Monk-ey Business

Exciting news for British beer enthusiasts this week as a group of Cistercian monks from Mount St Bernard Abbey in Coalville, Leicestershire are set to release the country’s first officially recognised Trappist beer since the Reformation.

Incorporating Trappist tradition of being a ‘strong, dark ale’ while introducing a bit of English character, Tynt Meadow is described as mahogany-coloured, with an aroma carrying hints of dark chocolate, liquorice, and rich fruit flavours. The balanced flavours of dark chocolate, pepper, and fig are said to ‘leave a warm and dry finish on the palate.’

Brewed with English barley and hops, using an English strain of yeast, it is twice-fermented – first in the tank, second in the bottle – and on the monks’ recommendation, should be stored in a cool, dark, quiet place.

The 7.4% ale takes its name from the nearby plot of land on which monks first established a small church back in 1835.  According to records it was after this time that these 19th century monks first brewed their own beer for personal consumption.

Drawing on this historical connection, today’s monks set about reviving the abbey’s beer-making tradition after coming to the realisation that their previous source of income, dairy farming, was financially inviable for their needs.

In March 2017 the monastery became a member of the International Trappist Association, and just one of 12 monasteries in the world (6 of which are in Belgium) to have permission to call itself a Trappist brewery. A little over a year later, the fruits of their labour have been welcomed by experts lucky enough to snag a preview. Renowned beer writer Roger Protz, told the BBC the beer was “seriously nice” and should generate “enormous interest” from beer drinkers.

In keeping with Trappist values, every stage of the process, from brewing through to packaging, takes place within the abbey and is carried out by the monks. Even the labels are their own design, based on a twelfth-century Cistercian script developed by an early monk of the community. The label, along with the brewery’s logo, has been sketched using a quill, with the latter’s design inspired by the lancet windows of their church. 

The beer goes on sale Monday 9th July, with proceeds used to fund the monks’ living expenses and support charitable commitments. It can be purchased from UK distributor James Clay, as well as the abbey’s very own on-site shop – easier than trekking all the way to Belgium!

Photo credit: Bier! magazine

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