The "Good-for-nothing fields ..."
In the Rhône valley, on the borders of Isère and Drôme, at an altitude of approximately 600 meters, a succession of plateaus rises under the common name of "Chambarands."
The name is said to derive from the local expression "Fields good to ran (nothing)," or, according to a more scholarly interpretation, from the Latin "Campus arandus (Fields which must be plowed)." In any case, the Chambarands were considered an ungrateful land and not very conducive to agriculture.
Founded in July 1868 by a colony of monks coming from Sept-Fons, work began quickly. However, the construction of the monastery proceeded rather slowly, its work being temporarily interrupted by the tremors linked to the war of 1870. First installed in an old castle (more like a ruined farm), the Trappists settled in their premises at the end of 1872, the bulk of the work being finished. During this time, the fields had been plowed and sown with wheat, which won the admiration of the local population, accustomed to the difficulty of working these lands.
Close to a military firing range, the abbey also developed due to the presence of soldiers and officers requesting the accommodation offered and creating certain sources of income. In 1877, the monastery was consecrated as an abbey.
Following the movement to expel the congregations, the community went into exile in Brazil. A few years later they returned to Sept-Fons, which then sent a group of monks to re-found the Orval abbey in 1926.
In April 1931, a colony of nuns from the Abbey of Maubec took possession of the premises and founded a community of Trappistines still present there.
THE Brewery (I)
The Trappist fathers arrived in 1868 on the plateau of Chambarand, and began making beer in 1872.
For the elaboration of their beer, the Trappist fathers carried out a top fermentation between 15 ° and 20 °. However, the use of this method caused conservation problems.
To remedy this problem, a Bavarian master brewer was hired in 1885 and set up a low fermentation process around 1890, with technical assistance from the Abbey of Sept-Fons.
We know that in 1888, the Abbot of Chambarand asked, during the General Chapter held in Sept-Fons, that he be allowed to expand his hotel [The Tamié register specifies in brackets: (from his cellars to beer)] and proposed to spend 18,000 francs for it; the General Chapter gave him the power to do so.
Thanks to the blocks of ice which were stored in winter in cellars, the Trappist fathers were able to guarantee a beer of equal quality in all seasons. The beer, pasteurized, was made entirely of barley and hops. Testimonies attest that "it was an aperitif, digestive and nourishing beer, to be taken during meals or between meals as a refreshing and tonic drink." Sold in cases of 25 bottles and barrels of 25 to 100 liters, it was found in Vesoul, Saulieu and Nice.
In 1897, Dom Chautard was elected abbot of Chambarand; he quickly took care of adjusting the brewery's accounts. At the beginning of the 20th century, when the congregations were being abolished, he could do nothing to prevent the closure of the abbey which took place in 1903. (Despite the tabling in the Senate on December 2, 1902, of a proposal for authorization for all Cistercian houses, the government did not accommodate requests from four houses including Chambarand and Sainte Marie du Mont, Chambarand being criticized because "the main goal of this community is the management of an important brewery.")
In 1903, following the movement to expel the congregations, the Trappist fathers ceded their activity to M. DUMASDIER, de Roybon. The brewery kept its name of "Brasserie de la Trappe de Chambarand." Following financial difficulties, the operation of this brewery ceased in 1922. In April 1931, it was decided that Mother Marie Bonheur of the monastery of Maubec would repopulate Chambarand with a group of nuns, replacing the fathers and sisters there and oriented toward cheese making.
A visit to the monastery ...
The following extract comes from an article in the newspaper l'Echo de la Vienne of July 6, 1899: "A visit to the monastery of La Trappe de Chambarand by Roybon (Isère)"
“Received with great courtesy by RP Antoine, abbot of the Monastery, and RP Antonin, who deals more with industrial questions, we explain to them the purpose of our visit, and our desire to know the details relating to the manufacture of the beer they deal with."
“We made, he replied, beer for our personal consumption, wine, making, a few years ago, lacking in our uncultivated region. When the officers coming to the Chambarand firing range, 8 kilometers away, came to our hotel to quench their thirst several times, they found our beer so enjoyable, that they hired us to develop our production, and little by little, we were forced to respond to ever increasing demands."
“This is because we were and still are far from producing what is called consumer beer; about two-thirds of our beer is in demand on doctor's orders."
"It is enough to indicate with what scrupulous conscience we only use hops, barley and water to make it ... / ... beer, prepared as it is in Chambarand, with pure hops from Bavaria or Bohemia; with barley from Le Puy, with excellent water from the mountains ... / ... it is for this reason that the Trappist RR.PP do not trust anyone to prepare their malt ... / ... (fermentation) takes place at low temperature (hence the term bottom fermentation beer), within a period of 12 to 15 days ... / ... and when the actual fermentation is complete , the beer is put into casks where it stays for three months."
“In these casks, we took care, to develop the deposit surface, to introduce hazelnut shavings, and then we remove an absolutely clear and limpid beer, which we will nevertheless still filter, before put in barrels."
"... the beer, when finished, is carefully put into tarred kegs so that no foreign contact changes its nature ... / ... it is thus shipped in quantities of 25 to 60 liters to all parts. from France..."