In the past, I’ve have reported here at The Brew Club about the seven Abbeys in Europe that are licensed to brew authentic Trappist Beer. This gives these interesting brews a rarity and cachet that has encouraged other brewers to brew ‘Abbey’ style beers that have no Trappist connections whatsoever – examples of these being Maredsous, Corsendonk and Leffe.
I’ve managed to source and taste beers from six of the seven authenticated Trappist breweries, reviews are either here now, or will be soon!
But sadly one has evaded my attentions.
While most of the Trappist breweries have embraced the fame that their brews enjoy and have developed commercial organisations to use the brews to raise funds for their good causes, one Abbey – St. Sixtus’ Abbey, Westvleteren – near the beautiful Belgian town of Ypres – has turned its back on such commercialism and now only brews a ‘paterbier’ for its own consumption and that of its guests. Although by all accounts it’s sometimes available at a café adjoining the monastery.
And they’re getting stricter about whom they consider to be guests. These days you almost need to be wearing a monk’s habit before you can put a sandal clad foot in their door. To quote Father Abbott: “We are not brewers. We are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks.”
Which is a great shame, as Michael Jackson rated the brew highly, and this rare and much sought after brew is widely regarded, by all who have been lucky enough to sample it, as the finest example of Trappist Ale.
Needless to say I will continue to search for it, and if I ever do lay my hands on a bottle, or make a pilgrimage to Westvleteren myself, then you’ll read about it here at The Brew Club.
Bob the Brit