It’s safe to say the public is familiar with the usual themes and formats of beer ads—beaches, parties, rivers, mountains and, in one case, a skateboarder lazily making his way down a San Diego street.
So you may be surprised to see a thrice-burned-down abbey and a monk risking his life as the theme of an ale ad. The new work from Grimbergen, a Belgian brand that has a licensing agreement with Carlsberg for the international market, is straight out of Hollywood or Game of Thrones.
From the jump, you know this is not your typical beer ad. It reveals the story of the Norbertine order of monks who brewed their beer for the locals outside Brussels starting in 1128. The fathers of the order passed on their knowledge of beer brewing for generations, as the abbey endured wars and the French Revolution, burning down three times, only to be rebuilt.
Directed by Rune Milton and created by UncleGrey in Denmark, the film packs a lot into its close to 90 seconds, as we follow a young monk stirring up the strength to brave the flames and make his way to the library to save the secret recipes. Interspersed with flashbacks, we see the phoenix guiding him—which explains the mythical beast’s symbolism and the fact that the brand is referred to as “the beer of the phoenix.” While the story of monks saving beer recipes is true, the epic treatment and creative license of the ad gives it the intended gravity.
It’s a fitting and powerful tribute to a story that may not be well-known to the beer-drinking public. It also serves to highlight the monks themselves, who are poised to start brewing their beer again at the abbey, directly from the 12th-century recipes that made them famous.