Priests and pints: Religious landmark and brewery unite to launch pilgrim beer

Brewery sales Manager, Jules Knight, left of cask, and Father Andreas Wenzel, right of cask, with pr

Brewery sales Manager, Jules Knight, left of cask, and Father Andreas Wenzel, right of cask, with priest administrator, Father Kevin Smith, left, and brewery operations manager, Rob Howlett, front second left, and some of the visiting priests, at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

A religious landmark which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year has begun a unique partnership with a neighbouring brewery.

Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery

Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and Barsham Brewery have joined forces to create Pilgrim's Pale Ale, celebrating more than a thousands years of pilgrimage to Walsingham.

Their creation, a Washington real ale, was initially thought up a year ago, when staff from the shrine walked to the brewery and enjoyed a tasting session.

Brewery sales Manager, Jules Knight, and Father Andreas Wenzel, at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale,

Brewery sales Manager, Jules Knight, and Father Andreas Wenzel, at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

At a special gathering on Thursday, February 6, the dream became a reality as the beer was officially launched.

Father Andreas Wenzel, shrine priest at Walsingham, said: "Together the shrine and brewery had this idea - wouldn't it be great to have a pilgrim's ale for those coming on a pilgrimage to Walsingham?

Father Kevin Smith, priest administrator, with the first pint at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a

Father Kevin Smith, priest administrator, with the first pint at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020


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"Everybody needs refreshment on the journey and it's something to look forward to - alongside the spiritual side of pilgrimage, of course.

"It celebrates the gifts of God and creation, the gift of the beautiful landscape in north Norfolk. We felt this was a wonderful way of bottling up all that goodness."

Jules Knight, brewery sales manager, speaks at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration bet

Jules Knight, brewery sales manager, speaks at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

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Founded in 1061 by Lady Richeldis following a vision of Mary the Mother of Jesus, the Our Lady of Walsingham shrine has been a place of pilgrimage since the 11th century.

It was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1538, but restored again in 1922 by Father Patten, the Anglican Vicar of Walsingham.

Father Kevin Smith, priest administrator, speaks at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboratio

Father Kevin Smith, priest administrator, speaks at the launch of Pilgrim's Pale Ale, a collaboration between The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and Barsham Brewery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The shrine welcomes 10,000 visitors a year from all over the world and, in conjunction with Thursday's launch, it hosted a pilgrimage of priests and deacons who were treated to a taste of

Jules Knight, sales manager at Barsham Brewery, added: "We spoke last year about the idea of maybe collaborating and potentially creating a beer with a religious, pilgrim slant to it, and that resulted in Pilgrim's Pale Ale.

"In the process we discovered this was a really good idea. There's a lot to celebrate, primarily a thousands years of pilgrimage to Walsingham.

"As a brewery we do everything locally. There are few that have such low food miles, and we know that's something really important to Walsingham as well."

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