You might have heard about Trappist beer once or twice. However…
Trappist beers aren’t simply defined by the flavors and aromas or brewing styles, a Trappist beer is defined by its origin or historical roots.
What Does Trappist Beer Mean?
Trappist beers are brewed by monks within the walls or grounds of a Trappist monastery. Their recipe dates back to nearly 150 years ago.
As ancient as it sounds, would you believe the recipe is still the same exact recipe used today? Why is that so?
Trappist monks are part of a strict Cistercian order. The Cistercian order is governed or lives by the rule of St. Benedict. There are a set of guidelines that monks and nuns under this order should follow.
What that means is that although Trappist monks make delicious beer, their religious activities come first. Aside from studying the Bible or devoting their time to God, work is also one of their guidelines. This work includes producing the Trappist beer you see today.
However, Trappist monks don’t just make beer. They also make jams, olive oil, chocolate, mushrooms, cheese, and bread.
What Makes a Beer Trappist?
For starters, all Trappist beers are brewed solely in Trappist monasteries.
All the Trappist monasteries around the world are united under one association. This association is known as the International Trappist Association.
In addition, authentic Trappist beers will carry the label or logo “Authentic Trappist Product.” So, why don’t commercial breweries do the same? Or why is it that only a handful of breweries make Trappist beers?
Because carrying the “Authentic Trappist Product” label means you meet the following criteria:
- All the products should be made within the walls or immediate grounds of the monastery
- The production of the beer should be under the supervision of monks or nuns
- Profits are only intended for maintenance and management of the monastery or for charity donations
The label in itself is what makes a beer Trappist. Breweries aren’t allowed to use the name “Trappist” on their beers if they don’t meet the criteria/guidelines.
As for the ingredients, Trappist beers use spring water and a special yeast strain that was developed in 1948 by Father Theodore.
These two ingredients are what give a Trappist beer like Chimay, for example, its unique taste.
What Is Special About Trappist Beer?
For a Trappist monastery, brewing a Trappist beer is connected to their religious order. In other words, what makes Trappist beers special is they aren’t brewed for profit.
The money from selling Trappist beers is strictly used for maintaining the brewery. Of course, for sustaining the livelihood of monks and nuns too.
If there’s extra money, it’s donated to local communities or charities.
And then there’s the recipe. Trappist monasteries brew their beers the traditional way. It’s the same as it’s always been even if it’s a century-old style.
To clarify, traditional doesn’t mean old-school equipment. Trappist breweries use modern and sophisticated equipment for brewing their beers. ‘Traditional’ refers to the style and technique used to brew their beer.
Furthermore, Trappist monasteries neither produce seasonal beers nor do they invent new recipes.
What Does Trappist Beer Taste Like?
First off, Trappist beers should never taste sweet. Light coffee and caramel notes are present, but they shouldn’t be strong either.
In a Trappist beer, malt is the prominent flavor. Some hoppiness may be present, but it shouldn’t dominate the flavor.
There may be a hint of fruity and spicy flavors as well. Some words used to describe a Trappist beer include:
- Caramel or Coffee
And finally, the fruity flavors aren’t the same fruity notes you find in an IPA. No citrusy or tropical fruity notes in this style. The fruits you’d normally taste in a Trappist beer are raisin, cherry, plum, and apple.
What Type of Beer Is Trappist?
Trappist beer is a type of ale, which means the yeast strains used to brew it are fermented on the beer’s surface.
However, Trappist beers aren’t like IPAs. IPAs are known for their classic hardcore bitterness and fruity or citrusy flavors.
Unlike IPAs, Trappist beers don’t let hops take the center stage. Instead, its maltiness and the yeast strain used are what shine in a Trappist beer.
When you’re drinking a Trappist beer, forget the hoppy bitterness flavor and aroma. You can even say that Trappist beers are the complete opposite of IPAs.
Trappist Beer Ale or Lager?
Trappist beer is an ale, not a lager. Lagers use bottom-fermenting yeast and are fermented in colder temperatures.
Is Trappist Beer Craft Beer?
In some way, you can say it is.
The definition itself of craft beer tends to be a little murky. In a few words, craft beer is a beer that’s brewed by a small-scale brewery.
It also follows that a small-scale brewery produces only small outputs of beer per year. However, there isn’t a set definition of what small-scale operation means.
So, why is Trappist beer craft beer? Well, Trappist breweries only make about 4,750 barrels per year. Compare that to The Alchemist Brewery, which makes 10,000 barrels per year.
It’s safe to say then that Trappist beers can generally be considered part of the craft beer category.
How Many Trappist Beers Are There in the World?
There are a total of 14 Trappist beers in the world, all of which are brewed in separate abbeys. There are also 13 abbeys in the world who are all members of the International Trappist Association.
Here is a full list of Trappist beers and the respective abbeys who brew them:
|La Trappe||Koningshoeven Abbey||Netherlands|
|Westmalle||Our Lady of Sacred Heart Abbey in Westmalle||Belgium|
|Achel||Achelse Kluis Brewery||Belgium|
|Rochefort||Our Lady of Saint-Remy Abbey in Rochefort||Belgium|
|Zundert||Maria Toevlucht Abbey||Netherlands|
|Westvleteren||Sint-Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren||Belgium|
|Mont des Cats||Mont des Cats Abbey||France|
|Stift Engelszell||Stift Engelszell Abbey||Austria|
|Mount St. Bernard||Mount Saint Bernard Abbey||UK|
|Cardena||Monastery of St. Peter of Cardena||Spain|
|Spencer Trappist||Saint Joseph’s Abbey||USA|
|Tre Fontane||Tre Fontane Abbey||Italy|
What Are the Official Trappist Beers?
Out of all the Trappist beers, only 11 Trappist beers have the “Authentic Trappist Product label”. These include the following:
- La Trappe
- Tre Fontane
- Stift Engelszell
Is Chimay a Trappist Beer?
Chimay is a Trappist beer and it’s also one of the best Trappist beers today. There are several Chimay beers available, such as:
- Chimay Blue
- Chimay Red
- Chimay Gold
- Chimay Triple
- Chimay 150
Is Leffe a Trappist Beer?
Leffe beer is not a Trappist beer. It’s actually classified as an Abbey beer.
Yes – Abbey and Trappist beers are different. Although the recipes and techniques are similar, there’s one important difference.
Abbey beers are not brewed in or within a Trappist monastery. Currently, Leffe beer is brewed in the Stella Artois Brewery in Leuven.
Is Duvel a Trappist Beer?
Duvel is not a Trappist beer, but rather a Belgian Golden ale. Even if it’s not a Trappist beer, Duvel is one of the most iconic beers in Belgium. It’s definitely worth a try!
Is La Trappe a Trappist Beer?
La Trappe is a Trappist beer, and what makes it interesting is their caption: “Taste the Silence.” Drinking a La Trappe is discovering a crucial ingredient that’s linked to monks: silence.
Is St Bernardus a Trappist Beer?
St. Bernardus was once a Trappist beer. However, St. Bernardus lost its license in 1992 when the monks decided Trappist beers should only be brewed in the walls of the monastery.
If you compare the St. Bernardus bottles before and after 1992, there are significant differences:
- After 1992, the skullcap was removed
- The cleric’s tunic was also removed to show a bald man with no religious affiliation
What Is a Trappist Single Beer?
A Trappist Single beer was originally brewed by monks in 1999 at Westvleteren. The style has floral and spicy hops with a biscuit or cracker-like malt backbone and a dry, hoppy finish.
Belgian yeast is obviously used in this style and imparts stone fruit and citrusy flavors. To give you a better idea, a Trappist Single is more hop-focused than a Belgian Pale Ale.
Appearance-wise, it has a pale yellow to medium gold color and good clarity. Finally, its ABV ranges from 4.8% to 6%.
Overall, it’s the lightest beer brewed by monks compared to their other styles: Dubbel & Trippel.
What Is Considered a Trappist or Abbey-Style Beer?
Trappist beers and Abbey-style beers are generally the same because they both use similar ingredients. That means both of these styles are malt-forward and use Belgian ale yeasts.
What makes an Abbey-Style beer different from a Trappist beer is where it’s brewed. Abbey-Style beers are not brewed within the walls of a monastery or abbey.
That means it doesn’t meet the criteria needed for it to be regarded as a Trappist beer. You can group Abbey-Style and Trappist beers into 4 different categories:
- Patersbier: Patersbier is also referred to as Enkel, which means “single” in Dutch. These are dry, golden to light amber ales with an ABV below 5%.
- Dubbel: Yes, Dubbel is far stronger than a Patersbier. It falls around an ABV of 6% to 8%. It’s a dark-colored ale with fruity and spicy flavor notes.
- Tripel: An even stronger Trappist beer with an ABV between 8% to 9%. These are golden-colored ales that are slightly drier than the two. But one thing’s for sure. A Tripel is strong!
- Quadrupel: It’s a cranked-up Dubbel that’s darker and stronger than a Tripel. It has an ABV between 9% and 14%! The malty flavors are still there and the body is a lot heavier.
How Does Abbey-Style Beer Differ From Trappist Beer?
If you want to be able to tell the difference between an Abbey beer and Trappist beer, these are the standards:
- Abbey beers are made by a commercial brewery that has a license. It’s also possible to have a commercial arrangement with an active monastery
- An abbey beer is brewed by any monastery (this includes any that are non-Trappist)
- Has no religious connection
- Features a vague religious symbol, monk, or abbey on the label without specifically referring to an abbey/monastery
Basically, any beer that doesn’t meet the strict guidelines of an authentic Trappist beer is considered an Abbey beer.
Furthermore, Abbey beers do not have to be brewed inside or within the walls of a monastery/abbey. Monks also do not need to supervise the production of the beer.
How Is Trappist Beer Made?
It’s all about the malt and yeast.
What makes it even more interesting is the fermentation process. Trappist beers undergo 2 stages of fermentation.
The 1st stage of fermentation lasts about 1 week. Then, brewers let the beer mature for 2 weeks in a storage vat.
The 2nd stage of fermentation happens in the bottle. Brewers will add sugar and yeast to trigger the 2nd stage of fermentation.
As for the yeast used, Belgian Ale yeast is the closest option to making a Trappist beer. However, authentic Trappist beers, like Chimay, use a special yeast strain. This yeast strain was developed by Father Theodore in 1948, and it’s still the same strain used today.
Another essential ingredient used to make a Trappist beer is spring water. The malt, yeast strain, and spring water are key ingredients in making an authentic Trappist beer.
Unfortunately, these recipes aren’t available anywhere. There are of course ways to imitate the style. Abbey-Style beers, for example, is one imitation.
What Is Trappist Beer Made From?
The only ingredients Trappists use to brew Trappist beer are water, hops, grains, sugar, and yeast.
Quite simple, right?
Here’s the thing. These ingredients are mostly sourced from their own lands. Some are sourced elsewhere, but most are simply found in the surrounding areas of the abbey.
Abbeys have a large portion of land used for growing their grains. The barley or malt used to make their beer is sourced from the surrounding land they own.
Trappists usually source their hops from Germany; however, this may vary depending on the abbey it’s brewed in.
Where do monks get spring water?
From their own water well! Trappist monks even have their own water treatment plant.
Ahh, the secret ingredient.
Aside from the spring water they use, their yeast strain is what makes Chimay so distinct. It’s also what makes authentic Trappist beers unique compared to other Belgian ales.
Is there any way to uncover the secret yeast strain they use? Probably not. Father Theodore developed the yeast strain in 1948. This yeast strain is a guarded secret that Trappist monks have not revealed ever since.
How to Make Trappist Beer at Home
There is a way to make Trappist beer at home. Even without the yeast strain and spring water, you can still make a great Trappist beer.
The key is to use Belgian Ale yeast strains and noble hop varieties.
What Hops to Use for Trappist Beer
Forget American or New Zealand hop varieties.
Trappist beers lean more towards Noble hop varieties, such as:
- Stryian Goldings
- Hallertau Hersbrucker
- Hallertau Mittelfruh
A good hop combination to use for Trappist beer is Stryian Goldings and Hallertau Hersbrucker. Alternatively, Hallertau Mittelfruh and Saaz work well together too.
Keep your hop selection simple. A sample of this could be:
- 2 ounces (56.70 g) of Hallertau Hersbrucker
- 1 ounce (28.35 g) of Stryian Goldings
For mashing, mash at 152°F (66°C) for 60 minutes. Then, add 1 ounce of Hallertau Herbrucker at the start of the boil.
When there are 15 to 20 minutes left in the boil, add another 1 ounce of Hallertau Herbrucker. And finally, with 5 minutes left in the boil, add 1 ounce of Styrian Goldings.
You can also add your candy sugar at this stage. The sugar will help boost the ABV of your Trappist beer. Overall, you want to aim for an ABV of 5% or 5.5%, so your original gravity should be around 1.046.
What Grains Work Well With Trappist Beer?
Always start with Pilsner malt. It should make up about 80% to 85% of your total grain bill. Additional malts you can add include:
- Munich malt (about 20%)
- CaraMunich (for dried fruity flavor)
- Carahell (for caramel flavor)
- Special B malt (for raisin flavor)
- Candy sugar (key ingredient; about 10% to 15%)
However, there’s no need to make your grain bill too complex. Munich malts lean more towards brewing a Dubbel Trappist Ale.
Since it’s presumably your first time, keep it as simple as possible. Here is a sample grain bill:
- 85% Pilsner Malt
- 15% candy sugar
Another grain bill you can use if you want more malt could be:
- 85% Pilsner Malt
- 10% candy sugar
- 5% Carahell
Make sure to add your candy sugar with 5 minutes left in the boil.
What’s a Good Starter Yeast to Use for Trappist Beer?
Trappist beers work well with Belgian Ale yeast strains. A good starter yeast is White Labe WLP500. Pitch your yeast at 70°F (21°C) and maintain your fermentation temperature at 70°F (21°C) as well.
Overall, fermentation should last about 12 to 14 days.
Where Does Trappist Beer Come From?
The lore states that several French Trappist monks fled to the Netherlands in 1881. It was during this time that the monks started brewing beer.
At first, the monks thought their lands would be enough to sustain their livelihood. However, in 1884, the monks realized it wasn’t enough and started brewing beer.
But why beer? Because monks live a pious and altruistic lifestyle, they ate very little. Brewing beer helped provide the calories needed to get them through the day.
Later on, it wasn’t just Trappist beers the monks made. Cheese, jam, chocolate, bread, and even honey.
Do Trappist Monks Still Make Beer?
It’s hard to say Trappist monks will ever stop making Trappist beer. Trappist beers have grown phenomenally and have gained a large following all over the world.
The only problem is, Trappist beers are rare. Even if the demand for Trappist beers has increased, Trappist breweries don’t make more supply to meet demand.
“How can this be?!” is what you’re probably thinking. And the reason is that Trappist breweries adhere to their religious code and guidelines strictly.
Trappist monks don’t make beer for a profit. They brew beer enough to sustain their livelihood and maintain the brewery.
Even if you begged and banged on their abbey doors, the supply of Trappist beers will still and always be low.
Why Do Trappist Monks Make Beer?
Trappist monks make beer to support their living expenses and to maintain or manage the brewery’s costs.
Any excess profit made is donated to charity or local community projects. Trappist monks live by a strict code. And it’s a code all monks and nuns must abide by until their death.
Do Trappist Monks Drink Their Beer?
Of course they do! After all, one of the criteria in obtaining the “Authentic Trappist Product” label is through the supervision of monks. Put simply, monks or nuns must supervise the production of Trappist beers.
So, of course, tasting the beer and ensuring quality standards are met are all part of the process. But if you’re referring to a more casual drinking session, then, not often.
However, it’s not to say Trappist monks fully abstain from drinking their own beer. In fact, Trappist monks drink their beer every once in a while, including on religious holidays.
Where Are Trappist Beers Made?
Trappist beer were brewed ever since the Middle Ages. Today, Trappist beers are brewed from all over the world, such as:
Most of the breweries that make Trappist beer are found in Belgium. In total, there are 6 breweries in Belgium that make Trappist beer.
How Many Trappist Breweries Are There?
There are a total of 170 Trappist monasteries around the world today. However, only 14 of those monasteries are also Trappist breweries.
To narrow that down even further, there are only 11 Trappist beers in the world that carry the “Authentic Trappist Product” label.
What Country Are Trappist Beers Brewed Today?
All. Over. The. World. Here is a list of all the countries that brew Trappist beers:
What Country Has the Most Trappist Breweries?
Among all countries, Belgium has the most Trappist breweries – 6 of which are spread throughout. These 6 breweries are:
- Westmalle Abbey
- Saint-Sixtus Abbey
- Achel Abbey
- Orval Abbey
- Scourmount Abbey/Chimay brewery
- Rochefort Abbey
How Many Trappist Breweries Are There in Belgium?
Belgium has 6 Trappist breweries, and you can visit each brewery even! Here is a list of each brewery and their respective locations:
|Trappist Brewery in Belgium||Location|
|Achelse Kluis Brewery/Achel Abbey||Achel; Equidistant from Dusseldorf, Germany and Antwerp, Belgium|
|Rochefort Brewery||Rochefort, Belgium|
|Chimay Brewery||Hainaut, Belgium; Two hours northwest of Luxembourg City|
|Saint-Sixtus Abbey||Westvleteren, Belgium|
|Orval Brewery||Florenville, Belgium|
|Westmalle Brewery||Westmalle, Belgium|
How Many Beers Does Trappist Have?
There are only 14 Authentic Trappist beers available today. The reason why there aren’t many is due to the strict requirements needed to have the “Authentic Trappist Product” label.
What Are the 7 Official Trappist Breweries?
Back then, there used to be 7 Trappist Breweries – 6 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands. These include the following:
- Koningshoeven Brewery
- Rochefort Brewery
- Orval Brewery
- Achel Brewery
- Westmalle Brewery
- Westvleteren Brewery
- Chimay Brewery
However, the list of Trappist breweries today has gone up from 7 to 14! There are 14 Trappist breweries all over the world, but only 11 Trappist beers that have the “Authentic Trappist Product” label.
Are Trappist Beers Good?
Beer has always been a matter of personal preference. Taste is subjective.
Take for example the long-standing rivalry between West Coast and East Coast IPAs. Some love West Coast IPAs but hate East Coast IPAs. Others love East Coast IPAs but hate West Coast IPAs.
Trappist beers are known to be some of the best beers in the world. Their malt-forward flavors and fruity, spicy flavor give Trappist beers their distinct flavor.
If you’ve been looking for a beer that leans away from hoppy or aggressive bitterness, Trappist beers are worth trying.
How Good Is Trappist Beer?
Trappist beers are above-average ales that have been rated consistently as one of the best beers in the world.
Why Is Trappist Beer So Good?
But what makes these Belgian ales so good compared to other styles? There are 3 reasons:
- The quality of their ingredients from their spring water down to their malt
- A special yeast strain that only Trappist monks know
- Making beer is an expression of their religion/faith
The quality of their ingredients is one reason because most of it is sourced within their lands. Malt, spring water, and yeast are all local ingredients available to Trappist monks.
Now, what about the yeast strain? Sure, Belgian Ale yeast strains are great substitutes, but they’re not the same as what Trappist monks use. It’s a secret ingredient that only Trappist monks know, all thanks to Father Theodore who developed it in 1948.
And finally, making beer for monks is more than just simply the right brewing technique. Monks are also scholars who study most of their time aside from praying.
This has allowed Trappist monks to continually hone and refine the art of brewing. You can even say they’ve mastered the spirit or essence of Belgian ales.
Brewing beer is more of spiritual work, which makes it unique compared to other styles. Their dedication and meticulous attention to detail are what make Trappist beers so damn good.
Is Trappist Beer the Best in the World?
To say Trappist beers are the best in the world isn’t too far-fetched. However, there are still several styles both ales and lagers that are highly regarded as the best in the world.
There is one Trappist beer, in particular, that was named the best beer in the world in 2012. And that beer is known as Westvleteren XII. The Chimay Blue Grande Reserve is also just as excellent.
What Are the Best Trappist Beers?
Without a doubt, Westvleteren XII is one of the best Trappist beers to try. However, those aren’t your only options. Here are some of the best Trappist beers:
|Westmalle Tripel||Westmalle Abbey|
|Chimay Blue Trappist||Scourmont Abbey|
|Chimay Red Trappist||Scourmont Abbey|
|Rochefort 8||Rochefort Abbey|
|Rochefort 10||Rochefort Abbey|
|La Trappe Blond Ale||Koningshoeven Brewery|
|Zundert Tripel||Lapwing Brewery|
|Spencer Trappist Ale||Spencer Brewery|
|Westvleteren XII||Saint-Sixtus Abbey|
|Achel 8 Bruin||Achel Abbey|
|Orval Trappist||Orval Brewery|
|Engelszell Gregorious||Stift Engelszell Abbey|
|Westvleteren 8||Saint-Sixtus Abbey|
Where to Buy Trappist Beer
If you’re in Belgium, don’t miss the chance to visit the actual breweries and buy the Trappist beer from the store.
De Biertempel is a beer shop in Brussels with over 1,000 Belgian beers! You’re bound to find a Trappist beer in this store.
There are also several online platforms/websites you can buy Trappist beers from to:
- Belgian Beer Factory
- The Belgian Beer Company
- Belgian Shop
- Beer of Belgium
- Belgian Style Ales
Why Are Trappist Beers So Expensive?
For starters, import fees. The fees alone to import Belgian beer can be expensive, and that’s one possible cause for why Trappist beers tend to be expensive.
Normally, low supply and high demand contribute to the selling or retail price. Some establishments, online stores, and groceries might do this.
However, it’s worth noting that buying a Trappist beer in Belgium isn’t expensive. For example, a 4-pack in Belgium costs around $6 to $8. That’s nowhere near the price of $20 for a 4-pack in the United States.
In fact, Trappist monks weren’t aware that their beers were being sold to third parties. They only found out recently how inflated the prices were at a Dutch supermarket. It was being sold at €9 (~$10) a bottle!
Can you believe that?!
What’s even more surprising is that a Dutch supermarket had 7,200 bottles of Westvleteren beer! The good news is, Trappist monks have resorted to launching a website.
A website that allows the monks to control the flow of how much beer is sold and offer better prices. One such site is the Westvleteren website.
To be able to purchase beer from the website, you have to register and create an account. It’s also exclusively for consumers only.
The best part is, they sell it by the crate. For the Westvleteren 8, it’s being sold on the website at €43.30. That’s around €1.80 per bottle!
This proves that Trappist beers aren’t expensive because of Trappist monks. You can blame it on import fees and mostly on profiteers who ignore the ethical values of how to sell a Trappist beer.
How to Store Trappist Beer
Trappist beers should be stored the same way most beers should be stored: away from sunlight. Any beer exposed to sunlight leads to all the flavors diminishing over time.
Who wants to drink a stale beer? No one.
And so, this is the first rule you should remember about storing a Trappist beer. Keep it away from sunlight. A dark place is far more appealing for Trappist beers.
Dark basements, dark garages, or any place where sunlight won’t reach is a great place for storing Trappist beers.
But don’t go so far as to bury your beer underneath the soil. That seems just…insane.
How Long Does Trappist Beer Last?
The next rule for storing beers: be mindful of age.
Generally, age and beer…it’s not the same as aging a beautiful whisky or a bottle of wine. Most beers, especially those brewed with a ton of hops, taste worse with age.
It’s become a cardinal rule that when drinking an IPA, for example, the fresher it is, the better.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t beers that are exempted from this rule. Some beers taste better with age, and one of those beers is Trappist beers.
As stated in the Westvleteren website, it says:
“Trappist Westvleteren 8 is a bottle refermented beer with taste evolution. As the beer ages, the taste will also evolve.”
Trappist beers generally last up to 5 years! Although, that doesn’t mean you should wait for it to age until 5 years. After a year or 2 years, you should be able to taste all the flavors it promises.
Does Trappist Beer Go Bad?
All beer goes bad.
Time, temperature, and sunlight cause beer to go bad. Although not as bad as say, the way expired rice smells and tastes like.
When beer goes bad, all the flavors and aromas are faint or barely present. It can easily turn a top-notch beer into a mediocre drink.
Fortunately, Trappist beers have a longer expiry date than most styles. You’re looking up to 5 years maximum for a Trappist beer until it goes bad.
In addition, authentic Trappist beers have an expiry date on the label, so it always helps to check this information too.
Now, there is one factor to account for, though: sunlight.
Even if Trappist beers taste better with age, it’s still vulnerable to sunlight. If you see a Trappist beer stored on a beer shelf where sunlight directly strikes it, it probably won’t taste as good.
Can You Age Trappist Beer?
That’s the best part about Trappist beers, among its other finer qualities. Of course, you can’t age it like fine wine or whisky, but aging a Trappist beer for a year or two is ideal.
Even better, try aging it for 3 years! That’s a long time, though, isn’t it? So maybe don’t go that far. Or, if you’re lucky enough to find a Trappist beer that’s aged this long, grab it right away!
How Long to Age Trappist Beer?
It takes about 1½ to 2 years for Trappist beers to reveal their full flavors and aromas. If it’s only been 3 months, you’re better off waiting for it to age, or buying one and storing it in optimal conditions.
If you really want to know, try drinking a Trappist beer that’s aged for less than a year. Then, grab an aged Trappist beer (probably 1 to 1½ years).
You’ll immediately be able to tell the difference.
How Do You Drink Trappist Beer?
There’s a saying that goes like this when it comes to Trappist beers: “Trappist beer is not something you drink. You taste it!”
It’s all about allowing the flavors to take their sweet time in your mouth.
Should Trappist Beer Be Served Cold?
Cold beer is always better than lukewarm beer. And it’s no different with a Trappist beer. So yes, you should serve Trappist beers cold, but not too cold either.
The best way to serve a Trappist beer is to serve it chilled. Remember, the colder your Trappist beer, the less flavor or taste it will have.
What Temperature Should Trappist Beer Be Served at?
The best temperature to serve a Trappist beer is between 50°F (10°C) and 53.6°F (12°C). This temperature will bring out the most flavor.
If you try to serve your Trappist beer too cold, you’re not going to taste much.
Should You Refrigerate Trappist Beer?
Yes, go right ahead and refrigerate it!
But again, don’t set the temperature too low that your Trappist beer goes below 10ºC. If you can, store it in a dark, cold place.
The label should tell you what the best temperature is when storing it.
How to Serve Trappist Beer
Always serve a Trappist beer in a clean chalice glass. Make sure it’s dry too before pouring it from the bottle to your glass.
How Do You Pour a Trappist Beer?
A Trappist beer requires delicate pouring. You don’t want to agitate or shake the bottle before pouring. Here are the steps you should follow when pouring a Trappist beer.
- First, make sure your Trappist beer is stored upright
- Grab your chalice glass and make sure it’s clean & dry. (Never wash your chalice glass in the dishwasher. Simply rinse it.)
- Tilt your glass at a 45-degree angle and pour your beer carefully. (Don’t let your bottle touch your chalice glass)
- Keep pouring your beer into your chalice glass slowly and in a smooth manner
- Tilt your chalice glass gently until it’s back to its upright position
- Keep pouring until you’ve finished pouring all the beer in your bottle
Tips to Remember When Pouring a Trappist Beer
Pouring a Trappist beer takes time and practice. But don’t worry. These tips should help you as you’re pouring a Trappist beer:
- After buying your Trappist beer, let it sit for at least one week so all the sediment settles at the bottom. If it hasn’t aged well yet, then let it age.
- Never use soap to clean your chalice glass. It creates a film in your glass and breaks the foam head.
- Aim for a foam head of 3 to 4 cm (an inch or two).
- The slower and higher you pour from your bottle to the glass, the more foam it creates. If you created a lot of foam during your initial pour, then pour faster and a little lower. Also, pour from the side of the glass to prevent any more foam.
- When you’ve almost finished pouring all the contents into your bottle, look at the neck of your bottle. Sediment in Trappist beer makes up about 1 cm (½ inch) at the bottom of your bottle. Make sure you don’t pour sediment into your chalice glass. It’s not toxic, but it will change the flavor.
What Do You Eat Trappist Beer With?
For cheese lovers out there, you can’t go wrong with a cheese toastie or a classic macaroni and cheese dish.
Cold-cut cheeses also pair well with Trappist beer. However, if cheese isn’t your thing, Trappist beers pair well with a wide variety of food, such as:
- La carbonnade
- Juicy burgers
- Swedish gingerbread cookies
- Lamb stew
- Seared white fish
- Braised oxtails
- Beef stew
- Roasted pumpkin
If you want to take your cheese pairing to the next level, go with a cheese fondue. You won’t regret it!
It’s also worth checking out the Chimay website since they have recipes that make the perfect pairs for their Trappist beers. They even feature a marinade recipe using Chimay Blue!