BELGIUM, (Reuters) – When the nuns of Maredret Abbey in Belgium were struggling to scrape together the funds for badly needed renovation works, they turned to an occupation that for hundreds of years had been the preserve of monks: beer-brewing.
The 20-strong Benedictine community, founded in 1893, decided about five years ago it was time to team up with a brewer with the aim of producing beer infused with some of their history and values while helping repair their convent’s leaking roofs and cracked walls.
“It’s good for one’s health. It aids digestion. All the sisters like the beer, we are in Belgium after all,” said Sister Gertrude, adding the nuns allowed themselves one bottle each on Sundays.
Maredret Abbey is just a kilometre from male counterpart Maredsous Abbey, whose beer, made by Duvel, is widely available.
Sister Gertrude stressed they did not see each other as rivals. “They were aware, informed and they gave us the green light. It’s not a competition, more a complementarity,” she said.