Just what is a Trappist Ale? These are beers made by actual monks, at actual monasteries. Pretty cool, eh? Monk made beer!
The proceeds from the sale of the beer supports the abbey- covering living expenses- and also goes toward their charitable work. All Trappist Ales must be certified as such by the International Trappist Association.
Out of all the beers in the world, only seven of them can use the name ‘Trappist’: Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren and Westmalle. You can recognize them by looking for the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo.
According to the International Trappist Association web site-
A Trappist beer is only given this name if it satisfies a number of strict criteria:
- The beer is brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
- The brewery must be controlled by the monastery and have a business culture compatible with the monastic project.
- The purpose of the brewery is not to make a profit. The income takes care of the livelihood of the monks and the upkeep of the abbey site. What is left over is used for charitable purposes, social work and people in need.
My first Trappist was brewed by the monks at Westmalle, Belgium
Westmalle Dubble (Trappist Ale)
The first thing that grabs my attention on the bottle is the cool "Authentic Trappist Product" logo. The second thing is the apparently handwritten note that the beer was bottled on 9/30/10. Not something you see everyday on a bottle of beer.
I eagerly pop the cork and pour it into a wide-mouth, stemmed glass as suggested by the abbey web site.
The beer pours a very dark and hazy reddish brown, with a huge, brown, puffy head. Head retention is short lived, collapsing quickly into a thin sheen of white on the surface. A few swirls of the glass easily brings back a healthy head.
Smell is floral and woody, maybe mildly boozy, and almost sweet. It is, appropriately, intoxicating.
Mouthfeel is moderate and soft, with little activity.
Initial taste is a bit....I'll say alcoholy, but only mildly, and then transitions into a bready malt profile, with mild but noticeable tartness, which is complemented nicely by notes of wood. Finish is floral and dry and very pleasing.
I found this to be an extremely interesting (and satisfying) beer and style. Its a substantial beer, full of flavor and body. Very complex and challenging to explain, to be honest. The flavors are great, but subtle, yet numerous. I highly recommend this beer.
Whats your favorite Trappist Ale? Let me know, leave a comment, or hit me up on Twitter @mandrinksbeer.