You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Saturday 4 July 2015

Britain’s first abbey beer since the Reformation unveiled

20th June, 2012 by Rupert Millar

Ampleforth Abbey has unveiled the UK’s first monastic beer in 450 years.

The North Yorkshire monastery produced the beer based on a recipe the monks picked up while in exile in France in the 17th century.

The 7% beer was produced with the help of Dutch brewer, Wim van der Spek from nearby Little Valley Brewery and he and Father Wulstan Peterburs visited several Trappist monasteries in the Low Countries to study production of similar beers there.

Van de Spek then combined these modern practices with details of the recipe for la bière anglaise from the abbey of Dieulouard in Lorraine where the community fled to in 1608.

Sean McFetrich, director of commercial operations at Ampleforth, explained to the drinks business that, “we researched quite significantly into how the beer was made and while we wanted to keep the brewing as local as possible we wanted someone who understood how the type of abbey beer we were trying to make is produced and Wim fitted that.

“We’re trying to develop our own style but it is very much based on Trappist beers. We think we’re the only UK monastery involved in brewing, there are many beers out there with monastic connections – Bishop’s Finger and so on – but we’re the only monastery actively involved, we believe.”

The beer is double fermented – with the second fermentation happening in bottle – and a tasting note from the 17th century described it as having “sparkled like Champagne”, which has of course led to notions that the English monks may have come into contact with their brother Benedictines in France, most notably Dom Pérignon.

The beer became so popular that it was served at the court of the Dukes of Lorraine and was given royal patents by Louis XIV and Louis XV. The monks fled back to England in 1789 with the start of the French Revolution and settled in Yorkshire in 1802 – hence the date on the label.

Hops used include Northern Brewer from Germany and Savinjski Goldings from Slovenia and while the yeast is from an unnamed monastery in Belgium, there are striking similarities with the ales produced by Rochefort in Wallonia.

The production of beer is not the first time the monks have ventured into alcohol production, having revitalised their apple orchards over recent years to produce award winning cider and cider brandy, which are sold in the abbey shop alongside a range of other products including honey, cakes and soaps.

Ampleforth Abbey and School

Self-sufficiency and support for the local community is key to the Rule of St Benedict which the monks follow, as is the doctrine of keeping the monks busy in their working as well as spiritual lives.

The money generated through sales of the beer will go towards the upkeep of the abbey.

The beer is due to go on sale in the abbey’s shop in July and it is hoped will find outlets further afield, although the aim is to keep sales local for now.

Fetrich explained: ‘We’re looking at the people who buy our cider at the moment so farm shops, pubs, local restaurants and hotels and it’s also going to be in a local supermarket called Booth’s from July.

“Tesco has also said it’s interested and may take it on from November but again only in its Yorkshire stores. We’re trying to keep it regional to start with and then see how it goes from there.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

Top 10 new craft beers

With new beers coming onto the market all the time, it can be difficult to keep more...

Coors Light heads home

Sometimes, the route to excellence is a process of devolution rather than more...

Beer festival in China’s Muslim area angers 'exiles'

In China’s predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, exiled groups of Uighur more...

Marketing and eCommerce Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive, includes equity options

The week in pictures

Pub-friendly pooches, Kevin Spacey and a one-off tasting of Achaval Ferrer more...

Bar launches festival-themed cocktail list

Matt Whiley, the liquid alchemist in charge of Peg + Patriot, the bar at the more...

Venezuela faces beer drought

Venezuela could soon entirely run out of beer as workers at the country's more...

Social Media Editor

Competitive

World's best beer and wine festivals

Forget Glastonbury, these are the festivals you should be making a beeline for more...

Top 10 Hong Kong craft beer bars

Anyone looking to quench their thirst with a ginseng microbrew should more...

Carlsberg creates beer-shampoo

Danish brewer Carlsberg has launched a new range of men’s grooming products more...

Global Wine Buyer

London, United Kingdom

Competitive

US wine brand hopes to ape craft beer success

A wine brand from California is hoping to ape craft beer’s success in the UK more...

UK customs seize 550,000 litres of alcohol

More than 550,000 litres of illegal beer, wine and spirits have been seized by more...

English fizz attracts new deal

English sparkling wine producer Jenkyn Place has stepped up its ambitions by more...

Hatch Mansfield – Brand Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary

Wimbledon serves up English wine

Organisers of this year’s Wimbledon have decided to offer tennis fans English more...

Flavoured styles lead drinks NPD

A new report from Nielsen shows that flavoured variants are dominating more...

AB InBev invests $1.5bn in US

Brewing colossus Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced plans to invest over US$1 more...

UK market in growth as price increases slow

The latest figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association show that more...

Benevolent launches Ambassador drive

UK drinks trade charity The Benevolent is calling for volunteers from the trade more...

World's cheapest city for a beer revealed

The average price of a bottle of beer is £1.07 in Krakow and Kiev, making them more...

Digital and Communications Executive

£22,000-£26,000 dependent on experience

Chinese student builds house out of beer bottles

An engineering graduate and his father have built a two-storey house made out more...

Beck's forced to issue $50 refunds

Anyone that has bought a Beck's beer in the past four years could be entitled more...