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Mini guide to Trappist beers

Birre trappiste | Enjoy Food & Wine
Written by EFW Staff

The definition of Trappist beer

Trappist is one of the best-known and famous beers that is realized and sold by the Trappist monks. Pay attention to not be mistaken with Abbey beer.

A beer can be defined “Trappist”, if it satisfies the following criteria:

1. The beer has to be produced inside the walls of a Trappist Abbey by Trappist monks or under their direct control.

2. The brewery has to be subjected to the direct control of the monastery and has to be coherent with the monastic project.

3. The brewery doesn’t have to aim to the final profit, but the earnings should be used for the sustenance of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings where the monks live. The rest is donated to no profit organization and people with economical difficulties.

It is necessary, in addition, that all the Trappist breweries follow the sanitary and security rules, paying attention to the consumer.

Trappist beer: history

Monaco trappista - Enjoy Food & Wine
Trappist monks follow the Benedictine rule and belong to the order of the Cistercian (O.C.S.O.), founded in XVII century by Arman Jean Le Bouthillier de Rancé.
De Rancé introduced a strict monastic rule focused on silence, contemplation and manual works following the Benedictine rule “Ora et labora”, reason why the monks were used to sale the goods produced inside the monastery, such as cheese, bread, small objects, textile and alcoholic beverages. The tradition tied with the production of the Trappist beer started here, in fact it is produced with simple and natural ingredients and it is considered as one of the best beers in the world.

Which beers can have the ITA label?

In 1997, eight Trappist Abbeys (six Belgian abbeys: Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achel, a German Abbey Mariawald and a Danish one Koningshoeven) decided to found the International Trappist Association (ITA), that aims to safeguard all the authentic Trappist products.
Today, only the following breweries are authorized to label their beers with the label “Authentic Trappist Product”: Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle and the beers by Stift Engelszell (Gregorius and Benno), Zundert (Holland) and Spencer (USA).

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EFW Staff