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Heavenly Brews: Monastic Beers of Norcia, Italy

The city of Norcia, in the heart of Italy, is known for being the birthplace of Benedict, the “father” of monastic life in the West. The St. Benedict’s Way, which follows the saint’s sites all the way to the abbey of Montecassino, starts there.

Norcia is famous for its culinary offerings, stunning scenery and local beer. Birra Nursia, a beer brewed by monks, has recently attracted international interest and admiration.

The story of the monks of Norcia surely extends beyond the production of fine brews. The Benedictines, following the Rule of Saint Benedict, have a long tradition of self-sufficiency. Consequently, as craft beers in Italy became a trend, they saw an opportunity. Emulating the Trappist monks of Belgium, renowned for their own abbey beers, the Benedictine monks of Norcia embarked on his brewing adventure.

The production of Birra Nursia is not solely driven by profit; it is also a means of supporting the monastery’s mission. Each sale contributes to the maintenance of the church, the fostering of prayer and outreach programs, and the provision of warm hospitality to pilgrims and those in need. The 2016 earthquakes that struck Norcia further highlighted the importance of this income stream, as the monks strive to rebuild the monastery and its adjacent buildings, the pilgrim’s hospice included.

For those seeking a different experience, purchasing Birra Nursia directly from the monks is a must. This is an opportunity to not only appreciate the quality of the beer but also to contribute directly to this community.

Speaking of quality, Birra Nursia is not to be underestimated. Their “Extra” brew was awarded in Slow Food’s esteemed “Beers of Italy” competition, establishing their reputation as one of Italy’s leading craft breweries –a “monk-to-table” deal. The monks brew the beer themselves, ensuring quality control at every step. This approach may limit production quantities, but it also guarantees a truly handcrafted experience. When batches do not quite meet those high commercial standards, the monks get to enjoy a bit of their own product.

Whether one is a beer aficionado or simply a curious traveler, Birra Nursia offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity. It is an occasion to experience the heart of Italian monastic life while indulging in a truly special drink. On your next trip to Italy, make sure to visit Norcia and raise a glass to these heavenly brews.

Way of St Benedict

This post is also available in: Español Italiano

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