Trappist Breweries

This webpage is designated to those Trappist breweries with the official “Authentic Trappist Product” label on the beer. A Trappist brewery produces beer that is  brewed by or under control of Trappist monks and complies with the official rules of the International Trappist Association. These rules include:

  • The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under control of Trappist monks.
  • The brewery, the choices of brewing, and the commercial orientations must obviously depend on the monastic community.
  • The economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.

Today, there are a total of 8 officially licensed Trappist Abbeys: six from Belgium (Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Achel, Westmalle, and Westvleteren), one from the Netherlands (De Koningshoeven, branded as “La Trappe”) and one from Germany (Mariawald, however they no longer brew beer but make liqueurs).

Below is the list of Trappist Breweries in the order reviewed:

ACHEL

The Achel Brewery is located in the Abbey of St. Benedict in the Campine region of Limburg, Belgium. The first beer to be brewed on the site was the Patersvaatje in 1852. However, in 1917, the brewery was shut down by the Germans so they could salvage copper. In 1998, monks rebuilt the brewery and started brewing again.

Year-Rounds/Seasonals:

ACHEL BLONDE 8°: 92 Points

Cumulus Clouds in the forecast

Released in 2001, this Belgian Tripel is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.

My Description: This beer has a such a massive head that it took me minutes to pour the whole bottle; it is bright white with an amazing retention quality. The aroma of the beer is light and fresh with notes of Belgian yeast, light fruit, and some bubblegum. The beer is light to medium bodied with a higher carbonation level. Up front there are flavor notes of light fruit, some bubblegum sweetness, a touch of citrus, and a touch of warming alcohol. The finish has a delicious clove flavor with a dash of bitterness. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled white fish, pork chops, or jerk chicken.

ABV: 8%  Color: Hazy Pale  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

CHIMAY

The Chimay Brewery is located in The Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey, Belgium. The Abbey has been brewing beer since 1862 by monks or overseen by monks. Today, they produce three different beers for market sale and a secret beer only available in the Abbey. They use a special yeast strain that was isolated by Father Théodore as early as 1948 to give Chimay its own unique taste an quality. The beer is sold all over the world.

www.chimay.com

Year-Rounds/Seasonals:

CHIMAY PREMIÉRE (RED): 95 Points

The Original Chimay

Chimay Red was the first beer brewed at the Chimay brewery in 1862, it’s current recipe dates from the late 1940’s. It is available year-round in 330 ml. bottles or 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This Trappist beer possesses a beautiful coppery colour that makes it particularly attractive. Topped with a creamy head, it gives off a slight fruity apricot smell from the fermentation. The aroma felt in the mouth is a balance confirming the fruit nuances revealed to the sense of smell. This traditional Belgian beer is best savoured at cellar temperature.”

My Description: Chimay Red is the flagship beer of this company and there is nothing wrong with that, it tastes delicious. It has a grand off-white colored head that holds forever, giving you a great head all the way to the last sip producing minimal lacing. The aroma is fresh with the scent of malt, yeast esters, sweet fruits like apricots and white raisins, and a little breadiness. The beer is medium bodied with a medium carbonation level that coats your mouth and is very smooth and complex. The front of your mouth will taste a nice sweet base with flavor notes of honey, apricots, some yeast, and a slight hint of alcohol. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a hint of sourness and dark fruit. Overall, this beer is delicious and the flavors work really well together. It is best served around 52°F and pairs nicely with mild cheeses, dark chocolate, or roasted duck.

ABV: 7% Color: Brown/Copper Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10

CHIMAY CINQ CENTS (WHITE): 94 Points

Perfect head retention

This Triple is available year-round in limited quantities in 330 ml. bottles and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: ” Of a golden colour, the Trappist beer combines sweet and bitter in a rare balance. The beer’s aroma felt in the mouth comes from the hops’ perfumes: above all, they are fruity touches of Muscat grapes and raisins, even ripe apples.”

My Description: This triple is delicious and enjoyable, another high quality ale from the Chimay brewery. The head is completely ridiculous on this beer. It is off-white in color and very fluffy. It produces some good lacing but the real amazement comes from the retention; it stays big and fluffy to the very last sip where there will be foam on the bottom of the glass. The aroma will reveal the slight complexities of this ale; it has a nice sweet base with scents of Belgian yeast, hops, spice, grapes, and other lighter fruits. The beer is fuller in body with a good carbonation level. The taste up front will be slightly sweet with flavors of grapes and light fruits with the hint of spice. The finish will be dry and moderately bitter with a touch of alcohol. Overall, the transition of flavors is smooth and the beer is refreshing and memorable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with bistro salads, grilled fish, or honey ham.

ABV: 8% Color: Hazy Gold/Brown Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 4/10

CHIMAY GRANDE RÉSERVE (BLUE): 100 Points

Nice and Strong

This Belgian Strong was originally brewed as a Christmas Ale but is now available year-round in 330 ml. bottles and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This authentic Belgian beer, whose tinge of fresh yeast is associated with a light rosy flowery touch, is particularly pleasant. Its aroma, perceived as one enjoys it, only accents the delightful sensations revealed by the odour, all revealing a light but agreeable caramelized note.”

My Description: Thank God they decided to brew this beer all the time as part of their year-rounds because it is damn good. It pours a decent tan colored head that fades quick but holds a thick film the whole way. There is also some good lacing going on as well. The aroma gets you excited about drinking this ale; it is strong with notes of dark fruit, malt, and alcohol. It is a full bodied beer with a slightly higher carbonation level. When you start drinking this ale you will see how delicious it is; it starts off with a sweet base with flavor notes of Belgian yeast, caramel malt, and dark fruits like plums. You feel the strength of this beer but taste the alcohol only minimally. The finish is only slightly bitter with a touch of spice. As it warms up, more dark fruit flavors will become apparent that add to the enjoyment of the ale. It is best served around 52°F and pairs nicely with French cheeses, game meat, or raspberry duck.

ABV: 9% Color: Hazy Brown Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10

CHIMAY SPÉCIALE CENT CINQUANTE: 95 Points

An Expensive Anniversary

An Expensive Anniversary

This Belgian Strong Ale is highly limited as it is only brewed once. It is available in 750 ml. bottles for around $20-$25.

Brewer’s Description: “This special edition is a full bodied and distinctive strong beer developed within the abbey to celebrate and honour the 150th anniversary of the brewery. Produced with 100% natural ingredients,its pale golden robe and champagne sparkle is topped by a rich white head of foam. The distinctive bouquet evokes the rich fruity and complex notes of the Chimay yeast in harmony with a delicate spicy note and the fragrance of fresh noble hops. At 10% alcohol, the flavour is full bodied and complex with a slight but refreshing tang note and a crisp hop finish that will delight the palate.”

My Description: This brew is definitely delicious and highly enjoyable. However, is it really worth the price you are going to pay? That judgement is reserved for you, the buyer. It is not necessarily any better than the best Belgian Strong Ale’s out there but it is a very limited beer and it should be treated like a fine wine, reserved for a special occasion. It has a beautiful and dense, white colored head with an amazing retention level and it leaves an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is slightly complex and fresh with notes of spices, pears, hops, yeast, and a touch of alcohol. This ale is roughly medium/full bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. It has a smooth, creamy texture and the alcohol is slightly apparent but not intrusive. The flavors are tasty and work nicely together. There is a delicate spice note of white pepper throughout accompanied by floral notes, citrus, green apple, and a hint of malt. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and will linger for a few seconds. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled grouper, salmon salad, or shrimp pasta.

ABV: 10%  Color: Orange/Bronze  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 3.5/10

LA TRAPPE

Officially known as Brouwerij de Koningshoeven, La Trappe is part of the International Trappist Association. “Of the eight trappist breweries, Koningshoeven is the most commercialised. The brewery is currently operated by De Koningshoeven NV, a subsidiary of the Bavaria Brewery, but the buildings and equipment are owned by the abbey. The monks of the abbey are the ultimate authority on the brewing process. However, the secular company runs the business operations. The abbey also houses a bar and shop/museum, the latter of which is staffed by a monk. As with all other Trappist breweries, the brewery exists in order to finance the monastery, not for profit or any other commercial reason. Originally the brewery was called De Schaapskooi, and this name is still used casually especially around the region.”

www.latrappetrappist.com

Year-Round/Seasonals:

DUBBEL: 91 Points

Taste the Silence

Taste the Silence

This Belgian Dubbel is available year-round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “La Trappe Dubbel has a deep brown colour and attractive beige froth. The use of caramel malt gives it a gentle aromatic caramelised quality. It has a rich malty flavour with a touch of sweetness. Post-fermenting La Trappe Dubbel is a smooth drink, and yet has some real body and intense flavour to it.”

My Description: This is a complex beer with great fruit notes and an extremely smooth body. It begins with a good sized, tan colored head that lasts for some time leaving behind some spotty lacing. The aroma smells nice with notes of raisins, sugar, bread, malt, yeast spices, and a hint of wood. Dubbel is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A nicely balanced flavor profile begins with a malty backbone holding up tasty notes of ripe dark fruits like raisins and plums along with red cherries. Some yeast spice notes add a welcoming flavor component and the alcohol is nicely hidden behind the plethora of fruit notes. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with some lingering spice notes. This beer is more on the sweeter side as it correct to the style and a pleasure to drink. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, grilled lamb chops, or dark chocolate.

ABV: 7% Color: Mahogany Brown Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

ISID’OR: 93 Points

The First Monk

The First Monk

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Named after brother Isidorus, Koningshoeven Abbey’s first brewer. Brewed to mark the occasion of the Trappist brewery’s 125th anniversary in 2009, Isid’or was so well received that it earned itself a permanent place in La Trappe’s line-up. Unfiltered, slightly sweet amber ale with a hint of caramel, which continues to ferment after bottling and has a rich, slightly bitter flavour, and a fruity aftertaste.”

My Description: It’s easy to see how this became a permanent beer in the La Trappe lineup. It pours a large, manila colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is a mixture of sweet notes and Belgian yeast: caramel malt, light fruits, bananas, and a hint of yeast spice. Isid’or is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and semi-dry finish. A strong malt backbone holds up flavor notes of caramel, bread, green apples and other light fruit notes, and bananas. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and clean. Smooth and slightly creamy, this is a great beer for any occasion. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with pork chops, grilled portabella mushrooms, or chicken skewers.

ABV: 7.5% Color: Orange/Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10

TRIPEL: 91 Points

Strong and Flavorful

Strong and Flavorful

This Belgian Style Tripel is available year-round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “La Trappe Tripel’s aroma is slightly malty and estery. Despite its full, rich flavour, this out-of-the-ordinary ale still has a light and dry aftertaste with a touch of bitter finesse.”

My Description: A clean and refreshing beer, this Tripel boasts enjoyable flavors and a smooth body. It pours a decent and fizzy, white colored head that fades to a film that holds the whole way leaving behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is on the sweeter side with complex notes of bubblegum, biscuit malt, coriander, and light fruit notes; these notes blend cleanly together to create a welcoming experience. Tripel is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose with a bit more complexity. There are notes of bubblegum and yeast spices floating throughout while hints of pears and white grapes delight. The alcohol is nicely hidden but it will be felt. The aftertaste is slightly bitter making this an easy drinking beer. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled whitefish, sautéed snapper, or a kale salad.

ABV: 8% Color: Hazy Orange/Brown Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3/10

QUADRUPEL: 95 Points

Strong and Clean

Strong and Clean

This Abbey Quad is available year round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Quadrupel is La Trappe’s heaviest ale with a stunning amber colour. Its warm and intense flavour is rich and finely balanced. Malty sweet, slightly burnt, and pleasantly bitter with a sweet aftertaste. Quadrupel continues to ferment after bottling and offers aromas of banana, almond, vanilla and others.”

My Description: This is a great example of a Trappist Quad. It pours a very large, off-white colored head that lasts a long time and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming and complex with plentiful fruit notes and noticeable caramel malt. There are also hints of dates and brown sugar. Quadrupel is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is even more complex than the aroma. Notes of bananas and almonds come through nicely. Fruit notes of raisins and figs delight the palate while a touch of pepper helps bring balance. Malt and honey are also present and the aftertaste is minimally bitter. The alcohol is nicely hidden but can be tasted slightly, adding character. As much as I like the flavors of this beer, at times I felt it could have been slightly more dense. Never-the-less, this beer is great and worthy of a go to Quad. It is best served around 55° and pairs nicely with lobster tail, grilled lamb chops, or a baked duck with raspberry sauce.

ABV: 10% Color: Amber/Brown Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

ORVAL

The Orval Brewery is a located within the walls of the Abbey Notre-Dame d’Orval in the Gaume region of Belgium. The present day brewery was built in 1931 and produces only two beers, one for the public and one strictly for the monastery.

Year-Rounds/Seasonals:

ORVAL: 97 Points

Surprisingly Tropical

This Belgian Pale Ale is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.

My Description: Considering that this is brewed in Europe, I wasn’t expecting a tropical fruit like flavor in the beer. Well, some of the greatest things in the world come unexpectedly. It has a great, fluffy, off-white colored head that retains greatly and also produces a great amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and exciting with notes of malty sweetness, light tropical fruits, and earthy hops. The beer is medium bodied, dry, with a slightly higher carbonation level. The flavors are delicious. There are tastes of tropical fruits like mango and orange. There is some Belgian yeast spices and a slightly lingering earthy hop bitterness in the finish. You may even pick up a slight touch of sour. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with lamb chops, Mushroom Swiss burgers, or Tuscan style salads.

ABV: 6.9%  Color: Brownish/Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 3/10

BRASSERIE DE ROCHEFORT

The Rochefort Brewery is located in the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy, right outside the city of Rochefort, Belgium. The Abbey has been brewing beer since 1595 by monks or overseen by monks. The brewery is not open to the public and the monks are very secret about their brewing techniques. They brew according to their own agenda and not the market demand. The beer is only sold in order to financially support the monastery and some other charitable causes.

Year-Rounds/Seasonals:

ROCHEFORT 6: 94 Points

Feeling religious?

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is available year-round in limited quantities in 11.2 oz. bottles.

My Description: Trappist monks set the bar when it comes to brewing these styles of beer and Rochefort 6 is another bar setter. It has a big and bubbly light tan head that fades to a film that holds the rest of the way producing minimal lacing. The aroma has more of a sweet base accompanied by a mixture of pleasing scents such as some spice, malt, yeast, and fruits like raisins. The beer is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level. The beer has a sweet base all around with flavor notes of biscuits, dark fruit, and a hint of spice and alcohol. The finish leaves a lingering sweetness with the hint of licorice. The beer is not rich but smooth and very easy to drink making it feel like an everyday beer. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with sausages, chocolate desserts, or gourmet cheeses.

ABV: 7.5%  Color: Hazy Brown  Sweetness: 4/10  Bitterness: 1/10

ROCHEFORT 8: 100 Points

Thank God for monks

This Belgian style Dubbel Abbey Ale is available year-round in limited supply in 11.2 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: Belgian Ale

My Description: This is Rochefort’s most popular beer and it is clear why. This beer is on its own level of greatness and quality. These monks have been passing down their knowledge in secret for hundreds of years and they have mastered brewing. This beer has a nice sized bubbly/fluffy head that has great retention with decent lacing. The aroma is slightly sweet with notes of dark fruit and yeast. The taste of this beer is amazing. It has flavors of dark fruit, raisins, with a hint of spice. It is bisquity and sweet. There is a lot going on but they all work together in perfect harmony to make you wish you had a second bottle. It has a minor alcohol hint with a slightly higher carbonation level. I cannot say anymore, you must drink this beer to find out for yourself. It is best served around 50°F. Enjoy!

ABV: 9.2%  Color: Hazy Brown  Sweetness: 4.5/10  Bitterness: 1/10

ROCHEFORT 10: 99 Points

Strong and Delicious

This Quad is available year-round in limited supply in 11.2 oz. bottles.

My Description: Probably one of the best Quads on the market. I immediately wished I had a second bottle right after my first sip. It has a big and fluffy tan colored head with an amazing retention quality. The lacing is really good and overall the head is great for this level ABV. The aroma is bold and strong. It smells so good with fragrant notes of caramel malt, some sweetness, and a hint of alcohol. The beer is full bodied and nicely carbonated. Up front you will taste dark fruits like raisins and plums, caramel, and a touch of sugar. This leads into an aftertaste that is semi-sweet and bisquity with a hint of spice. The flavors work perfectly together and the overall experience is divine. It is best enjoyed around 52°F and pairs nicely with lamb chops, filet mignon, or baked brie.

ABV: 11.3%  Color: Dark Mahogany  Sweetness: 4.5/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

WESTMALLE BREWERY

Founded in 1836, Westmalle Brewery is located in the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in the Antwerp province of Belgium. All of the beer is either produced by monks or overseen by monks. They began brewing beer in 1836 and in the 1930’s they introduced the world to a strong pale ale known as Tripel, this was the first time the Tripel name was used to describe a beer.

Year-Rounds/Seasonals:

DUBBEL: 95 Points

Dubbel the Enjoyment

This Belgian Style Dubble is available year-round.

Brewer’s Description: “The cream-colored foam collar smells of special malt and leaves a nice pattern in the glass. The flavor is rich and complex, spicy and fruity with a bitter-fresh finish. It is a balanced quality beer with a soft mouthfeel and a long, dry finish.”

My Description: I really enjoyed this Dubble, it has a slightly higher bitterness level than other Trappist Dubbels, which is nice because it gives the bitter lovers a great beer to drink. It has a good sized tan colored head that retains well. The aroma is on the sweeter side with fragrant notes of Belgian yeast, dark fruit, and a touch of alcohol. It is medium/full bodied with a higher carbonation level. Up front you will taste the sweet caramel notes as well some dark fruit flavors like figs, there is also some malt presence as well. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a touch of spice and a hint of alcohol. Overall, the beer is balanced and delicious. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, lamb chops, or cedar plank salmon.

ABV: 7%  Color: Hazy Brown/Red  Sweetness: 4/10  Bitterness: 3/10

TRIPEL: 97 Points

The Original

This Belgian Style Tripel is available year-round.

Brewer’s Description: “It is a complex beer with a fruity aroma and a beautiful, nuanced hop nose. It tastes sweet and creamy in the mouth with a bitter touch of fruit flavor. An exceptional beer, with plenty of finesse and elegance, and a wonderfully long finish.”

My Description: The recipe has been unchanged since 1956 and I see no reason to start now. It has a big bubbly head with an amazing retention; the head lasts the whole way producing some good lacing as well. The aroma smells big and fresh with fragrant notes of spices, some floral hops, apricots, and lemon. The nose on this beer is so beautiful and only gets better as it warms up. Overall, the beer is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and dry in the finish. Up front you will taste some sweetness with notes of light fruit and lemon with a touch of coriander. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with more of the spices coming through like cloves. The alcohol is not hidden but subtle enough to not take away from the overall enjoyment of the beer. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled fish, Hawaiian pizza, or a lighter chicken dish.

ABV: 9.5%  Color: Hazy Orange  Sweetness: 4/10  Bitterness: 3.5/10