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Northern Monk: A Brewery Dedicated to Community and Collaboration

By shainaw - B.A. Journalist - The University of Iowa, United States // POST DATE 08 NOV 2020

Northern Monk is a brewery based in Holbeck, Leeds. The brewery was founded in 2013 by Russell Bisset who started the business with only £5000

His brewery, Northern Monk, was inspired by the monastic brewing traditions found across the northern region of the United Kingdom. The brewery is dedicated to creating delicious, unique beers while at the same time giving back to the community that helped make it a success. 

In 2019, in an effort to give back, Northern Monk came up with a truly unique fundraiser idea. The Monks decided to hike to the summit of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, and brew a beer. The hike was a test of their physical endurance as well as their dedication to their cause. They had to deal with stormy weather, midge swarms, and bitingly cold weather, not to mention an exhaustingly long hike. According to the Bisset and associates, however, the trip was worth it. 

The Monks brewed a beer at the summit of Ben Nevis using water from the peak of the mountain as well as bilberries picked along the trail. The journey didn’t end there, though. After brewing the beer, the Monks brought the beverage back down the mountain to brew for two months in a whiskey barrel donated by the Ben Nevis Whisky Distillery in Fort William. Their efforts resulted in the Ben Nevis Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout.

The first 10 bottles of this impressive, high-altitude beer were then auctioned off at £1,000 per bottle. The proceeds went to For the North Foundation, a grant program created by Northern Monk. For the North Foundation is a program that offers £5000 to businesses, projects, or charities that aim to benefit the communities they serve. The overall goal of the foundation is to promote community development and collaboration.

Community and collaboration are really what Northern Monk is all about. The brewery brings people together, whether over a beer or for a creative project. For the North Foundation isn’t the only way Northern Monk involves the community, either. They also have their Patrons program. This initiative encourages collaboration and creativity among people all across the North. A Patron Project includes seven beers with limited edition packaging artwork. The beers for each project are also made with a unique recipe and ingredients. The can design is even specifically chosen for each patron. 

The results create distinct collaborations that allow photographers, artists, restaurant owners, and any other creative in the area to promote their work and tell their stories using a unique platform. Not to mention each of these collaborations produces new, inspired beers for people to enjoy.  

Less than 10 years after it opened, Northern Monk has managed to become a leading brewery in the UK craft beer scene while also fostering a sense of unity and connection with people 

throughout the region. Ultimately, Northern Monk isn’t just a brewery. It’s a community of people coming together to enjoy beer and participate in creative collaboration. 

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