They say Jesus turned water into wine, but a group of Catholic monks in Italy are turning water into beer.
Before you get ahead of yourself,
these monks aren’t creating beer through miracles (other than the
miracle of brewing).
They are, however, making a Belgian Blonde Ale and a Belgian Dark Ale with a back story that few breweries can match.
The brewery, which goes by the name Birra Nursia, is located in the
Monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy.
A painting of the Virgin
Mary sitting atop barley hangs over the thick wooden doors.
monastery men with shaved heads and beards — St. Benedict style — brew,
bottle and package the beer. Many of the men are from America, coming
from Texas, South Carolina and Connecticut.
There you have it: American Catholic monks brewing Belgian beer in
Italy. It’s a set-up as good as any “walks into a bar” joke, but it’s
real, and you can get on a waiting list via the Birra Nursia website to try the beer for yourself.
“It is a drink which isn’t really necessary, but it brings a bit of
joy to the hearts of those who drink it,” Father Benedict Nivakoff, one
of the monastery men and brewers, told Catholic News Agency. “We take as our motto a line from Psalm 106: ‘ut laetificat cor,’ that the heart might be gladdened.”
Belgian-style beers have been brewed in monasteries for centuries.
Initially, the beer from Birra Nursia served as a supplement for the
monks while they fasted during Lent, when the monks only eat one meal a
Drinking down the good stuff gives the monks a dose of protein,
B vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. Oh yeah, and a healthy buzz —
the blonde is 6 percent alcohol and the dark is around 10. There aren’t
enough nutrients to completely replace food, but it they doesn’t hurt
and takes some of the edge off of eating so little.
The monastery opened in 2000 and the monks started selling beer to
outsiders three years ago.
The brewery, which was inaugurated by the
Catholic Church in a public ceremony, can make 10 barrels of beer at a
Each batch makes around 3,000 bottles, which are filled with 25
ounces of blonde or dark ale.
“We’ve sold out our inventory pretty much since day one,” Nivakoff told CNA. “We had to expand our plant after a year.”
Since March, Americans have been able to order online and have the
beer shipped to them.
There’s even a club, cunningly called the
“Brewmonks’ Club,” where you can pledge to buy a six-pack of bottles
Each Brewmonks member also gets insider knowledge via
newsletter about brewing life in the monastery.
Brew on brew monks.
A good drink with a solid backstory is something we can all raise a glass to.