Want to be a Trappist beer hunter? You have to know your prey:
First, don’t be confused by imitations. Many breweries (Affligem, Leffe, even New Jersey’s Flying Fish) produce abbey-style ales, but an authentic Trappist ale is made in a monastery.
The ales range in flavor and strength, but generally they’re amber-colored with a fruity aroma and spicy taste. Several are made with candy sugar, and all of them are bottle-conditioned.
Here’s the list:
- Chimay, from Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Scourmont. The best known of the Trappists, it produces three beers – Chimay Red, Grand Reserve (with a blue cap) and Cinq Cenlts (white cap).
- Orval, from Abbaye de Notre-Dame d’Orval. The brewery bottles just one ale whose three yeast strains produce a perfume-like aroma.
- Westvleteren, from Abdij Sint Sixtus. The smallest of the monasteries, it brews three strengths, known as 6°, 10° and 12°.
- Rochefort, from Abbaye de Notre-Dame de St. Remy. My favorite of the Trappists, it also brews three strengths, 6°, 8° and a smooth, chocolate-like 10°.
- Westmalle, from Abdij der Trappisten, which produces Dubbel and Tripel.
- Achel, from Sint-Benedictus Abdij. It produces two Blondes and a Bruine.
- La Trappe, from Abdij Koningshoeven. Even if purists say this one doesn’t count (it’s in the Netherlands), its Tripel and Quadrupel ales are superb. Look hard, and you might find its Blonde and Dubbel, too.
If you don’t want to lay out the bucks for authentic Trappists, try a homegrown micro. Here’s a sixpack of local Belgian-style ales:
- Yards Saison.
- Flying Fish Belgian Abbey Dubbel.
- Victory Golden Monkey.
- Weyerbacher Belgian Style Trippel.
- Heavyweight Lunacy Golden Ale.
- Stoudt’s Abbey Triple.