Number Nine Is In The USA
by Bob Montemurro
If you need to find me on almost any Tuesday I'm at my local pub,
The Tap Room. Why that particular day of the week? Easy, it's their
ongoing promo called Trappist Tuesday. On that one day special deals
abound on some of the finest beers in the world., none of which is
made in the United States. However now we in theUSA can proudly
say we have our very own Trappist beer! It's Spencer Trappist Ale,
from St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.
The beer officially became an Authentic Trappist Product in late
December 2013 when the International Trappist Association in
Brussels, awarded Spencer Trappist Ale the ‘Authentic Trappist
Product’ designation.” It will become the first and only American
brewery to be manned exclusively by Trappist monks.
To earn the Trappist label isn't easy. First and foremost the beer must
be brewed inside an abbey and under the supervision of Trappist
monks. That alone has become a problem due to the scarcity of
people willing to enter a religious vocation. Indeed that has become a
global crisis for the Catholic church. Recently many monasteries in
Europe have been closed while rumors about the demise of some of
the brewing monasteries abound.
The beer, which will officially be labeled “The Spencer Trappist Ale,” is to
be brewed exclusively at the monastery. Founded in 1950 by
members of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance,
commonly known as Trappists, Saint Joseph’s Abbey has roots that
reach far back to monks who fled France during its revolution at the
end of 18th century.
Today, there are nearly 180 Trappist monasteries around the world.
But of those 180 monasteries, only eight are also active breweries, with
the recent addition of Saint Joseph’s Abbey increasing the list to nine.
America will be one of only four countries to host this type of brewery,
which requires, according to the International Trappist Association:
1.) The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery,
either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
2.) The brewery must be of secondary importance within the
monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a
monastic way of life.
3.) The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The
income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance
of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity
for social work and to help persons in need.
If all those requirements are met, then the beer will receive the
"Authentic Trappist Product"(ATP) label. Of the eight breweries that
currently hold the coveted ATP insignia (Achel, Chimay, La Trappe,
Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle and Stift Engelszell) not a
single one exists outside of Europe – with one in the Netherlands, six in
Belgium and one in Austria.
Trappist breweries have yet to leave Europe. Until now.
Best wishes to all for a most happy and joyous New Year!
I invite everyone to send me their own columns about beer. I'll select
the best and publish them here. Last year not only saw a record
number of submissions but those picked proved to be some of the most
interesting and informative writing on any beer around. My sincere and
special thanks to all of you! So join in and get writing.
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