Iconic: Benedictine Brewery opens for Oktoberfest

September 2018 Posted in Business, Community, Food & Drink
JK FB Monks

The monks of Mount Angel Abbey will welcome patrons at Benedictine Brewery’s St. Michael Taproom Sept. 22 – 23 after a soft opening during Oktoberfest. Jim Kinghorn

By Brenna Wiegand

The brewery’s brewing, the taproom ready and the building has been blessed.

Situated on pastoral sloping land below Mount Angel Abbey, Benedictine Brewery was borne of a priest’s passion for beermaking and the real need for a steady stream of revenue to support its existing works.

In the process a third reason surfaced that is unique to this undertaking. The monks, priests and seminarians want to share their somewhat cloistered lives
with the public.

The establishment and its beer debut at this year’s Oktoberfest.

First, Benedictine Brewery’s “St. Michael Munich Helles Lager” is part of the Weingarten’s select lineup.

Meanwhile, the brewery’s St. Michael Taproom is open noon-5 p.m. during the festival. This will be followed by a grand opening Sept. 22 – 23.

Father Martin Grassell, Mount Angel Abbey Procurator, began hobby brewing at the monastery half a dozen years ago. A couple years later he outgrew the basement and started using the facilities at nearby Seven Brides Brewing. Grassell was producing – and selling – Dark Habit Ale and its pale counterpart St. Benedict Farmhouse Ale somewhat successfully.

Now, with its own attractive building made almost solely of timber planted
by monks 100 years ago containing a beautiful five-barrel brewing system
and taproom, the monks are expecting company.

“We think it’s going to be a popular place and really see it as a way to receive people with hospitality in the name of the Lord,” Grassell said. “We have a taproom, but most taprooms don’t have an icon of an archangel in them or priests and
monks pouring.

“We realize we will be a curiosity and there will be people who come just to see ‘Who are monks?’ and we want them to have that experience,” Grassell said. “We feel like we have something to offer the world and if people discover something about faith; something about God by coming for a beer that’s tremendous; we’d love to see that happen.”

Grassell and his brothers on the hill are eager to share beers they lovingly concocted in the limited free time afforded them in the Benedictine lifestyle.

“Brewing’s a fascinating world; it’s a fascinating science and a fascinating art,” Grassell said.

That is clear as Grassell describes the first beers he’d like to have ready for the
grand opening.

Black Habit: “Our original Benedictine Brewery beer. Imagine a Pacific Northwest/Belgian dark ale, somewhat yeasty with a roasty aroma and complex flavors; I particularly like the caramel I find in the finish. Although it’s dark people find it surprisingly light.”

Haustus Pale Ale: “A Latin word that refers to drinking and the pale counterpart to Black Habit with a yeasty but spicier aroma. I find it kind of silky and effervescent on the tongue and a good balance of malt, yeast and hops. Depending on its age I get mango or vanilla, though there’s no fruit in it.”

St. Benedict Farmhouse Ale: “A farmhouse ale also made with Belgian yeast. It has a fresh yeasty aroma and I find it a rather malty, yeasty palate; it settles onto my tongue that way. It’s a session ale; a lower alcohol content you can drink more of it in a social context without getting inebriated.”

St. Michael Helles: “Brewed according to the Munich Helles style; a golden lager that smells and tastes light and clean; malt-forward with a soft graininess that makes it very easy to drink. It’s too good!”

More beers will be rolled out as the months unfold; they’re just getting started.

“There is no place where you can meet monks in a retail or social environment like this,” Grassell said. “If you come to the hilltop to try and meet a monk you’ll probably see one here and there but he’s working; he’s going someplace; he’s got meetings to get to and people to see. This is a chance to find a monk at leisure.”

Benedictine Brewery St. Michael Taproom
Grand opening: Sept. 22 – 23, noon-8 p.m.

Regular fall hours of operation: Wednesday – Thursday: 2-7 p.m. Friday – Saturday: 1-8 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Monday and Tuesday)

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.