Holy Beer And Chocolate! Trappistine Chocolate and Trappist Beer, that Is!
That’s why the nuns of St. Mary’s here in Wrentham and their brothers at St. Joseph in Spencer joined efforts to produce a beer and chocolate gift set for this holiday season.
The limited offer will appear next week, on the shelves of select craft beer stores in Massachusetts; an attractive 750 ml bottle of Spencer Trappist Ale, crowned with a package of Trappistine Dark Pairing Chocolates. Yum!
Trappist monks and nuns, who live by the rule of St. Benedict, are directed by that rule to “live by the work of their hands”. Each community has its own business with which it supports its life of prayer. Here in Massachusetts, it’s the sisters of Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey with their handcrafted candies. In Spencer, it’s the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey, long known for their Trappist Preserves, who are now producing the first Belgian-style Trappist Ale ever to be produced on US soil. And there are more flavors on the way.
While the Trappist monks and their sisters across the country have long touted and supported one another’s products, they saw this as a unique opportunity to come together and create a pairing of their specialties.
“The dark chocolates pair well with the Spencer Trappist Ale – and we anticipate they’ll be even better with the Trappist Imperial Stout – planned for release in January,” commented marketing director Mary Jo Finkenstaedt of Trappistine Quality Candy.
“We are pleased to be able to pair our chocolates with the traditional ales for which the Trappists are so well-known in Europe. We hope to increase consumer awareness of our inter-connection, and the long history of the order’s dedication to quality and value that is synonymous with anything Trappist.”
In the meantime, the monks will release a special brew for the holidays – Trappist Holiday Ale. Look for it, too, at your local craft beer stores.
Trappist products are invariably top-rate, made with the highest quality ingredients, and with the highest ethical and production standards, as this is part of the credo by which they live. Therefore, their products are delicious, but what’s more, their prices are moderate, as the Benedictine Rule also guides them to charge a little less than the competition.
Because the Trappists are in business solely to support their austere life of prayer, their profit margins are not bloated by ever-rising goals for growth. Therefore they can afford to continue to use pure, high- quality ingredients while keeping prices under control.
While other chocolate companies were forced to increase their prices last year, sometimes to the tune of 8% across the board, Trappistine Quality Candy has been able to keep their increases moderate.
Yes, they are still affected by rising costs of ingredients, and transportation costs. And, since their work hours are strictly limited, in order to keep their focus on prayer and their cloistered life of prayer, the sisters will never be able to enjoy the economies of scale that come with extended working hours and an elastic workforce.
Nonetheless, their products are offered at competitive prices, even though their quality easily surpasses that of their competition.
The sisters’ Candy Council, which steers the candy making business, is devising ways that the business can survive the increasing costs of transportation, ingredients, and utilities, and the limitations that come with static workforce hours.
Utilization of their land for renewable energy has helped them defray increasing costs.
In addition, with the help of their Marketing Director, Mary Jo Finkenstaedt and outside consultant Chip Strapp, the sisters are building a wholesale network for their candy. You can now find their candy at select Whole Foods Markets, Roche Brothers, and a number of gift shops in the area, including With Heart and Hand in Norfolk and Terrazza in Franklin and Wellesley.
In celebration of their 60th year of candy making, the sisters enhanced the look of their packaging last year to make it more suitable for gift-giving. Today’s candy comes in pearlized boxes, tastefully adorned with a colorful new logo reminiscent of illuminated script, and a beautiful fabric grosgrain ribbon.
Corporations looking for gift items for their vendors, clients, and employees now have a variety of attractive options to choose from – whether it be a single box, or a beautifully arranged combination of products. Individuals, churches, and organizations who have long purchased Trappistine candy by the case now will receive the candy in the new pearlized packaging which has a gift-wrapped appearance and is ready-to-give. And if they want the bow for a finishing touch, they can purchase the boxes with the ribbon already applied.
“We spent a little more on the ribbons – they are custom-made fabric, grosgrain ribbons, hand-tied and sewn with bows – because we want to reflect the quality of the product inside, and also provide our customers with a ready-to-give gift. We hope that everyone will appreciate our beautiful new package design, and share it as is – or adorned with one of our ribbons,” added Finkenstaedt.
The sisters are also supporting a year-round promotion of their products. While Trappistine Quality Candy has long been a traditional gift for Christmas and Thanksgiving, the sisters are looking for new ways to package their products and for new products, so that customers will purchase them throughout the year – whether for traditional holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, or for birthdays and anniversaries.
“Candy is a gift for all occasions, and we want to remind the public year-round that it would give us great joy to be part of their celebrations. Year-round sales will also help the sisters to maintain the balance between work and prayer that is characteristic of their life,” commented Chip Strapp, an independent consultant who is helping the sisters with growing the business.
“We hope you’ll stop by our gift shop this fall/holiday season. We are opening the gift shop on Sundays from 2-4 between now and Christmas for your convenience.
Think of us when you stop by the Big Apple. We’re just a short way up the road and can offer a sweet finish to your visit,” adds Mother Maureen, Abbess.
Stop by our Chapel for some quiet reflection, or participate in our liturgy of the hours. All are welcome!