For hundreds of years, monasteries in Europe have brewed beer. And now a monastery in Leicestershire has become the first one in England to do so since the Reformation.
When the Cistercian monks (known as Trappists) at Mount St Bernard Abbey, near Coleville, realized that dairy farming was no longer economically viable and closed their farm and sold their cows, they needed to come up with another way to support themselves. So they decided to brew beer.
After visiting the eleven Trappist monasteries brewing beer in Europe and the US, the monks at Mount St Bernard engaged a Dutch master brewer as an advisor.
He cautioned against just copying the style of existing Trappist beers, but to create a unique style. The first English Trappist ale, Tynt Meadow, combines the traditions of the continental Trappist brewers with the traditions of English brewing, which is centred on Burton on Trent just 15 miles away.
The monks have received help in brewing from The Pheasantry Brewery in Nottinghamshire, the Charnwood Brewery in nearby Loughborough, the Heritage Brewery at the National Brewery centre in Burton on Trent, the Framework Brewery in Leicester, and the Unicorn Brewery in Stockport.
However, it’s unlikely that the monks will be supping much of their ale themselves – their day begins at 3.15 am and they go to bed at 8 pm.