Monks return to the beer!

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Benedictine monks have restored a tradition of monastic brewing with help from the Little Valley Brewery, Hebden Bridge.

Brewery owners Wim van der Spek and Sue Cooper worked with the brothers at Ampleforth Abbey to produce the ale - which has a kick at 7 per cent.

Monastic brewing disappeared with the dissolution of monastries under Henry VIII.

The new russet-coloured Abbey Beer uses the methods of modern Trappist breweries in Belgium with knowledge from the 17th century when English Benedictines, living in exile in France, brewed and sold ale.

Little Valley brew the ale and it’s known as an Abbey Beer rather than a monastic one brewed by the monks themselves.

Wim is a Dutch brewer and he visited Trappist breweries in the Low Countries to study recipes and methods of production and was accompanied by Fr Wulstan, procurator at Ampleforth.

Modern brewing methods have been linked into the recipe from a monastery at Dieulouard near Nancy in Lorraine.

English Benedictines settled there after fleeing to France in 1608 and they built a brewery to support their pastoral work.

Little Valley’s brew is classed as a “Double” beer in the Trappist tradition of producing beers in rising order of strength - single, double and triple.

It is produced with pale and wheat malts and the colour comes from three darker malts - chocolate, crystal and Munich. Soft brown sugar, another Trappist tradition is also used.

The two hops, Northern Brewer from Germany and Savinjski Goldings from Slovenia are used along with yeast from Belgium.

Those who have sampled the beer - available from July - describe it as having a spicy and peppery aroma from the hops, backed by roasted grain, chocolate and sultana fruit.

The monks have produced their own cider and cider brandy for several years and have said they may consider moving the brewing operation to the abbey.

Abbey spokesman Sean McFetrich, said: “Working in conjunction with Little Valley Brewery we are extremely happy with this unique Abbey Beer that has been created from our traditional recipe which was first used in France.

“We believe we will be the only UK monastery involved in the production and commercial selling of its own beer and are delighted to be reinvigorating the tradition of monastic brewing.”