Road Notes: Day 184
Last night was a pretty tame birthday. One reason was because of the interview we had scheduled for today. We are fortunate enough to be meeting with Berkeley Merchant, the Master Brewer for Abbey Brewing Company.
Abbey Brewing is based in Abiquiu, NM at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, a Benedictine order. Although monastic brewing has a long tradition in Europe, it has not gained traction here in the US. In fact, Abbey brewing is the first monastery to take up brew operations here in the states, and is joined by only two others.
From Taos to the monastery was about a two hour drive. It was painfully beautifully. We passed so many crazy rock formations, so many awe-inspiring vistas, and so many locations that were painted by Georgia O’Keeffee (we even passed her home/studio). The last several miles to the monastery were on rough dirt roads. The monastery itself is nestled within the borders of Carson National Forest. It makes sense why the Monastery is used only as a testing facility for the beer recipes. They have outsourced their production to a different location…one that is more accessible by truck to make transportation of the product possible.
Berkley was fantastic and very knowledgable, not just about brewing and the process, but about monastic life. He told us all about the Benedictine order, how it was formed, their guiding principles, etc. Although he is married, while at the monastery, he lives life as the monks do. Sometimes this means he will be in the middle of brewing a batch of beer, and will have to leave for prayers. The Benedictines believe in self-sufficiency, which is one reason why Abbey Brewing Co was formed in the first place. It also doesn’t hurt that wild hops were found in the area, which they now cultivate on the premise for use in their production.
We learned so much from Berkeley and really enjoyed our time exploring the beautiful monastery. Since they only use that location for recipe formulation, we weren’t able to try their product line up. They do have a taproom in Albuquerque, so we are looking into stopping there on our way out of New Mexico and tasting alllllll of their beers. Research. It’s part of this project, ya know?
Road Notes are timed entries—written in thirty minutes or less at the end of each day. Considerations are made for spelling/legibility but not for grammar. Deal with it.