Trappist communities observe the counsel of the Rule of St. Benedict, a 6th century guide for monastic life, that stresses the importance of ora et labora or “pray and work.” Monks are encouraged to be self-supportive and offer charitable assistance to others by producing and selling goods to the public.
The bell tower rising skyward above the abbey church is one of the defining architectural features of our Spencer Abbey. Simple, solid, striking, beautiful, the tower guides many a wayfarer to their spiritual home.
The font used in our Spencer logo is derived from the calligraphy inscribed upon the limestone end panels of the high altar of the abbey church, which was created by Br. David Holly, a monk and artist of Spencer at the time of its foundation in 1950.
Our brewery project is one of necessity. For over 60 years, we have cooked and packed jams and jellies at our monastery under the Trappist Preserves label. This business has allowed us to support ourselves, while providing wholesome monastic work and charitable assistance to the poorer communities and persons in need. However, when we look to the future, as our community grows and ages, we see our need for an additional enterprise that supports our community and charities in the years to come.
In our community, each monk’s work is assigned after matching up community need and the individual’s interests and abilities. A few years ago, one of our brothers expressed interest in brewing and even did some training at a local craft brewery. Over time, his passion for brewing affected some other monks, who recognized that brewing was a very traditional monastic enterprise. Thus, when the time came to re-chart the economic path for the monastery’s future, the idea of a brewery gained traction. However, before we could come to a decision, we had to develop the brewery idea into a realistic plan.
With the blessing of the abbot, we embarked upon a two-year data-gathering mission. We visited each Trappist brewery to learn everything we could from our European brothers. Beginning at the Abbey of Westmalle, we slowly made our way around Belgium, staying at the monasteries and making friends, receiving good advice and drinking some of the world’s best beer. The final stop of our first trip was the Abbey of Sint Sixtus, brewer of the acclaimed Westvleteren ales; by the end of our second trip and more detailed discussions, we were confident that we had put together a realistic plan for a new brewery. Following monastic tradition, the monks voted and confirmed the project by an overwhelming majority – we would build America’s first Trappist brewery.
Observing Trappist tradition we have named the brewery, and the beer, Spencer after our beloved town of Spencer, MA.