Released in 2007, New Norcia Abbey Ale was developed and produced by Chuck Hahn (of the Malt Shovel Brewery) in collaboration with the Benedictine monks at New Norcia. Unlike Trappist beers which are brewed within abbey walls under the control of monks, Abbey Ales are brewed commercially by companies who licence an abbey’s name. Interested in the historical association of monks and brewing, which dates from the medieval period, Hahn negotiated with the monks at New Norcia to produce an Abbey Ale for them. A sample brew of the Belgian golden style ale was delivered to New Norcia for tasting in 2006 and, according to the story provided by promotional literature and on New Norcia’s website, “following the ancient Benedictine protocol, the monks voted to approve the use of their name on the Ale”. This ancient protocol possibly refers to Chapter III of the Rule of St Benedict, which mandates that “as often as any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the whole community and himself set forth the matter”. See The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, edited and translated by Abbot Justin McCann, Monk of Ampleforth, 3rd Edition, The Newman Press, Westminster, 1963.
About New Norcia:
New Norcia is a monastic town located 132 km north of Perth in Western Australia. The town is owned and run by a community of Benedictine monks and houses one of only three Benedictine monasteries (for men) in Australia. At its height the monastery housed approximately 80 monks, but currently there are only seven in residence. The Benedictines are part of a religious order within the Catholic Church known as the Order of St Benedict (OSB). Benedictines live in small, largely autonomous communities and base their way of life on the Rule of St Benedict, which prioritises a balance of prayer and work and calls for promises of stability, obedience and a conversion of life. The first Benedictine community was established in the sixth-century in Italy by St Benedict of Nursia (c.480-547).
Originally intended as a mission to evangelise and educate the indigenous peoples of the Victoria Plains, the site at New Norcia was founded in 1847 by two Spanish Benedictine missionaries, Dom José Benito Serra and Dom Rosendo Salvado. Serra’s involvement in the missionary activities at new Norcia decreased following his appointment as Co-adjutor Bishop of Perth in 1849, while Salvado (1814-1900) committed himself wholly to developing the mission and leading the monastic community. He subsequently became the key figure in the first 50 years of New Norcia’s history. He made numerous fundraising trips to Europe, which provided him with the means to purchase books, vestments, artwork and equipment for the community and also to oversee the construction of new buildings. He died in Rome in 1900 and his body was returned to New Norcia. Under Salvado’s successor, Bishop Fulgentius Torres (1861-1914), New Norcia became more like a traditional monastic settlement. An increased focus on education and artistic pursuits led to the establishment of two schools and improvements to many of the town’s buildings. For more information on New Norcia, see the New Norcia Benedictine Community website: http://newnorcia.wa.edu.au/.