Monastery brewhouses, from different religious orders, have been across Europe since the Middle Ages. The monastery of La Trappe in Soligny had its own brewery in 1685. Breweries were later added in monasteries of other countries as the trappist order spread from France into the rest of Europe. The Trappists, like many other religious people, first brewed beer to feed the community. Now, Trappist breweries also brew beer to pay for their works and for good causes. Many of the Trappist monasteries and breweries were destroyed during the French Revolution and the World Wars.
Types of beer [change]
With the recent exception of Koningshoeven's Bockbier, Trappist beers are all top-fermented and mainly bottle conditioned. Trappist breweries use different names for the different beers produced. The names relate to their strength.
The best known is the system where different beers are called Enkel/Single, Dubbel/Double and Tripel/Triple. With the importance of the Holy Trinity in the church, it is unlikely that the choice of three types of beers was accidental. Enkels are now no longer brewed as such.
Colours can be used to tell the different types. This dates back to the days when bottles were unlabelled and had to be identified by the bottle-top alone. Chimay beer labels are based on the colour system (in increasing order of strength red, white and blue). Westvleteren beers are still unlabelled.
There is also a number system (6,8 and 10, as used by Rochefort), which gives an idea of strength. Achel combine a strength and a colour (of the beer itself—blond or brown).
The official Trappist breweries make the following beers:-
- Achel sells Blonde (8% ABV), Brune (8% ABV), Extra Blonde (8% ABV), Extra Brune (8% ABV).
- Chimay sells Red Label (dark, 7% ABV), White Label (Blonde/Tripel, ABV 8%) and Blue Label (dark, 9% ABV).
- Koningshoeven sells:
- Orval sells a "unique" dry hopped 6.2% amber ale.
- Rochefort sells three dark ales, "6" (7.5% ABV). "8" (9.2% ABV) and "10" (11.3% ABV).
- Westmalle sells Dubbel (7% ABV) and Tripel (9.5% ABV),
- Westvleteren sells Green Cap or Blonde, (5.8% ABV), Blue Cap (dark, 8% ABV) and Yellow Cap (dark, 10.2% ABV).