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American Trappist Beer in MA

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by dawatts, May 21, 2012.

  1. dawatts

    dawatts Savant (285) Massachusetts Dec 27, 2006

    I did a few searches here and couldnt find any info on it so I figured I throw up what I came across. Apparently a Trappist brewery is in the works for the Abbey in Spencer, MA. It has been written up in several Zoning Board of Appeals minutes (11/2011) for the town and according to a friend's father, who has an inside scoop, it seems to be a go. Apparently a monk is coming over from Belgium to get the whole thing rolling and they are expected to be up to 10,000 barrels by year 5. I have no idea what the construction time frame is as apparently they need to expand by 43,000 feet. Also they will be converting 10 acres of farm land from hay production to hops and other ingredients.

    "Mr. Collette made a motion to grant a special permit to Cistercian Abbey of Spencer and
    Spencer Brewery, LLC, 167 North Spencer Road, Spencer, and approved the special permit with
    description of application, findings, and conditions as follows:
    Summary Description of Application: The Applicants propose to construct a building, not to
    exceed 43,560 square feet (footprint), adjacent to the existing business structures on the property
    located on Assessor’s Map 59, Parcel 1 and to manufacture, warehouse and distribute beer and/or
    ale under the name “The Spencer Brewery” with accessory offices related to that business. This
    property is located in the Rural Residential (RR) Zoning District. The Spencer Brewery, LLC
    (the “Brewery”) is a Massachusetts single member limited liability company whose sole member
    is the Cistercian Abbey of Spencer, Inc., aka St. Joseph’s Abbey (the “Abbey”). The managers
    in charge of operating the Brewery are all members of and monks at the Abbey."

    http://spencerma.gov/Pages/SpencerMA_ZBAMin/2011/ZBAMin110811.pdf
    http://spencerma.gov/Pages/SpencerMA_ZBAMin/2011/ZBAMin112211.pfd
    1000lbgrizzly and creepinjeeper like this.
  2. Well huh. Interesting idea, particularly if the monks are behind it. Find it a bit questionable to be building an abbey solely for brewing, but I suppose that's how things are going based on the Westvetleren bricks and such.

    If it's church approved, certainly be a sight to see for us folks who don't travel often.
  3. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Savant (465) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    Hallelujah
    GetMeAnIPA and josmickam like this.
  4. I'm very excited for this.
  5. dawatts

    dawatts Savant (285) Massachusetts Dec 27, 2006

    The Abbey has been there for 62 years. The monks currently make fruit preserves and will expand to beer.

    http://www.spencerabbey.org/
  6. CaptainTripps

    CaptainTripps Initiate (0) Oregon Aug 8, 2010

    As long as they make a Quad, I'm happy.
  7. I saw a blurb on this in the BA Magazine and I believe there was a projected Fall of 2013 opening date.
  8. Sounds very interesting!
  9. Seems like this idea has been bounced around for at least a decade, if not Spencer than at the other US Trappist Abbeys I'll be glad to see it finally come to fruition

    Wonder if this has anything to do with the recent complaints from Belgium re: non Trappist breweries in the US using "Trappist style"

    Also, Spencer Brewery is a fine name, but it sounds secular, I'm surprised they wouldn't go with St. Joseph



    ed - here's a link to the complaint I referenced, I think it came out a week or so ago
    http://www.trappist.be/index.cfm?WID=118&BriefID=13

    especially notable
    In hindsight I'm looking at it as "hey now that one of our American brother Abbeys are going to start brewing we need to address the use of "Trappist beer" in the US"
  10. Jason

    Jason Founder (1,300) Massachusetts Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    I buy their preserves on occasion, news about the potential brewery has been in the rumor mill for several years and the last year or so it seems to have had some movement / progress. Pretty sure Todd told me that Chimay is probably going to have a big hand in this, take that for what it is worth.
    Jake1605 and Stockfan42 like this.
  11. I posted about this about a year ago, I live in Spencer and the Abbey is pretty much right down the road from me. The monks that will be brewing studied for about a year if I remember correctly with Chimay. Barring any major setbacks, this is going to be happening.
  12. Oh, wow. Did not realize that about the town; thought Trappist orders were all non-US territory.
  13. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,410) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    We briefly made mention of this in BA mag not too long ago.

    I've met with the monks at the abbey, been privy to some of the development of this project and some of the monks on the project attended to our Belgian Beer Fest and joined the site for research purposes. The project has been in the works for many years; including consulting with all of the other Trappists breweries and several American brewers and distributors.

    The last time I talked to them it was at The Publick House (Monk's Cell) in Brookline, MA and the project was moving forward; they were meeting with Chimay.

    Wish I could say more, but we're waiting until we get an update and they're ready to go public. We hope to do a feature in BA mag when the time comes too.

    Interesting times for beer in Massachusetts ...
  14. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,410) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    Trappists are all over the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trappists
  15. Errto

    Errto Savant (305) Connecticut Oct 20, 2009

    Chimay, Westmalle, Westvleteren, Achel, and Rochefort are all names of towns. The actual monasteries are named things like Abbaye de Notre Dame de Scourmont (Chimay).

    As you mentioned, the fact that they'll get to use the Trappist mark is the big deal in terms of distinguishing themselves from an ordinary commercial brewery.
    Mavajoo and mschofield like this.
  16. This is pretty awesome.
  17. dawatts

    dawatts Savant (285) Massachusetts Dec 27, 2006

    Can't believe I missed the blurb in the mag. Awesome stuff. Thanks Todd.
  18. dawatts

    dawatts Savant (285) Massachusetts Dec 27, 2006

    Awesome. Thanks Jason.
  19. dawatts

    dawatts Savant (285) Massachusetts Dec 27, 2006

    Very cool info. I did search and nothing came up. Didn't mean to step on your older post.
  20. No worries man! I don't even remember what I posted haha. The more info that gets out the better though, can't wait to be drinking beer from these guys.
  21. dawatts

    dawatts Savant (285) Massachusetts Dec 27, 2006

    I agree with both of your points.:)
  22. mixylplik3

    mixylplik3 Aficionado (225) Maine Feb 21, 2007

    Nice to see another MA abbey get a shot at brewing Trappist beers after the Teresian Carmelite effort didn't pan out a few years back.
  23. Isnt there a Trappist brewery in New Mexico?
  24. Also, Dan Paquette of Pretty Things has been helping them get things rolling, and introducing them to the enigma that is the craft beer scene. I've been following this for a couple years now as well and have been waiting patiently for it (although I'm getting a little anxious now that things are finally moving).
    JrGtr likes this.
  25. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    So...um...does anyone there actually know how to brew? Good for them that they can use a trademark, but prayers don't make beer.
  26. Supposedly Dann Paquette from Pretty Things is helping them get things together, and Chimay is helping them with the whole brewing technique.
  27. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    Sure...but what is Spencer bringing to the table? Are they just going to hire a secular or Chimay brewmaster, or do they actually know something about beer (other than that you can sell it)?
  28. It is a monastary, but it's not associated with the Trappist order IIRC. Though they too are ramping production this year and next, in hopes of going national with their brews.
  29. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    That's the point.They're learning about beer. Or more precisely, they're learning about the brewing of beer. I would assume they know something about the other end of it; you don't just pull that sort of thing out of a hat and decide to put all kinds of money into the infrastructure, equipment, ingredients etc without having some idea of what's involved in the first place.
    Dann and the Chimay folks are teaching them about the ins and outs of actually making it. They will need to have a Brother be the brewmaster, else they won't be eligible for the Trappist label.
  30. Errto

    Errto Savant (305) Connecticut Oct 20, 2009

    Is that true? Jean Marie Rock certainly isn't a Brother. Or is he not "truly" the Brewmaster?
  31. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    If I'm wrong, someone please correct me. I'm fairly sure I read that to get the Trappist designation, the beer had to be made at the abbey, by the monks. I took that to mean the brewers, especially the brewmaster though it is acceptable to hire outsiders for other parts of the process ad business.
  32. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    http://www.trappist.be/en/pages/trappist-beers
    UncleJimbo likes this.
  33. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    @emmanths: thanks for that. I just got a few seconds and was about topost what I found, that it is eligible if brewed in the abbey and by the longs or UNDER THEIR SUPERVISION. So having a secular brewmaster is indeeds permitted.
  34. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY makes cheese, fudge and fruitcake. Ive thought for a while they need to get in the beer business too.
  35. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    I want to be the person in charge of "constantly monitoring" the beer coming out of Chimay, Westmalle, et al. I'm happy to do my best to make sure I don't suffer from small sample size errors!
    Zach136, JrGtr and Errto like this.
  36. commis

    commis Savant (330) Massachusetts Jul 21, 2009

    Exactly. And the Monks at St Josephs have been brewing beer for quite some time, I think the help they will recieve will be coaching on how to scale it up so dramatically.
  37. commis

    commis Savant (330) Massachusetts Jul 21, 2009

    Really Cool to see this out in the open now. St Josephs Abbey was, literally, my back yard growing up in Spencer. Lots of keg parties in that forest...
    They make a mean fruit preserve, and hopefully the beer will be mean as well!
  38. LambicKing

    LambicKing Advocate (650) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    ISO: first batch quad!
  39. This is awesome....Would love to see them make a drinkable blonde beer like Westvletern 6 and offer similar pricing as the trappists (when bought in their own country). I would even queue up outside the abbey in my car for a case or two...
    BedetheVenerable likes this.

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