Beer probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when you think of the word “monastery” – but since receiving official recognition on Dec. 10, Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., will become the first American brewery to be manned exclusively by Trappist monks.This makes nine Trappist monasteries altogether, scattered now across four countries and two continents. In addition to St. Joseph's/Spencer, there are the Belgian Trappists (Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle) and one each in the Netherlands (La Trappe) and Austria (Stift Engelszell). It looks like they're going for just one beer, characterized by the monks this way: “Inspired by traditional refectory ales brewed by monks for the monks’ table. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued Trappist ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness.” I assume that means Belgian-like, but it's hard to say. (The Austrian and Dutch monasteries make Belgian-style beers.)
The beer, labeled “The Spencer Trappist Ale,” is to be brewed exclusively within the walls of 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.
Be interesting to see what it tastes like.
Update. In case you're not a comment-reader, note that two breweries were approved by the Trappists on the same day. The other is the second Dutch abbey, Zundert. That makes an even ten. Huzzah!