SUBIACO, Ark. — Brother Sebastian Richey was a teacher and football coach at Subiaco Academy for 15 years before changing his title to Director of Brewing Operations for Country Monks Brewing.
Monastic breweries are centuries-old says Brother Sebastian.
"Their drinking water wasn't always very good in the Middle Ages so they were creating mead and things like that - other things to drink, which is where I think the boiling of the water comes into brewing," said Brother Sebastian. "Then you add yeast, you get alcohol, you have beer."
Country Monks Brewing is one of three local breweries in Subiaco but has a tradition unlike any other.
The monastery was founded over one hundred years ago and began privately brewing beer in the early 1920s. By 2017, Brother Sebastian moved out of teaching and into the brewery. Since then, Country Monks Brewing has turned into a commercial operation, canning beer and opening their taproom on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for monks, locals and passersbys to enjoy a cold beer and great conversation.
"When it gets really hot in Arkansas, the refreshingness of good cold beer is hard to beat," says Nick McDaniel, a teacher at the Subiaco Academy. "You have a lot of people coming in and out of the community and there's not always a single spot for them to meet and again, you get that opportunity when you come here on a Saturday."
Brother Sebastian says a prayer and his duties to the monastery come first, brewing beer comes second. However, that hasn't stopped the local brewery from winning local awards and expanding its beer options.
Patrons can choose between nine different types of beer - from wheat, pale ale, amber and uniquely their own, peanut brittle stout. But finding a favorite?
"Oh, that's tough! That's tough," exclaimed McDaniel.
If you ever find yourself driving along the hills of the River Valley and see the 'Castle on the Hill' be sure to stop by, maybe even for your second or third time - Brother Sebastian is sure to remember.
"The people you want to reach are the ones you haven't learned who they are yet. For me, that's important," says Brother Sebastian. "I want to have that ability when they come in, they come back a second time, I know who they are. But it also is a huge sense of pride when somebody comes back in because they liked the beer that you made."
If beer isn't your thing, don't worry, there's a little something for everyone. When he isn't behind the bar or busy creating the latest beer, Brother Sebastian makes candles that are available to purchase. You can also pick up homemade hot sauces and soaps, as well as pick up some merchandise for your beer lover in the form of t-shirts, pint glasses and hats.
All proceeds from the brewery go back to the Abbey, but it has also helped create more than $10,000 in financial aid for the students of Subiaco Academy.
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