Chapter 1

The Ardennes, 6666 years ago …

It all began over six thousand six hundred and sixty six years ago in the Ardennes. At the time, a very industrious tribe of gnomes lived in the Cédrogne wood and always wanted to live higher up. These zealous little men spoke in gestures as they had not yet found their voices.

Baraque Fraiture 6666 BC That was until, on a lovely sunny summer day in the wooded area of Baraque de Fraiture, these little people climbed a hill. This pile of earth was the highest point in Belgium (Belgica) at that time. On the top they discovered a spring. Out of this, the Cédrogne spring, flowed a chemical composition consisting of two hydrogen and one oxygen atom, (H20), or biologically pure water. By drinking too much of this wet commodity they slowly got their voices back. Scientifically speaking we can refer to this as "speech-water".

The annual lecture series "Speech-water" has become a permanent fixture in the programme of the Gallo-Romeins Museum in Tongeren, Belgium. Time after time the Gallo-Romeins Museum offers the participants a variety of national and international speakers. Each one of them, an expert in his own field, shares his knowledge with the audience. These are not long boring abstracts but clear presentations with room for debate. Without a doubt these speakers are descendants of our Cédrogne gnomes.

Centuries passed and this dwarf community developed their melodious sound into the nicest musical instrument ever developed in the Ardennes. Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), many centuries later, had a blow on it.

The wonderful drink tickled the gnomes so much in their noses that they had to sneeze: AAAA…CHOUF, AAAA…CHOUF!

From then on this charming place in the Ardennes was given the name Achouffe and was the home of a passionate and animated gnome community: Les Nains d'Achouffe (the Chouffe gnomes).

The speech-water from the Cédrogne spring inspired the Chouffe gnomes to extend their activities more creatively and follow their spirituous dreams which enriched their spirits.

The flying Buck gnome During a nightly gathering at the source they saw a similar being, seated on a flying buck, soaring past the moon. It was a wonderful apparition and, to attract his attention, they lit a huge camp-fire whose flames almost reached the moon. The flying gnome came down to them and landed right in the middle of the gathering.

The Chouffe gnomes welcomed their new guest and offered him a glass of Cédrogne spring water to drink. They told him that they planned to do more with this pure water and that was the reason they had called the meeting.

The flying Buck gnome not only had magic powers which enabled him to fly quickly around the earth but he also promised the Chouffe gnomes that he would brew a delicious drink from the pure Cédrogne water which would make everyone foam at the mouth and Chouffe-happy. This illustrious guest revealed himself to be a brewing engineer who was ahead of the times.

No sooner said than done, a few days later the gnomes began, under the professional guidance of the flying Buck gnome, to boil water from the Cédrogne source with crushed grains, herbs and prehistoric hops. They named this sweet aromatic mixture wort. When the wort was cooled they added home-grown yeast which was given the logical gnome name "Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Chouffelensis".

The following day the flying Buck gnome had disappeared. He was so nice that he left behind the recipe, written on a large oak leaf, on the desk of the excise controller. And the Chouffe gnomes brewed on!

the largest underground brewery A very spirituous Chouffe gnome discovered, under the plateau of Baraque Fraiture, an immense cave. So, long before the Sumerian nomads in Mesopotamia made their spirituous drink, the Chouffe gnomes were brewing their beer in the largest underground brewery on this earth or in the neighbourhood.

Belgium, The Land of Beer The beer was so delicious that, in no time, all the gnomes in the whole of Belgica named it their favourite drink. And production began to increase. At a certain moment 6.666.666 hectolitres of gnome beer were brewed in one day. Given that it was the highest point in Belgica at the time, distribution was no problem and the beer flowed in streams and rivers to the lower countries. Even the North Sea was beer-coloured, together with the Atlantic Ocean. Belgian settlements along these brooks and streams got their names from this thirsty period: Biervliet and Bierbeek are two examples of this.

That is how Belgium became known as "HET BIERLAND" (The Land of Beer).