Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fire in a Brewery and some thoughts of arriving at Insurable Value !

Read of a news of fire in a Belgian Abbey – now the following at first sight might seem irreverent but are closely associated with that news.  The abbey in southern Belgium was founded in the 13th century and the monks have brewed beer there since the end of the 19th century.

Amongst the alcoholic beverages, beer is the most consumed and arguably the oldest, it is consumed more after water and tea.   Beer is  a concoction made  by brewing and fermenting malts and other cereal grains (many of you would know it better).  Read that mention of beer is there in Hamurabhi law also.   In Western countries, drinking of beer is a culture associated with social traditions.  Again, read that there is something called trappist beer which is top fermented and mainly bottle conditioned.   There reportedly are less than 200 Trappist monasteries, of which 7 produce beer of which 6 are in Belgium.  These are authorised to label their beers with the Authentic Trappist product logo, considered as a gold standard for connoisseurs of the drink.   Trappists, are a Roman Catholic religious order of contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict.

A fire was reported in a 13th-Century Belgian abbey famous for its brewery.  It took 70 fire fighters to put out the blaze.  Though the fire caused some damages, the monks could escape the vats survived intact.  It was the abbey at Remy-Rochefort, famous for its Rochefort beer.    Rochefort is famous for strong beers.

This brewery produces three beers of which Rochefort 6 (red cap, brown)  an intense taste of caramel, fruit, and hints of raisins is only brewed about once per year, representing approximately 1% of total beer production, thus is quite difficult to obtain.   There are approximately 15 monks resident at the monastery. The monks are very secretive about the brewing process and the brewery is not open to the public, therefore much of the information publicly known about the brewery comes from only a few sources.

Like many strong Belgian beers, those produced at Rochefort age well and can be cellared for at least five years whilst maintaining quality. Each of these beers is brewed to the same recipe, with the only difference being the alcoholic content.  The water for the beers is drawn from a well located inside the monastery walls. As with all other Trappist breweries, the beer is only sold in order to financially support the monastery and some other good causes.

Interestingly, it is the recipe or the preparatory formula that is the founding success for most edible items including soft drinks.  Most of the soft drink manufacturers get their flavour by the base water, as soft drinks trace their history to mineral water found in natural springs.  From time immemorial, there is belief that bathing and drinking natural spring / mineral water could cure many diseases and keep people healthy..

The non-alcoholic beverages known as soft drinks typically contain water, often carbonated water and flavouring agent with additives of sugar or fructose.  For diet drinks, there would be sugar substitutes which could be stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame pottasium and saccharin.

Though this could be common stuff, I could not earlier associate Monasteries with Brewery and as an Insurer, the immediate reaction was how it would have been possible to reckon the value at risk, if at all this Unit had proposed for an Insurance coverage – everything including the quantity, the ingredients, the source and its value would not be made available thought the cost of the final product would be. Well paradoxes are everywhere !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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