Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire is to become the first UK monastery to produce Trappist Beer.
There are 176 Trappist monasteries in the world and just 12 produce beer. Six are found in Belgium, two are from the Netherlands and there is one each in Austria, Italy, the US and now in the UK.
Since its founding in 1835, the Cistercian abbey has largely gained its income from dairy farming. Yet, developments in modern agriculture and the low price of milk made it hard to make any significant revenues from the farm.
So, in 2013, the monks decided to produce beer and asked advice from the International Trappist Association. They also received tips from several brewers in the local area.
A spokesman from the Monastery said: “We visited other Trappist monks in Belgium and Norcia, Italy, to observe their brewing methods. They advised us to give a unique English flavour to our beers, and to avoid imitating the Belgian taste”. According to a Belgian Trappist saying, “beer should be liquid bread, not coloured water.”
In 2017-18 monks relocated their refectory, kitchen, and laundry to provide space for the installation of a new artisanal brewery. All the production process, from brewing to bottling, is carried out by the monks themselves. There are currently 26 monks in residence at the Abbey.
According to historical records, the monks at Mount St Bernard Abbey produced beer in the 19th century. Several visitors left accounts praising the quality of the beer, but the original recipe has been lost over the years.
According to the rules of the International Trappist Association, beer must be brewed by the monks themselves or under their supervision. The revenues from beer production should only be used to cover the monk’s expenses and to pay for charitable activities. The brewery should be a secondary activity for monks, who have to continue to fulfil their humble way of life.
The beer, called Tynt Meadow after the location of the monastery (a Trappist naming tradition), is made with English barley and hops, and even an English strain of yeast. It will be sold at the Abbey from 9 July and will be distributed in the UK by specialist beer distributors, James Clay.