The classification of a Trappist Beer is determined by the International Trappist Association, which was formed in 1997 by a number of Trappist Monasteries to protect the naming and labeling of their beers from other breweries that encroached on their unique brewing philosophy and history. The criteria for a monastery’s classification as Trappist is as follows:
1) The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
2) The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life
3) The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.
Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.
Trappist breweries strictly comply with all health and safety standards as well as consumer information standards. Their advertising and communication is marked by honesty, soberness and a modesty proper to the religious setting in which the beer is brewed. (Taken from the International Trappist Association website.)
Trappist beer should not be confused with Abbey beer. While many Abbey beers are produced by monasteries, they may not meet the criteria above. There are also beers on the market that are produced by brewers outside of monasteries that call themselves Abbey or Abbey Style beers in order to take advantage of the prestige associated with the beers produced by religious orders.
Trappist beers are all ales, are mostly bottle conditioned, and have been historically labeled by their strength:
Patersbier (Father’s beer) – A “session” beer usually only available to the monks at the monastery.
Blonde (or single) – A beer that is relatively light in color, body and strength.
Dubbel (or double) – A brown ale with mild bitterness, a breadiness, heavier body, a fruity yeast character and an alcohol level around 6-8%.
Tripel (or triple) – A strong ale of 8-10%. Lighter in color than a double with a pronounced yeast character that is rather dry and can be grassy.
Quadruple – A strong dark ale with an ABV that can reach 10% and above, and exhibits raison, fig and port-like characteristics.
Trappist beers have also historically used colors (prior to printed labels) and numbers to identify their beers.
The official Trappist Monastical Breweries are:
La Trapp (Netherlands)
Mont des Cats (France)
Tre Fontane (Italy)
We are proud to carry 7 of the 12 Trappist Beers here at West Vail Liquor!