A rural monastery in North West Leicestershire will become the UK’s only Trappist brewery after proposals by beer-loving monks were approved.
If accredited by the International Trappist Association, the brewery at Mount St Bernard Abbey, near Whitwick, will become one of only 12 in the world to produce authentic Trappist beer.
Trappist beer is brewed by Trappist monks, the order best known worldwide for carrying out their duties largely in silence. Eleven monasteries - six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands and one each in Austria, Italy and the US - currently brew beer and sell it as Authentic Trappist Product.
A full planning and listed building application to convert a redundant part of the 19th century Cistercian monastery building has been approved by North West Leicestershire District Council.
The plans were drawn up with the help of Fisher German Rural Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors, based in Ashby.
A spokesman told the Burton Mail’s sister paper the Leicester Mercury : "The development will enable the monastery to produce Trappist beer, the only product of its type within the UK, while continuing centuries of monastic brewing tradition.
"It will replace an uneconomical, in-hand dairy farm which has ceased operation."
Once up and running, monks and other residents of the abbey will operate the brewery, with any profits made from the venture going to the Trustees of Mount St Bernard, a registered charity responsible for maintaining the abbey and paying the monks’ living expenses.
The spokesman for Fisher German said: "It will ensure that the monastery can continue to be self-sustaining, in accordance with the religious order’s tenets.
"Accordingly, the development will allow for the conservation of the Grade II listed building in a sustainable and economically viable manner."
The conversion will entail some minor internal and external modifications to the building.
It will also include ventilation equipment, sparrow nesting boxes and bat boxes.
A planning, design and access statement submitted to the local planning authority with the application notes that Mount St Bernard Abbey is contained within Leicestershire and Rutland’s "Historic Environment Record", where it is described as a Cistercian Abbey designed and originally built between 1839 and 1844.
It has been extended and added to over the years.
Councillor David Stevenson, chairman of the district council’s planning committee, welcomed the Trappist project, describing it as an "interesting" application.
He said: "This was a very unusual and interesting application that will lead to what we understand to be the only Trappist brewery of its kind in the UK.
"The brewery will be operated by the monks that live there, helping to secure self-sufficiency for the registered charity and religious order.
"The income from the sale of the beer will also help with the maintenance of a Grade II listed building.
"We wish the monks well with their brewing and are confident they’ll produce excellent beer."
No-one from Mount St Bernard's Abbey was available for comment.