Beer sales help rebuild California monastery

Published:

VINA, Calif. (AP) -- Monks in a small Northern California town are rebuilding a 16th Century Spanish monastery with help from what may seem an unlikely source: beer.

The first phase of the building's decades-long restoration project in the Sacramento Valley town of Vina has been completed, with the Chapter House of Ovila now standing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In the 1930s, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst bought the former Trappist monastery and imported it from Spain for an estate that was never realized. He had planned to use parts of the church for an indoor swimming pool changing room.

Once that project was scrapped, Hearst donated the monastery's pieces to the city of San Francisco, but the dismantled building sat forgotten in Golden Gate Park for more than 60 years.

The Vina monks credit the founder of their abbey, Father Thomas X. Davis, with the idea of restoring the remains to the Trappist community. Davis saw the stones at Golden Gate Park when he arrived in San Francisco in 1955 and began a campaign to bring them to Vina.

The city eventually agreed to turn over the stones to the abbey. The Chapter House was rebuilt with the help of millions of dollars raised by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in nearby Chico.

The brewers created a series of Ovila Abbey ales inspired by Belgian Trappist monks, an order that to this day makes some of the finest beers in the world

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