Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ampleforth Beer, There and Back Again

The Northern Echo has this story about Ampleforth Abbey shipping its beer to France, and how that is a "homecoming" of sorts for the beer:

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).

As soon as I read that second paragraph I began to wonder--"they were driven from England to France during the Reformation in 1608"? The Dissolution of the Monasteries, as we know, occurred during the reign of Henry VIII, not the reign of James I of England. I think what's missing from the timeline is that in 1607, the last link to the Benedictine Abbey at Westminster, re-established by Queen Mary I and then dissolved again by Elizabeth I, the monk Robert Sigebert Buckley, "professed a group of English monks in France, and so passed onto them the rights and privileges of the ancient English Benedictine Congregation", as the Ampleforth Abbey website history page explains. There are more resources about Father Buckley here, including information about the last Catholic Abbot of Westminster, John Feckenham. Among the monks who joined the continued English Benedictine line were the martyr St. Alban Roe and Father Augustine Baker.

Like the English Benedictines of Cambrai who were imprisoned with the Carmelites of Compiegne, the English Benedictines in France at Dieulouard fled back to England during the French Revolution. Although the monks had brewed the beer and sold it in France to make a living, they just started production again in Ampleforth last May. I think that we in the U.S.A. would have to make pilgrimage to Ampleforth to enjoy this beer, which is double-fermented and sparkles like champagne! Cheers!

Image credit to wikipedia commons under a license.

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