This November, the Mission’s nexus of craft beer (and beer pairings) is bringing a new game into town. The Abbot’s Cellar, aiming to establish a whole new level of authenticity, will fill its actual cellar with actual monks. In a neighborhood teeming with self-trained, mustachioed brewing experts making world-class beer in their basements, it seems the only way forward is to go way back. Back to the ways of Benedictine monks circa 1664.
The monks, Trappists, will be imported from Belgium to brew beer on-site in the Abbot’s Cellar’s “cellar” (back alley). The choice comes in response to criticism that the establishment ought to focus on more locally-made beer. The Abbot’s Cellar, being the local champion it is, decided that the only way to preserve its culinary integrity while supporting the local economy was to bring the import it relies on most into the restaurant’s own backyard. And that, of course, means filling the Abbot’s Cellar’s cellar with abbots.
“It’s gonna be great,” said the restaurant’s beer buyer, Christian Albertson. “We’re going to have like a frat of monks making killer beer in our own fuckin’ cellar. We’ve even got the worldplay thing going on, it’s awesome.”
The monks are a group of cloistered contemplative monastics from St. Benedictus-Abbey in Achel, Belgium. Though the monks have not taken the vow of silence, the Trappist doctrine they follow discourages idle speech. For this reason, Abbot chef Adam Dulye decided to keep them locked in the back room. “I mean, a troop of monks wandering around would add some novelty to the place,” said Dulye, “but I don’t think old mute dudes in robes would be great for upping our tips, you know?”
As the main source of income for the monastery, beer brewing has been a large part of the monks’ lives for decades. The water for beer is normally drawn from wells inside the monastery walls, so the Abbot’s Cellar will pipe water in from the bay for a corresponding “local” affect. Per tradition, the Trappists will rely on spontaneous fermentation— or the beer’s interaction with ambient yeast from the environment—and create three beers: enkel, dubbel and tripel, in honor of the Holy Trinity.
“I’m pretty sure their blood is made of beer,” said Mike Reis, resident beer buyer for both the Abbot and its sister spot, Monk’s Kettle. “To be honest, I’m over the beer here. We’ve gotten too far away from what beer was meant to be. A heavy-bodied Belgian is the meaning of life. Drinking this stuff is like drinking caramelized golden raisins wrapped in smoked hazelnuts. It’s a milkshake for your soul. And now, it’s local” said Reis.
The restaurant’s menu will change to reflect an emphasis on the locally-made Belgian beer. According to the staff, this means more duck, warmly spiced fall vegetables, and butter beans. The beer menu will likewise be stripped down to showcase the monks’ beer, said Albertson.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t believe in any other beer now. I’m going to scrap our whole beer program. From now on, it’s only enkel, dubbel, and trippel,” said Albertson.
We are tripley excited.