Saturday, July 15, 2006

The brewing of the nuns, pt. 1

By this point, anyone who's read my posts or been in any way influenced by the Belgian tourism board knows that monks make beer. How they got started in making beer, what kinds of beer they make, where monks still make beer, and the gradual assimilation of the cloistered brewery within the secular brewing world has all been duly covered. But the question remains: whither brewing nuns?
Historically, it's a tough one, as anyone who has studied the arts and crafts knows that any early successes within the sacred confines of the Church were attributed to neither men nor women, but to God (a neat trick which makes identifying the composers of early music complicated at best, but still we have our Hildegard). Whereas the story of northbound Italian monks from the city of Paula settling into southern Germany and producing a rich, life-giving beer to aid in times of ritual fasting is legendary, you'd be hard pressed to find a similar tale of say, a cloister of French nuns holing up in the Ardennes and whipping up heavenly [you knew that adjective would show up, right?] kegs of black saison.
And I've have to believe it exists. From my experience in working in a school run by the Dominican sisterhood, I would be surprised to find that a society founded in part by a love of nature and the outdoors, tenets of providing food and shelter to whomever needed it, and a respect and embracing acceptance of earthly riches as a reflection of the divine would not, at some point, make beer. So the search begins. To start, a Tom Wait-ish quote from my first google search result:
one hundred dollars in an old nun’s hand
dusty bottle of beer



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