Such a symbol of belgian tradition must not remain unexplained.
What is indeed, a Trappist beer?
Trappist beers constitute the flagship or belgian beer. The name references a type of beer brewed by a given catholic order of monks denominated as Trappist (or officially known as Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance). They stand as a religious order of cloistered monks that branched from the Cistercians.
This very specific denomination is only allowed to fourteen monasteries around the world to describe their beer production, as recognized by the International Trappist Association. Additionally, the “Authentic Trappist Product” label is assigned to the products of twelve of those breweries.
For a beer to be considered Trappist it must also fulfill three criteria: all products must be made within the immediate surroundings of the abbey, production must be carried out under the supervision of monks or nuns, and finally, profits should be intended for the needs of the monastery and the remainings destined to charity.
The current Trappist beers are:
- La Trappe
- Tre Fontane
- Tynt Meadow
- Mont des Cats
- Cerveza Cardeña
There's plenty to learn about each one of the trappist monasteries and the beers they produce. Some of the abbeys allow visitors to make a tour and see first hand the beer elaboration process, so if you ever are in Belgium, it is worth a small detour to visit some of them.