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Seven times a day, starting at 3:30 a.m., the Trappist monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux gather in prayer.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

German stonemason Frank Helmholz oversees the reconstruction of a 12th century Spanish monastery that was imported, stone by stone, by William Randolph Hearst in 1931. He splits his time between the Abbey at New Clairvaux and a restoration project at Egypt’s Temple of Luxor.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Father Thomas X. Davis, abbot emeritus at the Abbey of New Clairvaux north of Chico, pushes open the door to a barn that holds thousands of pieces of stone from a 12th century Spanish monastery. The chapel is being reconstructed with funding help from an ale to be released next year by nearby Sierra Nevada Brewery.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Father Thomas X. Davis walks among the stones from the 12th century monastery. Sierra Nevada will train Davis as a “sensory professional” — a beer taster who knows his phenols from his esters.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Monks at New Clairvaux file out of the chapel after a noontime prayer and chant. They work in the abbey's vineyards, helping produce a popular line of wines.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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Building with beer and mortar

In partnership with monks at an abbey north of Chico, a brewery will release an ale that pays tribute to the Trappist beers of Europe. Proceeds will help reconstruct a 12th century Spanish monastery from stones left by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.

1 Comment

  1. November 30, 2010, 11:17 pm

    It is a real grace to follow this story from the start of the journey of the stones that sat out along a path outside the rear fence of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I remember when the Trappist monastery was able to secure possession of these stones, each marked with its place location in the original Spainish monastery,and then have them transported up to Vina. __I have the SF Chronicle/Examiner about that journey. Now, wonderfully, Sierra Nevada Brewery will help the brothers market a "real, authentic Trappist beer" and finally have the funds to restore the monastery to its original majesty. To that and the great Trappist tradition let's all pass on the bier mug of good graces and tasty Belgian ale when it becomes availabe soon.

    By: RogertheDodger5

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