James Clay takes on first UK Trappist beer

Craft and specialist beer distributor James Clay is to distribute the UK’s first-ever Trappist beer. 

Tynt Meadow is produced at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire and is brewed with English barley and hops, using an English strain of yeast. The beer is twice fermented, with the first fermentation taking place in the tank and the second in the bottle. The beer follows the Trappist traditions for a strong dark ale, but with English character, and it is described as being “full-bodied, gently balancing the taste of dark chocolate, pepper and fig”. 

The idea for setting up a brewery within the abbey’s walls came after the brothers decided to branch out from dairy farming, which had been their primary source of income for many years. In a bid to seek alternative support for the abbey the monks, who were granted permission from the Pope to open a brewery, studied the tradition of Trappist brewing from abbeys across Europe, bringing their learnings back to the UK to begin producing their own beer. The abbey said it received advice from the 11 other global Trappist breweries as well as from the International Trappist Association.

Mike Watson, head of marketing at James Clay, said: “This is a huge milestone for the UK beer scene and we are really excited to be working with our friends at Mount St Bernard Abbey to bring Tynt Meadow to consumers. It is a unique brew that fans of Trappist beers will fall in love with. 

“We currently already distribute a number of other European Trappist beers, all of which are highly regarded among our clients, and we think Tynt Meadow will have this same positive impact.”

Father Erpik, from Mount St Bernard, said: “It is an exciting time for us to be launching Tynt Meadow into the UK market. Being the first active Trappist brewery in the UK puts us in a really good position to bring something truly special to consumers across the country and we feel honoured to be at the forefront of this. All proceeds from the sale will go towards the upkeep of the abbey and towards the charitable works.”

In order to make space for the installation of a new artisanal brewery, the abbey had to relocate its refectory, kitchen and laundry. Volume production is kept relatively small and all the work, from brewing to bottling and packaging, is done by the monks. 

The addition of Tynt Meadow takes James Clay’s Trappist portfolio up to six. It sits alongside Westmalle, Rochefort, Orval and Chimay from Belgium and La Trappe from the Netherlands. 

The Cistercian order was revitalisted in the 17th century at the abbey of La Trappe, in Normandy. The tradition of La Trappe was guarded and developed during the tumultuous 18th century and by the 19th it was recognised as a specific calling, which is why this branch of the order is often called Trappist, reflecting a specific subset of the wider Cistercian tradition. 

Mount Saint Bernard Abbey was founded in Leicestershire in 1835 and a permanent monastry was built on the site at this time, which was raised to the status of an abbey in 1848. 

Trappist beers tend to be named after the place the monastery is situated, therefore Tynt Meadow is named after the field in which the monks first settled on its current property.

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