Belgian Abbey Beers

Maredsous Abbey Beer (Copyright Tanguy Vercamer)
Discover Belgian abbey beers, their brewing method, and the history of this beer in this article. Leffe, Maredsous, Saint-Bernardus...

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The Brewing of Abbey Beers.

Firstly, abbey beer is a top-fermented beer. Belgian abbey beers are a reference in this type of beer. Moreover, the appellation “abbey” comes from the fact that its brewing was done in an abbey.

Like other types of beers, abbey beers frequently include a Double and a Triple in their range. Regarding the alcohol volume in the beer, a Triple typically refers to a blonde beer with approximately 7 to 9% alcohol by volume, while a Double is a dark beer with around 6% alcohol by volume.

However, the definition requires more precision. Originally, Triple meant that the beer had a raw material content three times higher than a pilsner-type beer. The principle is the same for a double, except that the ratio is equal to two.

(Photo: Originally, Triple means that the beer has a raw material content three times higher than a pilsner-type beer.)

Leffe and Grimbergen Beer
Originally, Triple signifies that the beer has a raw material content three times higher than a pilsner type beer.

The History of Abbey Beers.

In the past, monastic orders brewed beer within their monasteries. Over the centuries, and following the French Revolution, brewing activity disappeared from the abbeys.

In the 19th century, brewing gradually resumed in certain Belgian abbeys. In the course of the 20th century, religious orders entrusted production to external brewers who produced beer under license.

Among all Belgian abbey beers, some do not necessarily have a connection with an existing community. Indeed, some are dedicated to ruins, churches, sanctuaries, or saints. To guarantee better transparency, breweries that have entered into a commercial agreement with an abbey display the label “Recognized Belgian Abbey Beer” on the bottles. This implies that the abbey exists (or existed), that they receive a share of the profits from beer sales, and that they have the right to control advertising.

In Belgium, there are three categories of Belgian abbey beers. Firstly, there are Belgian abbey beers that are labeled as Recognized Belgian Abbey Beers. Then there are Trappist beers, brewed by Trappist monks in accordance with the criteria of the International Trappist Association. Finally, other abbey beers have the label “Abbey Beer” but cannot display the Recognized Belgian Abbey Beer logo.

St-Feuillien Beer
Saint-Feuillien Beer. Similar to other types of beers, abbey beers often have a Double and a Triple in their range.

Some brands of abbey beers:

  • Leffe (more than 10 different beers),
  • Maredsous (Blonde, Brunette, and Triple),
  • Grimbergen (Golden, Dark, Triple, and Optimo Bruno),
  • Saint-Feuillien (St-Feuillien Blonde, Brunette, Triple, and Grand Cru),
  • Saint-Bernardus (St. Bernardus 6, 8, and 12).

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