Brew to subsist

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The abbeys now brew mainly to ensure their subsistence.

Ensure the subsistence of the community.

The monasteries have heavy burdens: maintenance of monks and lay brothers, care of the sick or teaching, assistance to the needy, reception of pilgrims. A monastery must be able to feed all the people who are in the establishment or who revolve around it. As the donations are not enough, the monastery cultivates the plants, raises the animals necessary for its food and seeks to create surpluses which are sold outside.

 

Due to the fact that a certain number of monks knew how to read, write and count, the abbeys took advantage of this to bring technical advances to brewing: precision in the proportions, the use of written recipes and the addition of hops for their aromatic, antibacterial and preservative properties.

 

Far from being only a means of ensuring hospitality to its visitors and constituting a food supplement for the monks, the brewing of beer was also a source of income for the abbeys, in particular to maintain or modernize their buildings and installations.

Over the centuries, it often happened that lay brewers or cabaret-keepers complained about the competition they considered unfair from the brewing monks, who in some cases had a fairly large trade in beer and set up restaurants and places of entertainment to promote the sale of their production.
 
Nowadays, given the reputation acquired by the "beer of the monks" which sells generally well, and considering the many technical evolutions in brewing and the modern means of disposing of the production, the brewing of beer remains a proven means to provide income for a religious community, although it must be admitted that the number of authentic abbey breweries has dropped considerably over the last two centuries .