Mount St Bernard Abbey, in Coalville, Leicestershire, has officially become the 12th Trappist brewery in the world, after being accepted as members of the International Trappist Association, and brewed for the first time on 17 March.
The monks at the Abbey are brewing on a 20 hectolitre kit, producing 2,000 litres of beer from each brew, which will be bottled and sold nationally via a distributor and locally in the shop on site. The beer, which does not yet have a name, will have a strength of 7.4% ABV.
When researching the project, the monks at the abbey visited a number of Belgian brewing abbey’s - including St-Sixtus, Westvleteren, West Flanders, widely considered to be one of the best breweries in the world - and trialled their recipes on a 20 litre kit at the abbey in Leicestershire.
Particular unique product
Fr Joseph, one of the monks, described the first brew as “the culmination of five long and hard years of work and deliberation”.
Writing on the abbey’s Facebook page, he said: “All our advisors cautioned against just copying the style of an already existing Trappist beer; what we had to do was to create our own particular unique product.
“This, we hope, is what we have done, creating the first English Trappist Ale, marrying the traditions of the Continental Trappist brewers with the venerable traditions of English brewing, centred on Burton-on-Trent, just 15 miles away from us.”
Profits from the sales of the beer will be used to maintain the abbey and the monk’s way of life, as The Trappist Association dictates. An authentic Trappist product must be: produced within the walls or in the vicinity of the monastery; in accordance with the direction of the community and in accordance with their rule; and for the benefit of the community and/or their social work.
Top fermented, unpasteurised beers
The name ‘Trappist’ originates from the La Trappe Abbey, in Soligny-la-Trappe, Normandy, France, where a movement broke away from the Cistercian Order in the 17th century.
Today, various Trappist monasteries around the world produce products as varied as wine, beer, oil, bread, honey, cheese and cosmetics.
Prior to Mount St Bernard Abbey, there were 11 breweries in the world producing Trappist beer. Eight of these are based in Belgium and the Netherlands, while the remaining three hail from Austria, the US and Italy.
Trappist is not a categorical style of beer, but many Trappist beers share common characteristics, such as being top fermented, unpasteurised and bottle conditioned.