Trappist® Tribute and De Kloostergang: how it started.

How it all started!

Koen Naulaerts & Kenny Hermans

sharing their story.

It was written in the stars that the two young Flemish Boys: Koen Naulaerts and Kenny Hermans would start this advetnure. The day Koen gave up his job in Dubai and boarded the plane to Belgium, Kenny was already planning to say goodbye to his then employer Coca-Cola. As soon as Koen set foot on Belgian soil, he called Kenny: "Say, I'm back. If you would like to meet? "Kenny replied:" That's good, I just stopped at Coca-Cola. "Four hours later they were eating mussels in Westende with a

After several months of brainstorming Beer always stayed in the picture. Koen and Kenny were particularly interested in the beer experience. They did research on virtual reality, augmented reality and beer experience, visited various companies in the Benelux and repeatedly put their ideas on paper. Unfortunately, all these plans and wild dreams turned out to be too ambitious, especially financially.    

As real belgian beer lovers, Koen and Kenny visited bars in Leuven, Brussels, Amsterdam and other major cities. They found inspiration at the Heineken Experience. But the theme that stuck the most were those Trappist beers.    

Like Paul Jambers, Koen and Kenny wondered who the Trappists are, what they do and what drives them. They decided to explore this mysterious world.    

After many unanswered e-mails and failed attempts to introduce themselves, an abbey opened the gates for Koen and Kenny. And it was not the least: Orval Abbey.  

Brother Xavier, also chairman of the ITA (International Trappist Association), had heard about two young guys who wanted to set up a project around Trappists and was willing to listen to their proposal. Koen and Kenny told him about their plans with a Tribute Box, a Trappist bar and some other ideas. The conversation was fascinating and intense. Soon Koen and Kenny realized they had entered a completely different world.    

(Want to know more about the Trappist order and the IVT click here!

After this meeting, the ITA introduced them to several abbeys and every now and then a door opened for Koen and Kenny. On the other hand, it turned out that entrepreneurship is not easy, especially if you want to enter the well-protected world of the Trappists. They are literally difficult to reach behind their monastery walls.          

It didn't really progress. Koen and Kenny experienced firsthand what monks patience really is. As virtuous as it is, as young entrepreneurs with no income, they felt that things could progress a bit faster as they were.    

In the end, Koen and Kenny decided to literally knock on the door of the abbeys. They traveled from the Netherlands to Austria, from Italy to the United States. And had the experience of a lifetime.    

Ze waren onder de indruk van de grootte van de Trappistenorde en leerden niet alleen monniken, maar ook monialen (Trappistinnen) kennen. In alle abdijen werden Koen en Kenny tot hun aangename verrassing bijzonder warm onthaald. Op korte tijd leerden ze enorm veel bij van de kloosterbroeders en –zusters. Zonder hun enthousiaste steun zou het Trappist Tribute-project nooit van de grond gekomen zijn.    

The confidence of the Trappist Order slowly but surely increased. The ITA finally gave their blessing for the Trappist® Tribute Box.    

But their focus was never only on just Trappist beers. They started collecting all kinds of Trappist products: jam, biscuits, coffee, tea, books, you name it. This is how the idea grew to start a pop-up bar, with a menu containing only Trappist products. Despite (or thanks to) Kenny's past, Coca-Cola certainly wouldn't be on the menu. Eventually, when De Kloostergang was in the pipeline, Koen and Kenny chose not to put any commercial product on the map. Trappist and nothing else. A unique concept. Nobody had ever done this before.      

Maar hun liefde voor bier konden Koen en Kenny niet onder stoelen of banken steken. Ze zochten contact met experts die mee hun schouders onder hun project wilden zetten. Jef Van den Steen, misschien wel de grootste Trappistenkenner ter wereld, en Wim Swinnen, culinair journalist gespecialiseerd in biergastronomie, verleenden graag hun medewerking. Swinnen leerde Koen en Kenny gerenommeerde bierchefs als Raf Sainte, Hilaire Spreuwers en Alex Verhoeven kennen. Het startschot van De Kloostergang werd gegeven in juli 2019 en het e-commerceluik met de Trappist Tribute Box volgde in oktober 2019.    

We highly recommend you to visit both restaurants when in Belgium:  Gebrande Winning (Raf Sainte) & Hert (Alex Verhoeven)

Koen and Kenny would like to thank everyone who believed in and supported their project.

Wat een verhaal!

A Story to Taste.