Beer and Gregorian chant: These Benedictine monks have it all, and now you can, too!

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Image via the Monks of Nursia beer-selling site

Image via the Monks of Nursia beer-selling site

Image via the Monks of Nursia beer-selling site

Image via the Monks of Nursia beer-selling site

(RNS) The Benedictine monks of Norcia in Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict, founder of the Western monastic tradition, have been celebrated for reviving the monastery and topping Billboard’s classical chart with their traditional Gregorian chant CDs.

Now, just in time for Lent, fans in the U.S. can for the first time buy their home-brewed beer as easily as they can download their music.

And it seems we can thank the Rev. Richard Cipolla, a Connecticut priest and blogger at the Traditionalist site Rorate Caeli, for this development (as it were) and for this news, which he said came just a few days ago from the head of the monastery north of Rome:

“I had urged them to expand their market to the United States, both to make their excellent beer more available and well known, but also to let themselves to be more well known in the United States as a center of monastic renewal based on the Traditional Liturgy of the Church,” Cipolla writes.

“I wanted to share this good news with you all who love the Tradition and who like beer made in the traditional way … Since their beer is as good as their chant (I can attest to this), we can already thank God for their success in this venture.”

Yes, monks in the U.S. have been noteworthy as craft brewers (and casket-makers, among other things). But c’mon, beer from the birthplace of St. Benedict (and don’t forget his twin sister, St. Scholastica)!

The only question is whether it will travel well. I think I’ll leave that judgment to Fr. Cipolla, and also the truly qualified Rod Dreher at the American Conservative — blogger, bon vivant, and Benedict Option-ist — who has been to the source, and declared it a font of evangelization:

“I asked Fr. Martin how brewing beer serves the Church,” Dreher wrote in an October 2014 post. “He said that you’d be surprised by how many people who aren’t especially interested in Christianity taste the beer and find that it really tastes good. Then they want to know more about how it’s made, and sooner or later, some of them want to know about the faith. Besides, he said, drinking beer makes the heart glad.”

Hence, the motto of the monastery at Nursia (its Latin name, common in English): “Ut Laetificet Cor,” or “That the heart might be gladdened.”

For details, visit the monastery’s beer website, and read more on its products from this press release. Hurry, there will be a limited quantity available each month, and the reason they are doing this is because demand is so high.They have a Brewmonks’ Club for regulars, and read about their first U.S. customer here. He seems quite satisfied.

The beer comes in wine-sized bottles sold separately, in 6-packs and in cases of 12. They have two types, a blonde ale and a Belgian style strong dark ale.

Oh, and yes, beer (like pretzels) was viewed by monks in the past as a legit beverage to sustain them during the Lenten fast. So there.

Let me know what you think. A visual taste below:

(David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS)

  • Leslie Miller

    How timely – Feb. 1 is the feast of St. Brigid of Ireland, whose famous prayer talks about a lake of beer for God:

    St Brigid’s Prayer

    I should like a great lake of beer to give to God.
    I should like the angels of Heaven to be tippling there for all eternity.
    I should like the men of Heaven to live with me, to dance and sing.
    If they wanted I’d put at their disposal vats of suffering
    White cups of love I’d give them with a heart and a half.
    Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer to every man.
    I’d make heaven a cheerful spot,
    Because the happy heart is true.
    I’d make men happy for their own sakes.
    I should like Jesus to be there too.
    I’d like the people of heaven to gather from all the parishes around.
    I’d give a special welcome to the women,
    the three Marys of great renown.
    I’d sit with the men, the women of God,
    There by the great lake of beer
    We’d be drinking good health forever
    And every drop would be a prayer.

  • Hilda

    Nobody said anything about getting drunk! just remember the wedding at Canaan, if you need a biblical endorsement of alcohol.

  • Rod Dreher

    I had my first taste of Birra Nursia on the floor of the brewery itself, poured by Fr. Martin, the brewmaster. It’s really lovely stuff. I’m headed back to Norcia later this month, thanks be to God!

  • Ricardo Lascorta

    Letting the faith flow… one bottle at a time. Let your work always be your witness Brothers!

  • Ricardo Lascorta

    Abb,I think you have it backwards friend. I studied it well in Seminary.The question from the master of the banquet to the bridegroom in John 2:10 explains that it is the good wine that is usually served first and the “cheaper “wine after when folks “have had too much to drink”. His question begs why the bridegroom saved the ” goodstuff” and the superior wine (created by Jesus 180 gallons worth) till last. Jesus was not against drinking, He frowned on the abuse.
    Grace and Peace