was subsequently marketed more widely.
It is probable that this beer was of low fermentation, which would imply Czech and German materials on the spot. In 1889 it was decided to expand and modernize the brewery, and the new equipment was installed by Czechs. The new brewery was completed at the end of 1897, after work was stopped for more than a year due to a fatal accident during the construction of the frame.
The brewing method was taught to the monks by Elegius Blavart, from Brno (Moravia, CZ). As production capacities had been greatly expanded, it was now necessary to sell the beer, and that was a whole different story. Indeed, problems arose with competing brewers who did not wish to see their regional monopoly crumble. The competing brewers accused the Trappists of spreading German culture and exploiting the local population.
Many hostels refused to take their beer, even though it was cheaper and better than those in Sarajevo. Father Dominic made the decision to rent or build pub-inns in Bosanski Novi (Novigrad), Bugojno, Jajce, Prijedor, Prnjavor and Tuzla. There were indeed no equivalent facilities in these places. These were subsequently closed and sold due to persistent accusations of competition, arguing that the Trappists constituted unfair competition, dealing more with trade than prayer.
The Trappist brewery employed local staff, and attempts were made to produce malt there, but the results were disappointing. Brewer's sugar, on the other hand, was produced on site.
The monks also tried, for a time, to grow their own hops, but eventually gave up and eventually imported them from Slovenia. During the Second World War, the Croatian government took over the brewery, and then it was the Communists. The Trappists were expropriated many goods including their brewery.
The Banja Luka brewery is still today one of the largest breweries in Republika Srpska.