Tag Archives: Catholic Church

Authentic Trappist ale to be brewed in U.S. for first time

authentic-trappist-logo_350 x 402Long-time readers of my blog know that I am a bit of a nut for Belgian beers. Top among the list of my favorite Belgian beers are those that come from Belgian monasteries like Chimay, Rochefort, and Westvleteren. These are known as Trappist ales, they are certified and approved by the Catholic Church and are the only beers allowed to carry the Authentic Trappist Product logo. This logo provides certain assurances to consumers that the brew is made to strict standards.

Up until recently, all Trappist beers were brewed in Europe, primarily Belgium where there are six breweries. But, The Netherlands and Austria also host a Trappist brewery each with a second brewery under development in The Netherlands as well. Never has certified Trappist ale been produced outside of Europe until now. But, on December 11, 2013, the International Trappist Association in Brussels, Belgium announced that Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass. Will become the first American brewery to be designated Authentic Trappist.

“At a meeting yesterday of the International Trappist Association in Brussels, the Spencer Trappist Ale was awarded the ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ designation,” François de Harenne, Commercial Director of the Orval Trappist brewery, said, “The decision was made after several controls made on the premises during the last weeks. We also were lucky enough to taste the beer.”

According to the association’s official website (;

A “Trappist” has to satisfy a number of strict criteria proper to this logo before it may bear this name:

  1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
  2. The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life
  3. The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture.  The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.  Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.

While the brewery is still under construction, some information has made it out including the style of beer and its flavor profile. According to the label that will appear on the bottles, Spencer Trappist Ale has an alcohol content of 6.5 percent and is “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.”

Output for the brewery will be limited. According to zoning commission minutes from Spencer, the brewery intends to produce one batch of beer per day, four days per week. The eventual output is expected to reach 10,000 barrels per year.


Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Beer News, Beer Styles


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Theology and brews not such an odd combination

theology on tapTo many, theology and a corner tavern may seem to be strange bedfellows. But, to members of the Diocese of Saint Augustine Youth & Young Adult Ministries the Mudville Grille is a perfect place to conduct their Theology on Tap series of lectures. The talks feature local theological speakers that are noted for their knowledge, passion, and spirituality. It just so happens that they will be speaking from a pulpit that is slightly unorthodox, but none-the-less effective.

The program got its beginnings back in 1981 when Father John Cusick, resident of Old St. Patrick’s Parish and director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Young Adult Ministry along with Father Jack Wall decided to do something to try to reach more young adults. The priests wanted to act on comments that they had received from a college graduate who was “was concerned about his personal identity and finding the meaning of life.”

An article on the Catholic website in the St. Anthony’s Messenger section describes Father Cusick as, “quick-witted, very funny but deadly serious—particularly when it comes to young-adult ministry.

“My fear is that contemporary Catholicism is one built on function without form. The function is getting the job done, getting the children educated, getting the sacraments ministered, making sure there are enough ministers on Sunday and weekend Masses and all that, but the form is missing,” Father John said in the article.

His concern was that young adults were becoming disenfranchised from the church. Bringing ministry to the places where young adults hang out shows those lost parishioners that the church does care about them and is willing to come to them, on their turf.

Topics of discussion in the series have run the gamut from the sacraments to religious fundamentalism to stem-cell research. In Jacksonville this year the topics have been on the documents of the Vatican II. On February 5 a discussion of “Dei Verbum” commonly known as the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation was held. Then, on February 12, Bishop Felipe J. Estévez presented a lecture on “Gaudium et spes,” known as the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. And yet to come is a presentation on “Ad gentes divinitus,” the Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity.

All of the topics are presented as attendees enjoy casually sip cold brews and munch wings, burgers, and salads. But, lest you think that the talks are done without the blessing of the church’s higher ups, consider that in October of 2006 Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington responded to applause at a Theology on Tap gathering by saying, “That’s the warmest welcome I’ve ever received in a pub … That’s the first welcome I’ve ever received in a pub.”

Sure, there are detractors. There are those who think that the Catholic Church has no business allowing priests, bishops, and even archbishops to speak in bars, taverns, and restaurants on such weighty subjects as salvation and the church’s position on the right to life. But, Father Cusick would disagree and he has the statistics to back it up; at the first session of his brain child, nearly 250 young adults showed up. That is an impressive number that seems to show young adults are more than willing to listen and interact if it is on their turf.

The next Theology on Tap gathering will be held at Mudville Grille, 3105 Beach Blvd. The cost is $5, food and drink may be purchased on an individual basis. All attendees must be 21 or older. For more information you may contact the Diocese of St. Augustine at: (904) 262-3200, ext. 112 or email

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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Beer, Events


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