Monks and breweries. It is not unheard of. But sisters and breweries? This seems…unique.
In fact, St. Benedict Brew Works is the only craft brewery in the US that is located on the grounds of a women’s religious community. Hmmm…who knew that Indiana could be so progressive? I had to check it out.
St. Benedict Brew Works partners with the Benedictine sisters at the Monastery of Immaculate Conception. Their motto: Pray Work Brew. The brewery itself isn’t run by the sisters but by Vince Luecke, who studied for the priesthood for a bit, and Andy Hedinger, who co-owns Monkey Hollow Winery.
The brewery is tucked behind the church and monastery buildings, next to the gift shop. It inhabits the former art studio and has a kind of art studio feel about it. (Maybe that feeling is fed by the open ceiling and large chalkboards.)
Vince and Andy brew many, many different types of beers but have a limited selection on tap at any one time. They vary between amber beers, dark beers, American pale ales, and India Pale Ales. The names are inspired by the Benedictine tradition like The Witty Nun or Walpurga’s Wheat IPA. You can get pints or flights (samplers), or fill up a growler to go.
After chatting with Vince for a while, I settled on a flight of the four beers that they had on tap: The Abbess (hefeweizen), Sister Mary Rose (Irish red ale), The Prioress (porter), and Walpurga’s Wheat IPA.
The Abbess blew me away. It was clearly my favorite (even though I do not consider myself a wheat beer kind of gal). The hefewiesen had a nice banana flavor to it. (I am not so into banana but I really liked this.) Vince insisted that no banana flavor was added; I was tasting the natural flavor produced by the yeast.
I tend to like darker, heavier beers, so I wasn’t surprised that I liked Sister Mary Rose and The Prioress. Still though, they didn’t quite match up to The Abbess. (I looked back at that empty glass longingly, but no sense in dawdling. Onto the next sample!)
Walpurga’s Wheat IPA was not my cup of tea, so to speak. I do not like pale ales and this one was way too hoppy for someone not smitten by IPA.
When I visited the Brew Works, only a few snack type food items were available, though they hope to have a commercial kitchen working soon.
As I left St. Benedict Brew Works, I sighed. If only I lived closer. I would like to try the other dozen or so beers that they make. Oh look! They offer retreats—brewing retreats—that include reflections on gospel parables as well as sampling and brewing craft beer. Hmm….