Leicester

Leicestershire monks brew UK's first Trappist beer

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Media captionLeicestershire's brew has impressed beer connoisseurs

Monks in Leicestershire have become the first in the UK to brew an officially recognised Trappist beer.

Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Coalville, is only the world's 12th to get permission to call itself a Trappist brewery.

The beer, Tynt Meadow, comes in at 7.4% ABV.

Named after the meadow in which monks originally settled on the site in 1835, it will be on sale at the abbey and beer shops next month.

Image caption The beer was named after the meadow where the abbey is based in

The monks began looking at opening a brewery in 2013, after closing down their dairy farm when it became economically unviable.

Brothers visited other Trappist breweries - whose beers are regarded as among the finest in the world - as part of their research, and conducted their first experimental brew on St Lutgard's Day, a saint famous for surviving on bread and beer during fasts.

Image caption The monks first arrived at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in 1835
Image caption The monks used to run a dairy farm on the site of the abbey

Dom Erik Varden, abbot of Mount Saint Bernard, said he was "very relieved" to see the brewery up and running, and hoped it could help them extend their community work.

"Beer is a good, honest, nurturing drink - our Belgian friends said more than once it should be liquid bread and not coloured water, and that's what we're aiming to live up to," he said.

Image caption Nearly a year was spent on test brews before the monks moved onto a bigger kit
Image caption Father Michael says he is currently brewing about four days every month, with much of the rest of his time devoted to the brewery's upkeep

What is Trappist beer?

  • According to the International Trappist Association, the 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 12 Trappist breweries are based in Belgium, with two from The Netherlands and one each in Austria, Italy 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 caption Leading beer writer Roger Protz praised the beer while drinking it in Tynt Meadow, the field that inspired its name

Roger Protz, one of the country's leading beer writers, said the beer was "seriously nice" and should generate "enormous interest" from beer drinkers.

"It's really very exciting - this is the first beer brewed by monks [in England] since the Reformation," he said.

Image caption The beer will be sold at the abbey and in beer shops from July

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