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New Trappist brewery to ship to D.C. area

The beers from Stift Engelszell will not copy the traditional abbey styles from Belgium. (Stift Engelszell)

Joining the six Trappist breweries in Belgium — and one in the Netherlands — is Stift Engelszell, literally “the abbey of the angel’s cell,” in a remote corner of northwestern Austria, along the banks of the Danube.

The monks, who support themselves by selling cheese and liqueurs, installed a small brewery this past spring. Importer B. United International in Redding, Conn., will be marketing two Stift Engelszell beers in the United States.

Neither brand fits the traditional abbey beer styles of single, double and triple. Gregorius is a strong (9.7 percent alcohol by volume) dark ale named after Abbott Gregorius Eisvogel, who led a band of refugee monks from the Alsace region of France to their present location after World War I. The beer contains honey from beehives near the abbey and is fermented with an Alsatian wine yeast.

Benno is pale in color and a bit less alcoholic at 7.2 percent by volume. The name honors Abbot Benno Stumpf, who fled Bosnia after World War II and helped Stift Engelszell renovate its church and other buildings.

“They didn’t want to just duplicate the Belgian Trappists,” said B. United president Matthias Neidhart. “They’re not using any candy sugar in their beers, which is a signature of the Belgians.”

Both beers will be available in 330-milliliter bottles and 20-liter kegs, added Neidhart. Gregorius should appear in mid- to late August, with Benno following in October or November.

The new Trappist brewery is quite small, said Neidhart, capable of producing only 2,000 to 2,500 barrels per year.

“We don’t know how many bottles and kegs we’ll get,” he cautioned. As a result, B. United will likely have enough beer for only a handful of major urban markets. But when asked if the Washington area would be on the list, he replied:

“Yes, absolutely!”

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