This week’s review brings me to a place I did not think I would find outside of Europe. Mt. Angel Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that has continued the idea of self-sufficiency, including brewing their own beer, established by the order in the Middle Ages. With hops grown on the abbey grounds and water from their own wells, they have been serving pints of beer in their modest taproom since 2018. So sit back, grab a beer, and join me as I recount my experience at this divine example of monastic craft.
- Beer – One would expect Belgian inspired beers from a monastic brewery, however this brewery adds a Pacific NW twist using lots of locally sourced hops in their creations. Utilizing mostly Belgian ale yeast provides the rich layers of fruit and spice and higher ABV typically seen with this style. All of their beers are crisp, clean, easy drinking, and pair well with food and I particularly enjoyed the Tripel. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – Rich in wood and warmth, this small yet stylish taproom was a delight to spend an afternoon in. Indoors a modest bar is surrounded by plenty of seating with views through a wall of windows out to the fields and mountains to the west. The outdoor patio provides spectacular pastoral views while being in the perfect spot to soak in the afternoon sun. They offer appetizer plates (the beer cheese pretzel is delicious) at reasonable prices, and you are welcome to bring your own food for a picnic. Open in the early afternoon to early evening Wednesday through Sunday give you lots of options for when to stop by. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – There is a sense of calm and quiet that envelops the tap room, wether due to the solemnity afforded the monastery or the relaxing views out the window. Entertainment is what you make it here, with no televisions or live entertainment, though I did see a few tabletop games off to the side than can be enjoyed. Just up the hill lies the monastery where you can walk the grounds and get a glimpse of a unique lifestyle not seen much these days. In addition, the abbey hosts yearly festivals and music events, while the local town of Mt. Angel has a spectacular Oktoberfest each year. Score: 2.5/5
- Location – Not unsurprisingly, the monastery and taproom are located in a fairly rural area, though the towns of Mt. Angel and Silverton are not that far away. Aside from touring the abbey there is not much to do close by, however both nearby towns offer some great downtown areas as well as restaurants and breweries if you are looking to extend your day. On the plus side, parking is not an issue as they have an expansive on-site lot and the tap room is well marked from the road. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – I would be more surprised if the customer service here was poor than I would be by anything else on the list. Welcoming, friendly, and great at conversation, the bar tenders were a delight to interact with. Making beer suggestions and offering tasting samples, the service was quick and friendly, exactly what one would expect from a brewery run by monks. Score: 4.5/5
Total Score: 16.5/25
Favorite Beer: Saint Raphael – 9.5% Belgian Tripel
Final Thoughts: A surprising find in the heart of the Willamette Valley, this brewery provided an interesting and unique look at a way of life not commonly seen these days while providing high quality Belgian style beer with a PNW twist. I highly recommend making Benedictine Brewery a stop on any beer tour of the area, and I look forward to visiting again.