Heavenly beer plans

Two New Mexico monasteries talk about opening a brewery

Apr 25, 2005 - Two New Mexico monasteries may open a brewery on the grounds of the Pecos Benedictine Monastery east of Santa Fe. The Abbey Beverage Co. is seeking approval of a state liquor license for the brewery.


Monasteries began brewing beer more than 1,000 years ago, and a few still do today, but Brother William said he thought the planned brewery-on-the-monastery at Pecos may be a first in the western hemisphere. The Pecos brewery would be a joint venture of the Pecos and Abiquiu monasteries, and does not include plans for on-site alcohol sales or consumption of beer.

The San Miguel County Commission has already given approval for a small-brewer category license. The next step for Abbey Beverage is formal approval by the state Alcohol and Gaming Division.

Brother William, who was present for the county commission meeting, said the brewery would increase the financial independence of the monastery, which relies on donations and outside support for sustenance. It also will provide jobs to help boost the local economy, he said. "We cannot count on the donations," he said. "God helps those who help themselves."

Brad Kraus, whose beers made at three other New Mexico breweries won awards in national competitions, would be in charge of brewing. He has already produced test batches at Sierra Blanca Brewing in Carrizozo.

Brother William said the brewery is applying for a wholesale license that would allow sales to restaurants and retail outlets. Commercial investors will be approached within a couple of years, he noted.