When you think of monks, you probably think of bald heads, flowing robes, and vows of silence, but unless you’re Belgian, you probably don’t think of beer. Even if you haven’t heard of them before, Trappist Breweries and the monasteries they support have been around for hundreds of years. There are currently only 11 licenced Trappist breweries in the world, six of which are in Belgium. Their rarity, as well as their reputation for quality, make the Trappists some of the most sought-after beers in the world.
1. Trappistes Rochefort
Established in 1595, Rochefort is the oldest Trappist brewer still currently making beer. They sell three styles of Dark Belgian ales ranging from the 6, the lightest at 7.5%ABV up to the 10, weighing in at a mighty 11.3%ABV.
La Brasserie d’Orval opened its modern brewery in 1931 in the Gaum region of Belgium, but there is evidence of brewing going back to the first days of the Abbey in 1628. Though they only make one beer (6.2% ABV) it is highly coveted as one of the best dark ales in the world for its rich, malty flavor.
3. Trappist Achel
Trappist Achel is only sold in two varieties outside of the monastery: the 8 Blonde which is the lighter, and the 8 Brune, being its darker counterpart. Achel is the smallest Belgian Trappist brewery by volume, only producing 120,000 gallons of beer per year.
Chimay is one of the most prolific Trappists, it is sold all around the world and can be found in many US supermarkets. It comes in four varieties: Blue label (Dark), Dorrée (Blonde), Red label (Dubbel), and White label (Trippel).
5. Westmalle Trappist
Westmalle Trippel is considered one of the best trippels in the world. Its quality has not gone unnoticed as it is one of the largest Trappist breweries by volume (3.2 million gal. per year)
6. Westvleteren Trappist
Westvleteren is known as one of the greatest beers in the world, but it’s also one of the hardest to get. In fact, in order to buy a case you have to make an appointment to drive to the monastery in rural Flanders. Otherwise, you can try your luck in the tourist stores of Brussels but limited quantity means bottles are regularly sold for 15euro apiece (1.75euro at the monastery).