Belgian Trappist Beers

Orval and Chimay Beers
Discover the rich tradition of Belgian Trappist beers, authentic masterpieces of high fermentation produced exclusively in Cistercian abbeys. Explore iconic brands like Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren, each with its distinctive flavor and alcohol content. Immerse yourself in the history, the limited availability of Westvleteren, and the prestigious 'Authentic Trappist Product' seal. Additionally, learn how these beers contribute to the global reputation of Belgian beers. Dive into our fascinating world of Belgian Trappist brewing now!

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Belgian Trappist Beer.

Firstly, Belgian Trappist beers are typically top-fermented. Moreover, they must be brewed in accordance with the criteria set by the International Trappist Association. The taste of Trappist beers varies by brand. They have a high alcohol content, ranging from 6% to 12% alcohol by volume, and undergo bottle re-fermentation.

Brands of Belgian Trappist Beers.

There are 7 recognized Trappist beers, 1 in the Netherlands and 6 in Belgium. The 6 brands of Belgian Trappist beers are:

  • Achel (Blonde and Brune 8%. Extra 9.5%),
  • Chimay (Red 7%, Triple 8%, Blue 9%),
  • Orval (6.2%),
  • Rochefort (10° > 11.3%. 8° > 9.2%. 6° > 7.5%),
  • Westmalle (Double > 7.5%, Triple > 9.5%)
  • Westvleteren (8° > 8%. 12° > 10.2%).
Belgian Trappist Beers
Popular belief sometimes thinks that monks still directly handle the brewing.

Westvleteren is a beer that is difficult to obtain because the monks intentionally limit production to around 4,800 hectoliters per year. In 2005, an American website voted Westvleteren XII as the best beer in the world out of 30,001 beers worldwide. Following this recognition, demand further increased, drawing media attention, particularly from the British, and causing a strong public demand. However, the beer is only sold at the abbey, so one must make an appointment to purchase it, although some specialized stores sell it without authorization.

Since September 25, 2006, it is mandatory to place an order by phone at a hard-to-reach number and specify the vehicle’s license plate. One must then wait a week and go to the abbey on the agreed-upon day and time. Each customer can only buy two crates, or 48 bottles of 33 centiliters of one type. It is strictly prohibited to resell them for profit. Only one appointment per vehicle every sixty days is allowed.

On the other hand, the In de Vrede establishment located in front of the abbey and owned by the monks legally offers the three varieties of Trappist beers on the menu. It also allows, at times, the purchase of six bottles, depending on the current production. Indeed, the abbey produces only one variety of beer at a time.

Despite the high demand compared to the quantity available, the price remains that of a quality beer sold in large distribution.

(Photo: Westvleteren is a beer that is difficult to obtain because the monks of the abbey intentionally limit production to around 4,800 hectoliters per year.)

Westvleteren Beer
Westvleteren is a challenging beer to obtain as the monks of the abbey intentionally limit production to around 4,800 hectoliters per year.

The “Authentic Trappist Product” label.

It is true that Belgian Trappist beers contribute significantly to the reputation of Belgian beers on the international stage. To carry the “Authentic Trappist Product” label, three criteria are accepted.

Firstly, Trappist beers must be produced within a Cistercian abbey. Popular belief sometimes thinks that monks still directly handle the brewing. However, beer production is generally carried out by laypeople employed within the abbey, due to professionalization in the brewing industry. Nevertheless, the monks retain genuine control over the management and strategic direction taken by the brewery.

Secondly, the profits generated by Trappist beer sales must be dedicated to the abbey’s own subsistence, such as maintaining infrastructure.

Finally, profits must also be allocated to social projects. In their region, Trappist abbeys generally act as engines of development, working in social, cultural, and educational fields related to Belgian Trappist beers.

The iconic brands of Belgian Trappist Beers are:

  • Achel (Blonde, Brune, and Extra),
  • Chimay (Red, Triple, and Blue),
  • Orval,
  • Rochefort (Triples and Brown),
  • Westmalle (Double and Triple),
  • Westvleteren.

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Discover the rich tradition of Belgian Trappist beers, authentic masterpieces of high fermentation produced exclusively in Cistercian abbeys. Explore iconic brands like Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren, each with its distinctive flavor and alcohol content. Immerse yourself in the history, the limited availability of Westvleteren, and the prestigious ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ seal. Additionally, learn how these beers contribute to the global reputation of Belgian beers. Dive into our fascinating world of Belgian Trappist brewing now!