UK to get Trappist brewery?

A Cistercian abbey in the UK has been granted permission to build a brewery which could make it just the 12th Trappist brewery in the world if accredited by the Trappist Association.

The monks of Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire have received approval from the North West Leicestershire District Council to convert part of their monastery into a brewery, to replace a dairy farm which is no longer in operation.

Still in relatively early stages of planning, it is understood that once the brewery is built and operational it will be run by the monks and those who live at the abbey and any profit from sales of the beer will be used to maintain the abbey and pay the monks’ living expenses.

It is a model operated by other monastic communities around the world today and indeed has been how many communities have sustained themselves for centuries.

If the brewery is accredited by the International Trappist Association it will become just the 12th monastery in the world to produce Trappist beer and the only one in the UK.

The Trappist Association defines an authentic Trappist product as one which is: 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.

Today various Trappist monasteries around the world produce products as varied as wine, beer, oil, bread, honey, cheese and cosmetics.

Eleven monasteries produce beer, the eight most famous of which are based in the Low Countries, six in Belgium and two in the Netherlands.

Monasteries in Austria, the US and Italy also produce Trappist beer, while the Austrian and Italian communities with monasteries in Germany and Spain also produce wine.

The Trappists, or more properly the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, are an off-shoot of the Cistercian order, which itself branched off from the Benedictines in the 11th century.

Formed at the Abbey of Cîteaux in Burgundy in 1098, the Cistercians quickly established themselves throughout Europe and their extremely strict adherence to the Rule of St Benedict (‘Ora et labora’) meant they valued manual work in the fields.

Especially in their base in Burgundy they became renowned for their viticultural work and Cistercian communities owned what are now famous vineyards such as Clos de Vougeot and Clos de Tart and helped lay the groundwork for the cru system.

The Trappist order gradually formed from a movement that started at the French abbey of La Trappe in the 17th century and broke away fully in 1892.

Once up and running, Mount St Bernard will not be the only beer-producing abbey in the country though as the Benedictine community at Ampleforth in Yorkshire revived the long tradition of monastic brewing in the British Isles in 2012; brewing the first abbey beer since the Reformation.

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