Trappist Beer

Trappist beer is a beer brewed by Cistercian monks. There are three conditions for a beer to be called Trappist:


  • The beer must be brewed within the grounds of a Trappist Abbey
  • The beer must be brewed under the supervision and responsibility of the monks
  • The majority of the revenue must be dedicated to charitable work (not for profit)


Typically, the Monks will brew enough beer in order to fund the running of the monastery and to fund charitable causes. Not more is produced. Some of the Trappist monasteries only sell their beers locally at the brewery or in nearby inns, and only to individual buyers.


Trappist beer must be poured in a continuous movement and should be enjoyed slowly. It is refermented in the bottle which usually results in a small deposit of yeast at the bottom. Trappist represents a family of unique beer styles from blonde to dark, in dubbel, trippel and even quadruple variations. ‘Double’ indicates the use of a greater quantity of raw ingredients. These are heavier beers that tend to be sweeter and darker, even black, (circa 6%), often with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The stronger ‘triple’ (7 – 9%) usually indicates a malty, light coloured beer. Nonetheless there are also bitter, fruity, spicy and sweet triples. The only beer to have a ‘quadruple’ (10%) label is La Trappe from Koningshoven, Holland. Malty sweet, lightly roasted and pleasantly bitter with a sweet aftertaste. Matured in oakwood vessels.


The main characteristics are:


  • Top fermentation
  • Re-fermentation in the bottle
  • Sterile brewing process to ensure better storability
  • No use of external (bio)chemical elements
  • Use of sugar to increase the alcohol content and to make the beer easily digestible


Contrary to Abbey beers, the “Trappist” denomination represents a protected Trade Mark as “Authentic Trappist Product”. Only 8 breweries are allowed to use the hexagonal Trappist logo on their products by the International Trappist Association. Six are in Belgium (Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren) There is one located in the Netherlands (La Trappe) and (since October15 2012) one in Austria(Engelszell). December 2013 brought us two new Trappist beers : a second dutch one “Zundert” and the first overseas in the USA : “Spencer” brewed by St Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer  (MA). 


the other types

Gueuze     Abbey Amber Specialty      Fruit   Wheat    Lager

other Basic things about beer you may want to know THE BREWING PROCESS