Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus is a very valuable resource for anyone who is interested in monks, brewing beer, and the strong tradition of the Belgian monastic communities that produce some of the best beers in the world.
Benedictine monastic communities live by the Rule of Benedict, which encourages them to contribute to their local communities. Monastic brewing is known to have existed as far back as the sixth century.
Trappist communities, which belong to the Benedictine family, take their name from the community at La Trappe, where a reform movement began in 1664 in reaction to the relaxation of practices in other communities. In Belgium, Trappist monasteries brew and sell beer to support themselves and subsidize other monastic communities and charities.
Many beers use pictures of monks on their labels, or claim to be brewed in the style of abbey beers. To be an authentic Trappist beer, the beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist community, by or under the supervision of the monastic community. In addition, the largest part of the profit must be spent on socially beneficial work.
Well researched and filled with practical information, Brew Like a Monk introduces the reader to significant people in each of the six Belgian monasteries that brew beer today. There are chapters on the Belgian brewing monasteries, on abbey beers, on brewing in the United States, and on methods of home and craft brewing using styles, methods, and ingredients similar to the Belgian Trappists.
Brew Like a Monk is a comprehensive introduction to Trappist brewing and beers which has given me a new appreciation for Trappist brews.
What books have opened you to new experiences?
Are you willing to join the Craft Brewery Pilgrimage and try a craft brew made in the style of abbey beers?