USA: The first and only American Trappist brewery shuts down

The first and only American Trappist brewery in the United States shuts down. The brewery in Spencer, Massachusetts, announced last week, that “after more than a year of consultation and reflection, the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey have come to the sad conclusion that brewing is not a viable industry for us and that it is time to close.”

In 2013, Spencer Brewery became the 9th Trappist brewery to get the Authentic Trappist Product label, supported by the monks of Notre Dame de Scourmont Abbey, where the famous Chimay Trappist beer is brewed.

At the beginning, the monastic community found the idea of the brewery “exciting.” However, “the beer market in the US started to change radically,” explainsSpencer Brewery’s Director William Dingwall.

“We stood out when we first opened up, but craft breweries started springing up everywhere. Even though the story of a Trappist brewery coming on the scene was quite big news at the time, the story started being repeated all over the country in other ways. . . . We became just another sort of flavor in this hugely expanding and ever changing world,” he adds.

“The purpose of the brewery was originally to provide a new source of revenue. It was a way of supporting ourselves in our contemplative life here”, Dingwall says. But the brewery “wasn’t performing, and it looked like it wasn’t going to perform in the foreseeable future.”

The monks will now sell the brewery equipment and any remaining raw materials at auction.

Now that the Spencer brewery has disappeared, there are just ten breweries left with the title, five of them being in Belgium (Chimay, Orval, Rochefort [, 17.5.2021], Westmalle and Westvleteren) and the other five are in the Netherlands (La Trappe and Zundert), Austria (Engelszell), UK (Tynt Meadow [, 25.10.2017]) and Italy (Tre Fontane).

Three other beers (including Achel’s beer [, 21.1.2021]) can call themselves Trappist, but without the title of ‘authentic’ because they do not meet the required conditions.

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