Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monks and Beer in America

From NPR:
The monastery became one of only in the world — and the first one outside Europe — in December.

"I've only come to understand the beer world [in] getting involved in this, but apparently, the Trappists have a reputation for quality in their products," says Damian Carr, the abbot of St. Joseph's.

That's a bit of an understatement. Many other beers bearing the label are regulars on lists of the world's best.

In some ways, the monks at St. Joseph's might seem like odd candidates to open up a world-class brewery. They don't get out much — "we're not in parishes, we don't teach schools, we don't go to the missions," the abbot says.

What they are is self-sufficient. For more than 60 years, the monks at St. Joseph's have supported themselves by making religious garments and preserves, including jams and jellies.

Still, that wasn't enough, so several years ago, they started looking into brewing.

But there was a problem: The monks knew nothing about brewing — or even drinking — beer. So, one of the monks called up Martha Paquette, the co-founder of in Sommerville, Mass., for help.

"They'd maybe drunk some Budweiser," Paquette says. "So, we had a lot of fun with the monks introducing them to hops, dark beers, richer, stronger beers."

Learning to drink beer was the easy part. To learn to brew it, the abbey sent two of its monks to train at Belgian monasteries and hired a professional Belgian brewer. (Read more.)

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