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Br. Augustine (Philip’13) Wilmeth, O.S.B.Br. Augustine (Philip’13) Wilmeth, O.S.B., brewmasterFor four years, the monks of the Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto — of whom three Thomas Aquinas College alumni are members — have brewed their own beer, Birra Nursia, as a means of supporting their community. Now, the New York Times reports, the brothers hope to start using their brew to help rebuild their central Italian region, which has been devastated by two earthquakes in the last four months.

“Their brew may now be the salvation — symbolically, at least — not only of the monks’ sanctuary, but also of Norcia itself,” writes the Times’ Elsa Butler. “The monks are planning to move the beer from the brewery to a safer location, where it can be bottled and specially labeled before it is sold to raise money for reconstruction.”

The story also quotes one of the College’s graduates, Br. Augustine (Philip’13) Wilmeth, O.S.B., who serves as the monastery’s brewmaster:

Brother Augustine Wilmeth, who was born in South Carolina and serves as the brewmaster, said Nursia was “the only monastic beer in the world that is made exclusively by the monks.”

Other monastic brewing operations, he explained, have grown into million-dollar enterprises with many workers. In Norcia, the monks do everything themselves, producing around 10,000 bottles each month.

The monks, in the tradition of St. Benedict, who believed they should live and support themselves by the work of their hands, intend to keep the brewery small. That way, Brother Wilmeth said, “it will stay in our control and really serve monastic life, not overwhelm and consume us.”

Birra Nursia is available for purchase internationally by way of the monks’ wesbsite, and sales will support the rebuilding of Monastero San Benedetto and greater Norcia.