The relationship between monks and beer dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. That’s when Trappist monks started brewing their own beer to be self-sufficient and the rest is history. Today there are nine Trappist monk breweries in Europe. One of them, Westvleteren Brewery, even held the top spot on BeerAdvocate.com for a while. Why do Europeans get to have all the monk beer to themselves? It’s the U.S.’s turn to get a taste of this divinely inspired beer.
At St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA, the Trappist monks’ days consist of prayer, gardening, pottery and now beer. For the past sixty years they’ve supported themselves by making homemade jams and jellies but have decided to hop up the abbey by constructing a 36,000 square foot eco-friendly stainless-steel brewery.
To prepare, St. Joseph’s sent a handful of monks over to Belgium to learn the tricks of the trade from other monastic brewers. They came back with advice, recipes and a way to grow barley in their ten-acre field that would support the brewery.
St. Joseph’s will make America only the fourth country in the world to be home of authentic Trappist beer. Their first release, Spencer Trappist Ale, will be available throughout Massachusetts in 11.2 oz. bottles before making any moves out of state. You better bet we’ll be making a trip to MA sometime soon.