UK Trappist beer-brewing monks struggling with demand

Leicestershire Trappist brewery
Image caption The strong dark ale was named after the meadow where the abbey is based

The only monks in the UK to brew an officially recognised Trappist beer say they are unable to satisfy demand.

The brewery at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Coalville, Leicestershire, was set up one year ago.

Since then, it has produced about 30,000 bottles of Tynt Meadow but there have been worldwide requests for more.

The brewery is one of only 14 in the world allowed to call itself a Trappist brewery – where all the money raised is used to fund the monastery.

Image caption The Mount Saint Bernard Abbey brewery was set up after the dairy farm failed to make enough money

The beer – named after the meadow where monks settled in 1835 – is sold at the abbey shop and by some local retailers, but about a third is sold through a distribution company. It is proving particularly popular in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The monks also drink it themselves on a Sunday.

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Media captionLeicestershire’s brew has impressed beer connoisseurs

Father Joseph Delargy said: “We haven’t had any difficulty in selling it. What we produce, we can sell.

“We have a pattern of regular production and regular sales so now, after this first year, we’re in a position where we’re quite happy.”

What is Trappist beer?

Image caption There are 14 Trappist breweries in the world – some also make other produce like honey, chocolate and cheese
  • According to the International Trappist Association, beer must be brewed within the abbey by the monks or under their supervision
  • The brewery’s activities must be secondary in importance to the monastery’s work and way of life
  • It should not be run as a profit-making venture, with funds going to fund the monks’ living expenses and grounds and to help charitable causes
  • Six of the 14 Trappist breweries are based in Belgium, two are in The Netherlands and there are one each in Spain, France, Austria, Italy, UK and the US
  • Some Trappist monasteries also make bread, cheese, chocolate and other products
  • Other alcoholic products made by different orders of monks include French liqueur Chartreuse and controversial tonic wine Buckfast, which is made in Devon

Image copyright Nick Hamer
Image caption The beer is sold at the Abbey shop as well as by some local retailers and a beer distribution company

Abbott of the monastery, Erik Varden, said they had been approached by retailers around the world wanting to stock the beer including in the US, Russia and New Zealand.

However, with the monks’ way of life having to take priority, he said they were “unable to satisfy the demand”.

He hopes enough money can be raised from beer sales over the next two years to replace a leaky roof on a section of the abbey.

Image copyright Nick Hamer
Image caption Nick Hamer had a “life changing” seven-night stay at the monastery while working on the documentary

A Leicester documentary maker is producing a film about the monks which he said covers “the transition of their lifestyle as farmers to brewers”. It is due to be released in autumn.

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