The label of “Trappist” is among the most exclusive designations of beer worldwide, with only 11 breweries around the globe qualifying for the title.
But that number is about to become 12, with the Cistercian monks at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire gaining recognition as the first Trappist brewery in U.K. history.
The Leicestershire monks, who previously tried their luck at dairy farming, began exploring the idea of brewing beer in 2013 after they closed their dairy for monetary reasons. Inspired by the brew monks of Norcia in Italy, the U.K. monks visited the Norcia brewery a number of times and decided to move forward with a beer of their own.
After visiting other brew abbeys and conducting five years of extensive research, the monks opted to brew Belgian beer and began experimenting on the feast of St. Lutgard — a saint who was known for surviving on bread and beer during fasts.
“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,” said Dom Erik Varden, abbot of Mount Saint Bernard, according to the BBC.
The monks’ first beer is called Tynt Meadow after the location where the monks originally settled in 1835. With a 7.4 ABV, the beer will officially go on sale July 9 at the abbey and be distributed throughout the U.K. by James Clay.
The U.K. monks are a Cistercian monastic community of the Strict Observance in rural Leicestershire. According to their website, their mission is to “affirm a life of work and prayer; of radical discipleship and fidelity to the Gospel, the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Constitutions and Statues of the Cistercian order.”
The official, trademarked “Authentic Trappist Product” label indicates that a beer meets a number of exclusive standards.
According to the International Trappist Association, the beer is required to be brewed within the abbey grounds by the monks or under their supervision, “with business practices proper to the monastic way of life.” The brewery must not take priority over the monastery’s primary work and way of life, and should be non-profit. Any funds gained through the beer will be used for the monk’s living expenses, charitable causes, or for upkeep of the monastery itself.
According to the Mount Saint Bernard’s website, the abbey has been accepted as members of the International Trappist Association, but they have not officially received the “Authentic Trappist Product” designation. They are expected to obtain the label in “a matter of time.”
In addition to beers from the 12 breweries, the Trappist label has also been applied to a handful of cheese products from France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well as baked goods, chocolate, honey and jams from another order near Tilburg in the Netherlands.
Well-known beer critic Roger Protz called the Tynt Meadow beer “seriously nice,” and said it will be of “enormous interest” to those who enjoy beer, according to the BBC.
“It’s really exciting — this is the first beer brewed by monks [in England] since the Reformation,” Protz said.