Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Trappist Beers for Lent

I've been trying to think of a beer-themed project to write about during Lent. While Lent is a time of personal sacrifice and prayer, I also wanted to do something different on the blog. I decided I would work on a series of posts focusing on beers from Trappist breweries. Lent seems a fitting season to spend some time learning about these beers and the men who brew them. I'll gather beers from as many of the Trappist breweries as I can find locally and enjoy them over the upcoming weeks, while at the same time doing some reading on the monks and their history. (No, this is not considered part of my Lenten sacrifice.)

The term Trappist refers to monks of the Order of Reformed Cistercians, a Roman Catholic religious order that adheres to the Rule of St. Benedict. There are about 170 Trappist monasteries in the world. Following the rules of the order concerning manual labor, most Trappist monasteries produce goods to be sold to the public in order to support themselves and their good works. A few of the monasteries produce beer for this purpose. Simply defined, a Trappist beer is a beer brewed by, or under control of Trappist monks. Only these breweries are permitted to display the Authentic Trappist Product logo which indicates compliance to the rules set by the International Trappist Association. There are seven recognized Trappist breweries in the world. Six are in Belgium and one is in the Netherlands.

The breweries and their monasteries are:Currently I have beers on hand from five of the breweries and am confident of obtaining the sixth. I don't expect to find any Westvleteren locally as it is only officially available at the abbey in Belgium. If anyone has some Westy they personally picked up at the monastery, and would like to share, I'm all ears. (I'll bring some good cheese to enjoy. :-) As I work my way through the beers I'll be updating the blog with more information about the beers and the breweries.

Additional information on Trappist breweries, their history, and the beers can be found at the Trappist Beers and Monks and The Trappist Brewers and their beers, as well as on the individual breweries' sites. I'll update the list above with links to the individual posts on each beer as I get to them. You'll also be able see all the posts in the series to date, on one page, by clicking here.

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