Drinking in the monastery

Drinking in the monastery

2 1 month ago

Beer and monks? Definitely, it's a match made in heaven. Basically thanks to the monasteries there has been significant brewing tradition from the old days. Breweries functioned inside abbeys and the recipes were religiously guarded.

But how can beer and fasting go hand in hand in the monastery? According to the legend all that started with Francis of Paola who established the Order of Minims. His order's monks founded the first Paulaner brewery in Munich in 1634. They've lived by strict rules, including fasting and penitence but on the other hand, they've made damned good beer. When their beverage was ready to go, they've sent some to the pope in order to ask his permission about the consuming of this drink during fasting. Unfortunately (or fortunately? it's not that hard to tell now) then a travel from Münich to Rome lasted weeks and the delicious beer went bad as long as it was exposed to sunlight.

After the first sips and the not so fascinating culinary experience, the pope declared that this drink is not just free to drink during fasting but drinking it helps in the process of atonement. This is how the leitenbock (the beer fast of the Minims) was born: 40 days without solid food, drinking only water and beer.

In the middle ages, there was significant beer brewing in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Scandinavia among others. Around that time the beverage was made from barley, wheat, and oats. Before the appearing of the hop, for flavoring, they used barks of oak in order to give the beer its peculiar tart taste.

The crucial juncture in beer brewing was the using of the hop. From the 13th-century hop superseded the till then current flavors like honey, fragrant grasses, ginger, and cloves. Furthermore, it created the special bitterness of the beer and something that is maybe more important than that: it gave permanence to the drink. According to the Bavarian law of purity, real beer is made from malt, water, and hops but the law's original purpose wasn't really to control brewing, but forewarn the citizens that wheat is for baking bread not for brewing beer.

The most famous order whose name practically interweaves with beer is the Trappists. All of their beers are full-bodied, high in alcohol and have a complex, hoppy flavor. Furthermore, with proper storing, it preserves its freshness until 25 years (!)

And lastly, an important information in the end. What makes an authentic Trappist beer?
- it was brewed in the monastery (by monks or under their guidance)
- it was not intended to be a profit-making investment
- it had secondary importance within the monastery