About Trappist Beer
A Trappist beer is a beer brewed by or under control of Trappist monks. The sales of Trappist Beers help the monks to be self-supporting and extra’s go to the renovation of the Monasteries or social organisations.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, Trappist beers are ales produced by the 7 brewing abbeys still in existence in the Netherlands (Schaapskooi) and in Belgium (Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, St. Sixtus, Achel and Westmalle in Belgium). That means a Trappist beer is a beer brewed by (mostly unde rcontrol) of the monks. The Trappist beers are generally dark amber (depending if you’re drinking a double Trappist or a Triple Trappist), strong to brown in color, strongly and sometimes more sweet flavored and range in alcohol from +/-6 to 13 percent.
Not less then 171 Trappist monasteries (2005 number) exist, but only 7 are authorised to produce a Trappist with the ‘Authentic Trappist Product logo’. One of the fundamentals for the production of the Trappist beers is that the production of the monasteries should be self-supporting.
In the past, the Trappists only produced their beer for self-sufficiency. Today, Trappist breweries tend to be more commercial but the earnings still go to their works and good causes.
In the past, the Trappist brewery’s where nearly spread in Western-Europe: there were Trappist brewery’s in France (originated there), in Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and even in Bosnia. Nowadays, only Belgium keeps the tradition (6 Trappist brewery’s), together with a Trappist brewery just over the Belgian border, in the Netherlands.
Belgium has a large tradition of strong beers (about 6-14%) with a lot of character in their taste. But only 7 are real ‘Trappist beers’. All the others are just ‘ordinary’ (but still delicious) ‘Abbey beers’.
The most hard to get Trappist beer is Westvleteren, which makes it a ‘must drink’ item for many beer lovers. You have to phone to the monks and arrange a meeting to get your 24 bottles of Westvleteren. In some pubs you also can order them.
More easy to buy are most of the other trappists. You just go in a supermarket and can buy nearly always Chimay or Westmalle (even the big bottles). And mostly it’s very cheap: about 3 EURO’s for one bottle of 75cl!
You will find the Trappist beers Orval, Rochefort mostly in the South part in Belgium, or the better supermarket in Flanders (North part). The Achel Trappist you can buy mostly in supermarkets located in the province of Limburg (East of Belgium).
Most trappist brewery’s have a possibility to be visited – and mostly you can visit the brassery/pub of the brewery and start tasting.
Did you know that the Trappist monastery’s also produce other delicious food or drinks? Check out what diverse products the monks make.
I’m a passionate Belgian beer drinker. One of my favourite beers are Trappist beers. I would like to share my passion with the rest of the world.