Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom
The monks at Mount Angel have become part of a 1,500-year-old monastic tradition, brewing artisanal beer.
The vision for a Benedictine Brewery at the Abbey has been in formation for some years. After much planning, consulting, brewing and constructing, it is emerging as a reality. The Benedictine Brewery and the St. Michael Taproom are scheduled to open this summer.
Brewers, beer writers, and craft beer judges captivated by the vision of a monastic brewery have volunteered their time, brewing suggestions, and business advice. A community timber raising, which took place last November, was an inspiring example of the communal nature of the project. The all-day affair involved more than 100 volunteers – including monks, seminarians, and staff from the Abbey, as well as members of the local town of Mt. Angel. The only break in the day's efforts was to gather for a prayer service in the brewery structure at noon followed by a traditional barbecue lunch. In the course of the brisk Saturday, what started as a bare concrete slab quickly became a structural frame with building blocks that defined the overall shape of the Brewery and Taproom. The frame was built from 14,000 board feet of Douglas fir harvested from the Abbey tree farm.
Fr. Martin Grassel, O.S.B., (shown in photo at top of page) is general manager of the brewery and has been at the Abbey since he started seminary there in 1995. Between duties as the Procurator (CFO) of the Abbey, he has been advancing his brewing and beer-tasting skills. Fr. Jacob Stronach, O.S.B., has been learning the trade by interning at a brewery in nearby Silverton. Other monks lend their hands on days of brewing or bottling.
One of only three breweries in the United States owned and operated by monks, this Benedictine craft beer will use locally sourced hops grown on Abbey land and water from the monks' well. These include the Brewery's flagship beer, Black Habit, which has received an enthusiastic reception from the brewing community and beer lovers. Until the official opening of the Brewery and Taproom, cases of Black Habit and other Benedictine brews can be purchased in the Abbey Bookstore.
The Brewery and Taproom, situated on the lower south side of the Abbey Hilltop, will be the authentic place to gather and enjoy Benedictine craft beer with a light snack. Fr. Martin's vision for the Taproom will help all to understand why:
To say it should be a place of hospitality and welcome and family-friendliness would be too shallow. It should be a place where people are more than just welcome: a place where they will feel blessed, where they will feel the peace of the Abbey, where they will encounter faith in an inviting and non-threatening way, where they will want to come back because of the spiritual atmosphere.
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