Ampleforth monks sell pre-revolution beer back to France

Father Terence, Prior of Ampleforth Abbey with some of the beer about to be shipped to France

Father Terence, Prior of Ampleforth Abbey with some of the beer about to be shipped to France

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

IN A turn of events which has taken 220 year to come full circle; English monks are to sell beer to the French based on a secret recipe they fled France with way back in 1793.

The secret recipe for “la biere anglaise” has been hopping the channel with Benedictine monks for more than 400 years.

The closely guarded monastic recipe went with them after they were driven from England to France during the Reformation in 1608 before returning to England when they fled Revolutionary France in 1793.

While living on the continent, the beer provided the monks with a living but production ceased on their return to England and wasn't brewed again until last year.

Since Ampleforth Abbey Beer went on sale 12 months ago, the ale has received an enthusiastic reception.

Deliciously Yorkshire named it “Yorkshire’s Best Drink”. Now - in a case of history repeating itself - the French are about to discover the drink again.

Ampleforth Abbey, near Helmsley, has just received a large order for thousands of bottles of its beer from one of France’s leading beer distributors, International Breweries and Beers (IBB).

It has also been chosen to represent Yorkshire’s food and drink at a reception in the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris on July 21, to celebrate the end of this year’s Tour de France and its start in Yorkshire in 2014.

It’s not the first time the French have celebrated the Benedictine beer. It received patronage from Louis XIV, the Sun King and his successor Louis XV, until the 1789 Revolution, when, “like the French King himself, the beer lost its head”, says the abbey.

Prior of Ampleforth Abbey, Father Terence, said: “The monks managed to escape back to England, and thankfully they brought with them the recipe for the beer, the secret of which had never been revealed. And we’ve based our modern brew on that recipe.”

The double-fermented, seven per cent beer is believed to be Britain’s only monastic ale.

The beer is currently brewed at Little Valley Brewery in West Yorkshire, but Father Terence said if sales reach “very, very good” levels they may look at bringing brewing back to the monastery and making it on site.

Ampleforth Abbey already has its own cider mill, which produces 22,500 litres of its award-winning cider a year.

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