The seven monasteries and their locations are:
- Achelse Kluis (Hamont-Achel, Belgium)
- Chimay (Chimay, Belgium)
- Orval (Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium)
- Rochefort (Rochefort, Belgium)
- Westmalle (Malle, Belgium)
- Westvleteren (Westvleteren, Belgium)
- Koningshoeven (Berkel-Enschot, The Netherlands)
- The product must be made within the walls of a Trappist abbey or in an immediate vicinity.
- The equipment necessary for the production must clearly express a dependency on the monastery.
- The product must be made by or under the supervision of the monastery community.
- The largest part of the profit must be spent on social work.
So How Do the Trappists Taste?
To be honest, they really vary. As mentioned in a previous post, I love the Westmalle beers. I find Achel an average beer at best and the others are somewhere in between. Here, then, is my ranking of the Trappist beers, scored by my favorite offering from each*:
- Westmalle: far and away my personal favorite Trappist beer (so far*). I love both the tripel and double and never tire of them.
- Rochefort 10: thick, smooth and complex. Just remember that they are over 11% ABV. The 6 and 8 are also excellent, but cannot top the 10.
- Chimay: I like all three Chimays (red, white and blue, in increasing alcohol content). These days I favor the white, aka Tripel, at 8% ABV.
- La Trappe Quadrupel or Tripel (Koningshoeven): I’ve found the Dutch Trappists to be quite polarizing. Some feel the Quadrupel (10% ABV and aged in oak barrels) achieves its high alcohol content too artificially. But I find the Quad to be complex, with two to three discrete waves of tastes, including fruitiness (maybe grapefruit) and perhaps burnt toffee. I found the Tripel less memorable and was surprised to see they offer a white trappist (haven’t tried it yet).
- Orval: I went through phases with this beer (they only offer one type). When I first arrived in Belgium, I found it a hoppy revelation with rich, deep appearance. After I discovered what else was out there, Orval seemed a bit underwhelming to me with little taste complexity. But lately I came to again appreciate its subtle hoppiness in contrast to its cousins. I like to order it on certain occasions, particularly as it is lower in alcohol at 6.9% — practically non-alcoholic by Belgian standards. I also really like their logo and beer squares.
- Achel Blond: I wish I could report otherwise, but I am not a big fan of this Trappist. I had one just the other day and found it unidimensional and uninteresting. When there are so many more delicious and rewarding beers out there, I can’t see myself drinking many of these. Ok, it’s still a good beer. But it doesn’t stack up well. Perhaps the bruin would be better?