Prayer and labour: Nuns produce toiletries from Trappist ale
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Prayer and labour: Nuns produce toiletries from Trappist ale

The nuns of Our Lady of Nazareth display their wares. © TRAPP

A group of Trappist nuns have launched a line of body-care products based on Westmalle Dubbel beer, now flying off the shelves of their webshop.

The Trappist order – or the Order of Cistercian Sisters of the Strict Observance, to give it its full title – is based on the simple motto Ora et labora – Prayer and labour. Each abbey is independent and self-supporting.

The order is familiar mainly for its brewing activities. Trappist beers are extremely popular and exclusive. Only 12 abbeys in all the world are allowed to use the name Trappist, and six of them are in Belgium.

The use of the name is not limited to beer, but beer features in the products made by the nuns of the abbey of Our Lady of Nazareth in Brecht, in Antwerp province close to the Dutch border.

Back in 1964 they started producing washing-up liquid to sell to support their cloister. That grew into a product line featuring floor cleaner, shampoo, bath foam and hand soap, and last year the production line started a major renovation.

Now, the abbey has launched a new series of three product lines made using Westmalle Dubbel, a strong, dark beer made by the monks of the Westmalle abbey, less than six kilometres down the road from the nunnery.

When it became apparent how successful our Westmalle Dubbel Shampoo was with our customers, the plan was to develop other care products with Trappist beer, said abbess Sister Katharina.

Scientific studies have shown that the polyphenols, minerals, vitamins and trace elements in the beer are good for the skin and hair, she said.

The question is often asked whether our Westmalle Dubbel Shampoo also smells of beer. I can reassure everyone that it does not. During the production process, the liquid shampoo, shower gel, hand soap and body lotion are lightly perfumed, giving them a very pleasant scent.”

The TRAPP products – shampoo, shower gel, hand soap and body lotion – are available in three scents: lavender, aloe vera and traditional. They are available from the abbey shop or online at their webshop.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times