The monks of Ghastbury Abbey and Alanis Morissette

The monks from Ghastbury Abbey (pictured) have delivered their own special brand of elderberry wine to Hogg Hall since 1803. The monastery is just over ten miles away but the brothers painstaking roll the barrels to Potter’s Crotch by hand. By the time they arrive their hands are calloused and bleeding and their feet are sore and blistered. The monks are, of course, delighted with these injuries and it is the main reason they make the journey. Hogg Hall’s usual order is twenty barrels, which means that some of the brothers are forced to make two journeys, and the pain and discomfort of this ordeal brings them ever closer to the Lord.

The monks have their own secret recipe, and sacred rituals, for making the wine. They pick the elderberries by hand, then crush them with their feet while listening to Alanis Morissette. Then they pour the crushed berries into a huge copper pot with a hundred quarts of water and add 30 pounds of sugar, bringing the mixture to a slow simmer and turning off the heat.

The juice is then poured into a 50 gallon bathtub in the monks’ latrine block, and while they are waiting for it to cool to room temperature they go outside into the cloisters, hitch up their habits, and play Frisbee.

There is a special monk called Brother Tartaric whose job it is to test the juice for acid and chuck in another ten or twenty pounds of sugar. He also adds something called pectic enzyme which he keeps in a tiny glass vial attached to his belt. Three days later the abbot adds a small pinch of yeast nutrient and six bottles of Tequila.

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