What is “Pursuit of Abbeyness”?

“Pursuit of Abbeyness” is primarily a place to write about beer and homebrewing.

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Why “Abbeyness”? It’s more than a play on words. I seek out, drink, appreciate and create beers of many styles from around the world, but I love the beer culture of Belgium in particular. There are many strands to that culture, from the intriguing Lambics and Gueuzes of Pajottenland, through the farmhouse Saisons of Hainaut, to the freewheeling experimentations of the current wave of globally-inspired brewers. But the most emblematic strand comes from the country’s six Trappist breweries and the “abbey beers” they have inspired.

Moreover, this brewing tradition, stretching from the millennium-old Weihenstephan in Bavaria to the revitalised Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis in Hamont-Achel, happily situates beer within a long history of European culture, reflection, meditation and hospitality.

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That is why “Pursuit of Abbeyness” is only primarily, and not exclusively, a place to write about beer and homebrewing. It will be a homebrewing diary – a place to discuss growing knowledge and experience, ingredients and equipment. It will be a record of beers and beer times that I have enjoyed. It will be a place to debate beer styles, beer culture and beer news.

But man and woman shall not live by beer alone, and those who drink beer only to reflect on beer have not really tasted beer, or savoured its true significance. Therefore, my ambition is to write about beer and brewing in a spirit of broader reflection and meditation as often as possible, but also to make “Pursuit of Abbeyness” a place to write about many other aspects of “the good life” – culture, experiences and ideas.

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In the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson listed “the pursuit of happiness” among the inalienable human rights. He was wise enough to acknowledge that happiness cannot be guaranteed. Indeed, perhaps he suggests that happiness lies rather in the pursuit than in the thing itself.

The same is true of “Abbeyness”. After all, should I be lucky enough to attract some readers, few will ever get to taste my beers – they can only hope to join me in the pursuit. Meditations can always be deeper, insights more informed. With its hundreds of variables and its sensitive living cultures of yeast, homebrewing is governed by chance and risk. Thankfully, homebrewers soon learn that chance is more often serendipitous than not. We try always to enjoy the pursuit. And we usually end up with a beer that intrigues, a beer that we love, rather than the beer that we thought we wanted.

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“Pursuit of Abbeyness” invites you to embrace that serendipity with me.

To your health! Cheers!

Martin Steward, June 2017

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