In 1814 Jan-Baptist Victoor settled as a hermit in the woods of Westvleteren, where monastic communities had already lived long before. The history of the Saint-Sixtus Abbey started when some monks of the French abbey Mont-des-Cats joined the hermit in 1831.
Aside from their monastic activities the monks also cultivated the fields around the abbey, produced cheese… in order to be self-supportive. Already in the early days, beer was brewed in small quantities, not for sale but just for their own consumption. The Saint-Sixtus Abbey’s archive reveals that the first expenses for a brewery were made in June 1838.
In May 1839, the Abbey received a brewer’s license signed by king Leopold I on April 19, 1839. Most likely a first test brew was produced the same month. In June 1839 the first official brew was produced. The 25,45 Belgian francs paid for the rights of the two brews bear witness to this.
The first brewhouse was installed in the first monastery, where most likely the forge was located later. In 1849 the monks not only built a new church but also a second monastery.
Around 1860 a vast complex of buildings for amongst others sheds, a guesthouse, barns, and a second brewery, was built. It remained however a small domestic brewery for personal use.
Only from 1878 on production increased due to a good turnover of the tavern ‘In de Vrede’. Between 1886 and 1896 a third brewhouse, fully operational as from 1896, was built.