Jordan Knott
June 10, 2012 | Beer | Jordan Knott

Trappist Beer, the Beer of Belgian Monks.


Being a bit of a beer freak, I love to hear about interesting things happening in the world of beer.  To me the story of the beer is almost as important as the beer itself.  Naturally, I am drawn to the beers of Belgium.  There is no place in the world that has more of a history with beer than Europe.  One place in particular is known for its interesting and unique brewing traditions, and that place is Belgium.

In Belgium, beer is more than a drink; it’s a way of life.  It is also home to one of the most amazing and interesting brewing groups in the world, the Trappist Monks.  There are eight Trappist monasteries in the world, six of them being in Belgium, and they brew some of the best and most sought after beers in the world. 

There are very strict rules and regulations that go along with being a true and authentic “Trappist” brewery.   

  • The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery by the monks themselves or under their direct supervision.  
  • The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and run in accordance to a monastic way of life.
  • The brewery is not intended to be for-profit.  The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the building and grounds, with whatever is left over donated to charity.
  • Trappist breweries and constantly monitored to assure the irreproachable quality they strive to achieve.

Because the breweries are non-profit, the beer they make is only available in small quantities, making some of the rarer brews nearly impossible to find in North America.  The one beer in particular I will mention is Westvleteren 12.  This beer is not exported anywhere, is made in extremely low quantities and is also widely regarded as the single best beer ever made.

The only way to obtain this beer legally is to call the monastery itself and place your order (you are not permitted to order more than 24 bottles).  Then you must fly to Belgium, drive to the monastery and pick it up in person.  You are then not allowed to order more for sixty days.  Resale of their products is strictly forbidden.

How could you not be intrigued by this beer?  I know I am.  So how will you ever taste this elusive, magnificent beer?  Well unless you have plans on visiting Belgium anytime soon, I have a second best.

There is another brewery in Belgium, known as St. Bernardus.  St. Bernardus brewery was built under the supervision of the monks of the Westvleteren brewery and they brewed beer for Westvleteren until the partnership dissolved.  Fortunately, many of the recipes remained.  The St. Bernardus Abt 12 is brewed based on the original recipe for Westvleteren 12.  While I have not had the Westvleteren, I have had the St. Bernardus, and it is amazing.  It’s rich and complex and has aromas and flavours of flambéed bananas and cocoa.  I recommend it highly and I hope that knowing a bit about its history makes the experience all the more enjoyable for you.

Stay classy and drink real beer.


Interested in Belgian beers?  Find them here at this link, including the St. Bernardus Abt 12!

Abbey Ales/Trappists



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@ Oct 7, 2016 at 1:27 AM
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