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The Brewing Monks: A Potential 12th Trappist Brewery Begins the Process in Spain

Cardena TripelOn March 16th of 2016, a new beer was presented to the Spanish press: Cardeña Tripel. Located just outside Burgos in Northern Spain, Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña is beginning the process of becoming the 12th official Trappist brewery. The recipe was developed by Scottish brewmaster Bob Maltman (editorial note: Fantastic name for a brewer!) in cooperation with Belgian beer expert Erick Coene. Together, they created the recipe under the direction of the monks.

Trappist ProductMonasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña is already a member of the International Trappist Association (ITA) and has been selling wine, liquor, and other products that bear the famous hexagon. They’re sold onsite at the abbey and at their web portal. The beer, Cardeña Tripel, is now available onsite and on their web store as well.

Currently, the beer is being produced in Madrid at Fabrica de Cervezas MarPal. As per Trappist rules, the beer must be brewed within the wall of the abbey to become an official Trappist Beer. Cardeña will continue to make batches off site and sell them while simultaneously installing a small brewery onsite. Once the brewery is finished, they’ll shift production to the abbey and then officially present their beer to the ITA.

Cardeña Tripel is a Belgian-style blond Triple of 7% ABV.

Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña

This history of Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña is often shrouded in the mists of history due to its extreme age combined with the turbulent history of the Iberian Peninsula. Tradition places the founding of the abbey at 534CE when St. Benedict sent out monks from Monte Cassino. Until the mid 19th century, Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña was a Benedictine monastery. Although this is the standard tradition, it’s hard to put exact dates and supporting documents to these claims due to the invasion and rule of Islamic forces throughout the second half of the first millennium.

The first documented acknowledgement of the existence of the monastery comes in 902CE in the paperwork of a local count who’d documented donations made to the abbey. There are some slightly earlier references, though, to a restoration made to the Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña by King Alfonso III. The abbey was destroyed shortly thereafter in 934CE by Abderamman III, ruler of the nearby Caliphate of Cordoba. This lead to the famous martyring of 200 monks two decades later. Again, the abbey was restored later that century. The monastery remained a part of the Benedictine community until 1835 when Alvarez Mendizabal implemented a series of laws that confiscated monastic lands and forced the monks out.

It wasn’t until after the Spanish Civil war that monastery was fully restored to its original purposes. Although several attempts had been made at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, none succeeded. The abbey grounds had played host to a concentration came during the Spanish Civil War. It wasn’t until after the war had ended and the grounds were vacated that another attempt to restart the monastery could take place. On April 29th, 1942; the abbey was officially reconsecrated as a Cistercian Priory by Cistercian Monks of the Strict Observance (Trappists). A Priory is a small, non-independent monastic community.

Three years later, the priory was elevated on October 1st, of 1945 and granted full autonomy 3 months later in January of 1946. In 1948, the priory was granted the full status and title of Abbey, elevating it to its current status.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the Trappist Order and Monastic Brewing, please follow this link to my page that gathers all my writings on the subject.

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4 thoughts on “The Brewing Monks: A Potential 12th Trappist Brewery Begins the Process in Spain

  1. I stumbled across this Spanish blog saying that the monks of Monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña have voted not to invest in installing a brewery onsite. It seems this Spanish blog had to ask the people involved in the presentation of the project. Is this true? and if so, why haven’t they announced the cancellation? Here is a link to the blog, and if you don’t speak Spanish hopefully your fluent in Google translate.

    1. Hi Bernard, Thanks for the information. I’ll investigate it further. I’m in process of contacting them for some other business and will see what they have to say about their future as a ATP member.

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