I speak with Father Isaac Keeley, Trappist monk and Director of the Spencer Brewery at St. Joseph’s Abbey in the Central Massachusetts town of Spencer (my hometown).
The Trappist monks of Spencer have lived a life of solitude and prayer on a 2,000 acre farm with a modest business selling jams, preserves, and handmade ceremonial garments. But 10 years ago the brothers of Spencer started researching ways to raise their income significantly.
“We know there are 6 monastic breweries in Belgium, one of whom has been doing it since the 1580s. So we said, well, they’ve been doing it that long, there must be some compatibilities between the rhythms of monastic life and brewing.”
I asked Fr Isaac how they fit in the demands of running an industrial scale brewery with the contemplative life of the monastery.