Not all trappist ales come from Belgium. La Trappe (the name comes from the ancient abbey ‘La Trappe’ in France) is a trappist ale made in the Netherlands and is thereby an exception in the trappist beer family. The Abbey of Our Lady, the host of La Trappe, is situated in Koningshoeven. That is only 3 kilometres from the student city Tilburg (100 000 inhabitants), but also less then 10 kilometres from the Belgian border.
The Koningshoeven Abbey was founded in 1881. At that time the French Government didn’t like the Church. The abbot of the monastery Mont des Cats was worried and was looking for another place. And that place became Koningshoeven.
One of the first monks entering the abbey came from Munich in Germany and was the son of a brewer. The first Superior (Don Nivard) thought it would be a good idea starting a brewery. He was searching for an additional activity for gaining some income.
Many years later the number of monks in the Abbey of Koningshoeven are slightly reduced. Therefor the brewery made an agreement with the Dutch brewing company Bavaria. From that day the monastery transferred her name in “The Koningshoeven Inc.” and became an independent daughter company of Bavaria.
But that doesn’t mean the monks have no role anymore in the production of La Trappe, the trappist beer which is produced in the Abbey of Koningshoeven.
Bavaria may be producing the trappist beers, but that happens still under the supervision of the Monks. And the monks still take control of the distribution of the beer. There are also 2 directors of the brewery: one is someone from outside the monastery and is responsible for daily administration. The other one is a monk appointed by the abbot. They report to the board, on which the abbot has a seat as well as several advisory members from outside the monastery.
Another activity the monks do themselves is supporting the packaging of the giftboxes. You can buy these giftboxes as well as other products (candy, special spent grain bread, chocolate,…) in their monastery store. If you are there you should try the Quattruffles: chocolate truffles in which the monks put Quadruple beer as one of their ingredients.
Like all authentic trappist beer brewery’s, the hard work of a monk is not translated in his own profit. The income generated by the selling of the trappist beers goes to their living (maintenance, their own food) and other part goes to people who need it in their community.