Now, we all need a little history in our lives. Knowing the origin of beers will make you understand the complexity of the beer, the flavors of the beer and make you appreciate that specific style of beer even more than you already do. In light of Beer Blotter’s upcoming trip to Belgium, we wanted to provide our readers with some insight into Belgium beers and the monks that brew them.
Trappist beers, are a style of Belgium beers brewed by the Trappist order of monks. The Trappist order originated during the Middle Ages in the Cistercian monastery of La Trappe, France. Currently there are only seven breweries (six in Belgium) authorized to label their beers with the Authentic Trappist Product logo that indicates a compliance to various rules edicted by the International Trappist Association. The following are the six Belgium Trappist breweries and a few factoids about each one:
The “baby” of Trappist breweries, the Saint Benedictus Abbey of Achel is the first monastery to take up brewing in Belgium since 1931. Producing beers such as, Achel (Bruin and Blonde) 5° and Achel (Bruin and Blonde) 6° – which are available only at the pub on the grounds of the Abbey. The new Achel 8° is only available in the bottle and is hard to find even in Belgium; in the U.S. it will be the rarest of beers.
Founded in in 1838 inside the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgian, all of the beers are sold exclusively at the brewery. Even more reason to go to Belgium! The Trappist Westvleteren Blond (green cap), Westvleteren 8 (blue cap) and Westvleteren 12 (yellow cap) can be bought by the case or the bottle and tasted at the brewery with a reservation made prior to your visit. Due to the brewery’s growing popularity visitors are limited to limited to one order per car per per telephone number within any given month.
Located within the walls of the Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval monastery in the Gaume region of Belgium, this brewery produces only one beer for the general public. According to www.ratebeer.com, “it has an intensely aromatic and dry character. Between the first and second fermentations there is also an additional dry-hopping process. Through this the beer acquires its pronounced hoppy aroma and extra dry taste.”
The Abbey of St-Remy, where Rochefort beer is brewed is located in the southern part of Belgium and was founded in 1230. The monks began to brew beer around 1595. Three beers are produced out of this abbey: the “6″ or Red Cap, “8″ or Green Cap and the “10″ or Blue Cap. All are darker Belgium beers with “10″ being the darkest. As far as visiting the brewery, the monks are very secretive about the brewing process, and the brewery is not open to the public.
The most famous of the Trappist breweries, as it is commonly found state side. Chimay beers have been brewed in the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont since 1862. Three beers (or three strong personalities according to the brewery’s website), Chimay Red, Chimay Triple and Chimay Blue grace many tap lists and bottle shops around our country, so get out an try a trappist beer! Like many of the breweries, they do not invite just anyone to the grounds, only those involved in the beer industry are welcome to visit.
On April 22, 1836, Westmalle Brewery, located in the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle became a trappist abbey. On December, 10 1836 the monks served their first brew of Trappist beer at lunch. These days, Westmalle brews three beers (three seems to be the lucky trappist brewing number) including Westmalle Dubbel (9.5% and light), Westmalle Tripel (a dark Belgium beer) and Westmalle Extra. Since this brewery is located within the walls of the abbey, visitors are not allowed.
In closing, Trappist breweries do not profit from beer brewing or beer sales. The surplus profit made off of the beers is donated to charity.
So, what did we learn from this post? Beglium Trappist beers are brewed by monks that have been at it for a very long time, these beers are generally rare and visiting these breweries seems damn near impossible for the average beer drinker. None the less, these beers are brewed to perfection and worth crossing the Atlantic Ocean.