History about the Cistercians or Trappists and their beers
All started by Benoit de Nursie in the years circa 480-548 who created the principle “ ora et labora” according wich monks must pray, study , contemplation and work. Monks who were following the Rule were called Benedictines. He was the founder of the abbey of Monte Cassino between Rome and Napels around 525-530. In the year 1098, St.Robert of Molesme founded a community of reformist monks in the French city of Citeaux (in Latin Cistercium), the root of a pair of orders known as the Cistercian orders.
Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé, was a commandatory abbot since 14 july 1664 from the Abbey of Notre Damme de La Grande Trappe in Soligny/Orne (France). Pope Alexander VII in 1664 recognized within the Cistercian Order two observances, the Common and the Strict Observance. Abbot Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé introduced in his monastery the Strict Observance. This live style was strict and harsh for the monks. The Trappists were aloud to consume the local drink in those times the water was offen polluted by bacterie and even cholera. According the principles of Saint-Benoit the monks should live in the same way as the poor people and their drink was beer.
Taking in consideration the long relation between monks and beer it is not a suprise that the patron of the beer brewers was an abt, abbot Arnulf of the abbey Saint-Médard in Soissons. The Holy Arnulf of Soissons, former knight born in 1040 motivated people to drink beer in stead of polluted water.
There are six abbeys who produce Trappist beer in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. The abbey of Scourmont at Cimay, with being the first to brew commercially followed by Orval, Westmalle, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Achel and La Trappe in the Netherlands. All of the Trappist beers have a view elements in common: they are all ales, all are bottle-conditioned, and none are simple thirst-quenchers. Two substyles exist, and some Trappist beers fit into none of them. These substyles are generally termed Double and Triple, often expressed in their Flemish spelling as „ Dubbel and Tripel“ .
Trappist Double, these are big brown beers, very lightly hopped and with powerrfull malt component, the maltinessexpressed more as a complex fruitiness than as uniform sweetness. While the body is generally substantial, it is also usually less than the intense flavors woul lead you to expect thanks to the addition of sugar in the kettle.. These sugars are generally caramelized to some degree, and thus deepen the beer’s color as well. Frequently, the beer will be fermented with a yeast of profound character, generally providing and identifiable „ house character“ that may includes substantial spiciness.
Trappist Triple, pioneered by the abbey of Westmalle. Stronger yet, Triples are generally made entirely with pale (pils) malts and light candy sugar and are generously hopped. The character of this hopping emphasizes hop flavour and aromamore than it does bitterness, though the bitterness component is decidely firm.
Trappist beer is an Appellation Controlée in the world of beer. The name Trappist is protected by Belgium law and can only be used by the Trappist monasteries for their products. Trappist is made for 85 till 95 % of source water and their minerals are very important for the quality of the trappist beer. Other ingridients are different kind of malts from different countries, hop, sugars – going from christal sugar to candy sugar – to caramilized sugar and yeast.
Try one of the Belgian Trappist beers and enjoy century long secrets of beer brewing by the Trappist monks of Belgium.
Orval, Abbey of Notre Damme D’Orval, There are exceptions and the most striking is Orval , they make one beer, and the beer they make is a classic. An attractive pale beer, it is primarily remarkable for its amazing hop nose and hoppiness in flavor right trough its soft, delicate finish. The legend goes that Lady Mathilde, widow from Lord Godfried, lost her wedding ring in a water source in Orval. She pray to the Holy Maria and by wonder a trout jumped out of the water source and gave the ring back to Lady Mathilde. Lady Mathilde said „ vraiment, c’est ici un Val d’Or“. The water source got the name of Mathilde and since then the people call it „ the Mathilde water source“ . The trout with golden ring is the logo of the Orval brewery that you see on erach bottle Orval.
Orval 6.2 vol %
Light amber-orange colours, a dence white head is pushed up by the sparkling as by champagne, a young Orval its hop aroma and flavour seems especially peppery and refreshing. At one year old the beer gets more dry and perfumy with a notable creamy head. Some say “ how older how better”. The “ Chardonnay of the beer world “ .
Rochefort, Abbey of Notre Damme De St-Remy, Rochefort makes three of the most intensly flavored of the Trappist beers, all corresponding to the Double substyle. The three are remarkably similar in their strong plum, raisin, and black currant palate, with acsending notes of vinousness and other complexities.
Rochefort 6 7.5 vol %
has a reddish colour, soft body and a earthy, herbal palate, developing to a fruitiness.
Rochefort 8 9.2 vol %
has a tawnier colour, amore aggressive palate, with an even richer fruitiness and a dash more spicy, cakey dryness to balance the finish.
Rochefort 10 11.3 vol %
has a deep red-brown colour, a dence head, a more viscous palate, and a profoundly fruity palate with notes of bitter chocolate developing in a late warming finish.
Westmalle, Abbey of our Lady of the Sacred Heart, The beers of Westmalle correspond very closely to the Double and Triple substyles. The Dubbel is smooth and rich, with chocolate and coffee-with-cream notes, and it is the only Trappist beer in which I’ve noticed a significant banana element in the esters.
The famed Westmalle Triple is the beer on which all modern interpretations of the style are based, being less hoppy and dry than others of its type, with more satisfying complexity.
Dubbel/Double 7 vol %
also has a dark malt and dark candy sugar. Smooth and rich, soft body, dark red brown color, with chocolate and coffee-with cream notes, hints of anis and is the only trappist beer with significant banana elements in the esters.
Tripel/Triple 9.5 vol %
The mother of all triples, a world champion with warm golden colors.The beer has a dence, white, head that leaves very full lacework. It is very aromatic, creamy in body with a banana-like , orangey, fruitness in its deep, complex, palate.
Chimay, Abbey of Notre Damme , Scourmont, The three beers brewed in Chimay can be recognized by the different colors of their crown or capsule. The most familiar beer in the linev with the Red crown, this is the essential Double, complex, dark, malty and fruity. Certainly a big beer it is nevertheless the smallest of the trio. Chimay White is bigger, tough is delicate body and somewhat paler color suggest the contrary. The Triple of the line, it is far more hoppy and dry than the other Chimay beers. Leading the line is is the legendary Chimay Blue, a profound and memorable beer, aptly called in its corked bottle Grande Reserve and adorned with a golden capsule, in contrast to the blue crown-cap of the smaller bottle. In the Double style , its impressive complexity includes waves of vinousness, a sherry-like nuttiness, an almost smoky quality, and hints of anise and licorice, all supported by a raising fruitiness. Surely this is one of the world’s great beers, and its mixing of color and flavor attributes appropriate to a Double with the gravity of a Triple clearly shows the arbitrary nature of these classifications.
Chimay red 7 vol.%
Dark-red-brown colour with a wite head, notes of fruit , malty and muskat, in the mouth light sweet and malty.
Chimay White (triple) 8 vol.%
Warm blond light amber colour, tones of muskat and citrus fruit, taste more hoppy and dry than the other Chimay’s to be served between 8 and 12 C.
Chimay Blue 9.0 vol %
The legendary Chimay Blue, in the Double style, sherry-like nuttiness, almost smokey quality, hints of anise and licorise, supported by a raising fruitiness. One of the worlds greatest beers.
Saint-Sixtus Abbey of Westvleteren, Westvleteren has the smallest output, producing three beers, the Westvleteren abt is massive and malty but not cloying, and complex, but not aggresive, warming and liqueurish, but not harshly alcoholic. A truly profound beer.
Westvleteren 8 8 vol %
with a blue top, has a huge, rocky, head and a Birgundy colour. It is fruity and sweetish, with suggestions plum brandy and chocolate.
Westvleteren 12- 10.5 vol %
with a yellow top, has a creamy aroma, rich, raisiny, toffeish, malty flavours: a long finish and a mahogany colour.
Achel, Abbey of St-Benedict, their beers have a generous hop aroma and bitterness, and clean malt background. The draught versions are now at 5.0 vol, and even drink little stronger: dry, crisp, cleansing Blond and a dryish, firm, smooth, lightly toffeeish, Bruin. The Blond has a slightly fuller colour and a very good malt character. The Bruin (Brown) has suggestions of licoriced and aniseed, tough no spices are used.There ten remains the 9.5 vol Extra, wich its dark candy sugar, fruity, spicy, esteriness.
Blond 8 vol %
has a slightly fuller colour and a very good malt character, dry, crisp and cleasing.
Brown 8 vol %
dryish, smooth, lightly toffeeish with suggestions of licorice and aniseed.
Extra 9.5 vol %
with is dark candy sugar, fruity, spicey, esteriness.
Trappist Breweries in the Netherlands
La Trappe, Abbey O.L.V. van Koningshoeven, The name La Trappe originates from the French abbey Notre-Dame de la Grande Trappe in the Normandy Soligny-la-Trappe, also known as La Trappe.
French Trappist monks found refuge in Berkel-Enschot in the province of Brabant, consisting of some moorland with farmhouses and a sheep barn. The farmhouses were named the Koningshoeven (meaning the king’s farmhouses in Dutch), after the former owner King Willem II. On the 5th of March 1881, the first Holy Mass was celebrated in the sheep barn, which was temporarily converted into a monastery. This became the official establishment date of the abbey.
Unique beers brewed with patience, passion and traditional craftsmanship according to secret recipes of the Trappists. Unique beers brewed with patience, passion and traditional craftsmanship according to secret recipes of the Trappists. La Trappe, made in Netherland, a ruby-colored, pruny, sherry-ish double and a paler, drier, more herbal-tasting triple.
Blond 6.5 vol %
is a clear, sparkling, blond beer with fresh aromatic smell.
Dubbel 6.5 vol %
is dark rubin red trappist with a soft aromatic fresh character.
Tripel 8 vol %
is a dark blond trappist with fruity sweet bitter taste.
Quadrupel 10 vol %
The taste is full, mild and pleasant bitter.
Witte Trappist 5.5 vol %
is brewed with aromatic hops and has a fresh character.
The monks of the Abbey Maria Toevlucht in Zundert brewing beer. The monks in Zundert are Trappists and their beer is therefore a Trappist beer.
It’s a beer according to its own specific recipe. Recognizable as a Trappist beer it has it’s own unique character. Zundert Trappist is a copper-gold fermented beer with eight percent alcohol.
Trappist Brewery in Austria
The Trappist Monastery of Stift Engelszell is brewing the Gregorius which has been granted permission by the International Trappist Association (ITA) to label it as a Trappist beer. Located in Engelhartszell on the Danube in Upper Austria, the monastery has been a member of the International Trappist Association (ITA) since 2008.
The first beer from Stift Engelszell is a dark ale at 9.7% abv, named after Abbott Gregorius Eisvogel who was at the Abbey for 25 years (1925-1950). Gergorius uses honey local to the monastery and a unique Alsacian wine yeast. Other beers are expected later in the year and all are to be named in honour of former Abbots of the House.
Trappist Brewery in Italy
The Trappist monastery of Tre Fontane is located in Rome, and more specifically, in a place which had already become quite significant in the early days of Christianity.
“Three Fountains” is an 8.5-percent tripel brewed with eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees were planted at the abbey in the late 19th century to combat malaria (fast-growing eucalyptus trees dry out marshy areas and prevent breeding by mosquitos).
“The high carbonation gives the mouthfeel a pleasant dry finish. The mildly sweet aftertaste comes from the soothing flavor of eucalyptus herb, which cleanses and refreshes the palate. While the beer gives the impression of being light, it has abundant body. The high alcohol content adds a warm, refined feeling to the soothing highlights of the eucalyptus.”
Trappist Brewery in France
The abbey of Mont-des-Cats, or Abbaye Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, is a Trappist monastery established on the top of Mont des Cat in Godewaersvelde in French Flanders. The new Trappist beer “Mont des Cats” was presented in June 2011: an amber-colored beer, brewed in Scourmont Abbey. These two Trappist abbeys have long enjoyed an excellent relationship; now they put into practice the solidarity within the Trappist Order to brew this exclusive recipe in one of the most famous breweries in the world, known for its quality and its love of beer. This unique cooperative effort belongs to the monastic tradition going back to the “Carta Caritatis,” the foundational document of the Cistercian Order in the twelfth century.
Trappist Brewery in the United States
St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spenser, Massachusetts, is home to a community of Trappist monks and the first American Trappist brewery. Following the Benedictine tradition of ora et labor (prayer and work), the monks pursue a simple life of contemplative prayer, a manual labor and hospitality. The brewery helps support the monks and their charitable outreach. Inspired by traditional refectory ales brewed by monks for the monks’ table, Spencer Trappist Ale is a full-bodied, golden-hued Trappist ale with fruit accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness.