Ampleforth Abbey Beer

Driven from England at the time of the Reformation, a community of Benedictine monks found their way to France. There, they were given a derelict cloister at De Dieulouard by the Duke of Lorraine. Determined to survive, they needed income, and that income came from brewing beer.

This was not just any beer, but the first of its kind – biere anglaise – to be brewed in France. Made with hops and barley, then ‘double-fermented’, it was strong and ‘sparkled like champagne’. Such was its appeal that, contrary to the law of the times, the Benedictine monks received permission to sell their beer to the Court of Lorraine. The Duke even gave them money and materials to channel a spring right to the brewery (brasserie) in the monastery and to create the first ever water reservoir in France.

 

Their brew became famous far and wide, being enjoyed by the seigneurs of the realm. It received patronage from Louis XIV, the Sun King and his successor Louis XV.

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That is, until the Revolution of 1789 when, like the French King himself, the beer lost its head. The monks managed to escape back to England, and what is more they took with them the recipe for the beer, the secret of which had never been revealed. Once back in England they founded, in 1802, Ampleforth Abbey in the magnificent Yorkshire valley where it stands today.

 

Much has happened in the intervening two centuries and the order of Benedictine monks continues to thrive. And the monks have a great sense of history, which is lucky for all of us, because the secret recipe of Dieulouard has not been lost.

Working closely with Wim van der Spek, head brewer at Little Valley Brewery in Hebden bridge, the monks of Ampleforth have once again begun to sell ‘La Biere Anglaise’. Following extensive research, Wim has paired modern brewing techniques with the fragments of information available to produce Ampleforth Abbey Dubbel – a beer as rich in history as it is in flavour.

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