Written by: Christa Holden

On Saturday, November 11th, 2017, Adam and I drove down to Mt. Angel, OR to lend a hand in raising a timber frame for Benedictine Brewery. I thought it was a great topic to discuss sustainability. It was a long rewarding and beautiful day complete with an end of day toast and drinking of monk brewed beer. Mmmmm.


The site overlooked fields of hops used to brew the beer and I imagine it is a gorgeous sight/site when the hops are in full bloom. The timber frame was made of Doug Fir harvested from land owned by the monastery helping to cut some cost on materials. It was also important to them to honor the community tradition of raising a timber frame by calling on community volunteers and help cut labor costs. There were around 100 volunteers that came out to help including the monks. The brewery and tasting room is expected to be completed by early next summer.


Timber framing has a small but growing niche in the United States because of it’s sustainable qualities. If grown and harvested properly it has a lower carbon footprint than steel or concrete and actually absorbs as it grows and holds on to carbon. The energy used from processing, production and transport, from tree to consumer in the built environment is far less than that of steel, concrete and aluminum. Timber is naturally renewable since it can be grown and harvested. A well made timber structure can last centuries if maintained giving it a long shelf life. Designed and manufactured off sight also minimizes the amount of onsite waste and allows for fairly quick construction which obviously saves time and money.


Wood is aesthetically warm and attractive and naturally insulating helping to lower heating and cooling costs and emissions. Also, wood is a natural humidity regulator, absorbing and releasing moisture according to its surrounding environment.