The story seems to concern the "Bockbier" or "Doppelbockbier" brewed
by the monks of Bavaria in southern Germany.
"History: Doppelbockbier was initially brewed in 1629 by Paulaner
monks in the "Neudeck op der Au" monastery on the outskirts of Munich
and called "Sankt-Vaters-Bier". The monks wanted to compensate for the
greatly reduced intake of solid food during the fasting period through
appropriately nutritious drinks. However the manufacture of strong
beer had to have the consent of the Pope. To communicate with this
authority the impression of a tasty Doppelbockbier, the monks sent a
small barrel of the ?fasting beer? to Rome. However, its journey over
the Alps and warming-up under the Italian sun led to the beer being
already spoiled by the time it was delivered to the Holy Father. The
Pope tasted the brew and saw no reason why he should forbid his
brothers north of the Alps the enjoyment of the horrible-tasting
source: Bavarian Tourism
"Over the centuries, monks brewed a strong beer for consumption during
the fasting period of Lent, during which they were technically
supposed to drink only water. The story goes that the pope heard about
this custom and ordered that the beer be transported to Rome for him
to sample. When the pope finally tasted the beer (which didn't have
preservatives back then) after its long journey, he couldn't imagine
why anyone would want to drink it and decreed that the beer was strong
enough punishment for the Bavarian monks to drink it during Lent.
Today, all Munich breweries brew this strong beer during Lent. "
source: Frommers.com - Germany: Food & Drink
"In the monasteries, food was intended to be simple, and consumed
merely to sustain life. The monks, therefore, regarded beer primarily
as a source of nourishment instead of an indulgence. They had
discovered that beer ? if made strong enough and brewed from the best
grains ? was not only thirst quenching but a veritable "liquid bread."
This was important to the monks, especially during the Lenten season,
when no solid food was supposed to pass their lips. During Lent, they
brewed their beers as strong and substantial as possible. Their
argument was based on the ecclesiastic doctrine that "liquida non
frangunt ieunium" (liquids do not break the fast), made up by the
church fathers in Rome. The Holy See, however, knew very little about
According to legend, the production of monastery beer in those days
required a special permit from the ?boss? in Rome, who, of course,
needed to sample the beverage before he could make a decision. The
Bavarian monks, therefore, filled a cask of their brew and sent it by
slow, rumbling transport to the Vatican. Now, there is no surer way to
ruin the taste of even the best-made brew if it is alternately frozen
in the chilly Alpine passes and then cooked along the dusty roads of
sunny Italy. By the time the Pope got to sample the Bavarian brew, it
reputedly tasted sour and awful. So it is no surprise that the folks
at church headquarters found no objections to the Bavarian friars
making as much beer as they pleased. In fact, beer was deemed
beneficial for the monks? souls ? the more the better. Anyone who
drinks this stuff voluntarily, as far as the Holy See was concerned,
clearly deserved to go to heaven. "
source: Bayerischen Brauerbund e.V. - Bockbier
monks beer "to rome"
I hope this helps.