This week, beer from the first Trappist brewery in the United States began to hit Massachusetts store shelves. The monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer are known for making preserves, but around five years ago they began a plan to build a 36,000-square foot brewery in the hopes of securing their finances to support the aging facility and the community within. Brother Isaac Keeley, who oversees brewery operations, says the monks plan to brew and sell 4,000 barrels of Spencer Trappist Ale in 2014. They have the capacity to brew 40,000 barrels annually.
Only 11 monasteries worldwide are certified to brew beer under the Trappist label. St. Joseph’s became the ninth active Trappist brewery in the world selling beer to the public and the first outside Europe. Despite their modest lifestyle, or maybe because of it, St. Joseph’s monks have generated quite a bit of hype for their new product.