Polish monks to brew beer

Recipe from 17th century could even make its way to Chicago

May 14, 2003 - Cistercian monks in southern Poland plan to get into the beer business — including making and distributing beer, perhaps taking their business to the United States, and opening a hotel and beer hall.


According to an Episcopalian news report, the monks will start with a recipe said to date from the 17th century.

"This beer is dark and distinctive - it has a great bitter taste," said Eugeniusz Wlodarczyk, abbot of the monastery at Szczyrzyc in the Beskidy Mountains. "We won't be producing a huge amount so as not to compete with the big breweries. But it'll be quite different from other beers now on the market."

The first batches should hit bars this month in the southern Polish city of Krakow.

The Cistercians had already received sample barrels, ordered specially from beer-making Trappist monks in Belgium, Wlodarczyk said. The Cistercians are also hoping to break into the U.S. market through an affiliated Polish-run monastery in Chicago.

Wlodarczyk said he had come across the 400-year-old recipe during a search through monastery archives in the mid-1990s. "Of course, the recipe has had to be updated to current production standards," Wlodarczyk said. "We can't divulge it, since our competitors on the brewery network never sleep. All I can say is that the secret lies in a certain very special kind of yeast."

The Cistercians are planning to open a hotel and beer hall on their estate, said the manager of the Szczyrzyc monastery, Elzbieta Adamek, and the monks also hope to obtain grants from the European Union to launch their own cheese and honey manufacturing operations.

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