What are Trappist Ales?
Of all the beers in the world, only eleven may carry the "Authentic Trappist Product" logo*: the beers of Chimay, La Trappe, Mount St. Bernard, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle, Stift Engelszell, Zundert, Spencer, and Tre Fontane.
A Trappist beer is only given this name if it satisfies a number of strict criteria:
- The beer is brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
- The brewery must be controlled by the monastery and have a business culture compatible with the monastic project.
- The purpose of the brewery is not to make a profit. The income takes care of the livelihood of the monks and the upkeep of the abbey site. What is left over is used for charitable purposes, social work and people in need.
- The Trappist breweries produce beers of an impeccable quality that is tightly controlled.
*According to the International Trappist Association, the Trappist beer "Mont-des-Cats" is not eligible to carry the logo (because the product must be produced within the monastery which markets the product, and it is currently produced at Scourmont Abbey), but this in no way detracts from the fact that it is a quality Trappist beer.
Taste: Trappist breweries are best known for classic styles such as Dubbels, Tripels and Quadrupels. All are top-fermented and most are bottle-conditioned. The expansion of Trappist breweries outside of Belgium has brought with it an expansion in styles, including IPAs, Lagers, Pilsners and Stouts - all brewed in the monastic tradition of excellence.