Monastery brewery announces plans to grow

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — Heading into its third year of operation, business is booming at St. Benedict’s Brew Works in Ferdinand — a local craft brewery located on the grounds of Monastery Immaculate Conception. And with the success, management is planning its next steps to grow.

Those include building a small outdoor performance stage, selling wine and beers from other brewers, adding a production brewery into the mix next year that will allow the brewers to more than quadruple their production, and hosting a couple of events to pull even more people in. The monastery is known for its monastically named beers, such as the Raising Lazarus IPA and the Sister Betty Blonde.

“We’re trying to kind of maximize what we can do in the building there,” said co-owner Vince Luecke. “Both from kind of an entertainment point of view, our kitchen is sort of maxed out sizewise, so it ... does kind of get us toward maximizing every square foot we can use. Either in making beer, aging beer or serving it to our customers.”

Currently, the outside of the brewery is being renovated, and that part of the project will bring parking spaces and new sidewalks to the grounds. That work is being completed by monastery staff and a contractor, and the construction of the exterior stage will be completed by volunteers. Luecke was unsure of the final design of the stage, but said it’s mostly so people don’t have to play under a pop-up tent if it’s hot or raining. Those updates are slated to be finished this fall.

Luecke said wine will be available by the glass sometime in the next two weekends. He noted the selection will be “fairly straightforward,” featuring five or six varieties. Guest taps will be a new option for brewerygoers as well, Luecke said, allowing St. Benedict’s to bring in ciders, speciality beers and other local brews that aren’t their own. They’re looking to have one or two of those on tap at a time, he said.

St. Benedict’s is still hammering out details regarding the location of the production brewery, but it will be in the area. Luecke said the business has reached a production cap at its current facility. The new facility won’t change what they do at the current brewery on the monastery grounds, but whether the new facility will include a taproom and restaurant of its own is to be determined and will depend on the location of it, but Vince said he’d prefer it did.

Three years from now, Luecke hopes St. Benedict’s has expanded beyond its roots and is on its way to becoming a regional force.

“We know there’s room for really kind of explosive growth because we’ve always been proud of the beers we’ve brewed — even on our small system,” he said. “We want to replicate that and obviously we’d like to become a larger craft brewery that serves not just the town of Ferdinand.”

He thanked the Sisters for the positive relationship the brewery has had with them since St. Benedict’s opened in October 2015. The brewery gives them a percentage of its revenue, and Luecke said he considers the two entities partners, even though their ministries are different.

“Just knowing that they’re praying for us and wishing us well, and we’re trying to — in our sort of way — share some of the same kind of hospitality and friendliness toward people,” Luecke said. “Being welcoming and hospitable.”

The brewery’s second monastery beer festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15 — the same day as the Ferdinand Folk Festival — from noon to 4 p.m. at the Monastery Event Hall near the brewery. Tickets for the event can be ordered on the St. Benedict’s Brew Works Facebook page.

At 10 a.m. CDT on Saturday, Oct. 6, St. Benedict’s will host a “beer run” at Yellig Park in Santa Claus, followed by an afternoon of beer, food and local music. About three beer or root beer stops will be placed throughout the 5K walk and run for participants to grab a 4 ounce glass of brew during the event. Registration is not currently available for that event, but Luecke said it will soon be posted on the Facebook page as well as at the brewery.




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