More Abbey style and Trappist beers can be found on the Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel pages. Closely associated with Belgium, where the majority of beer producing Trappist monasteries are to be found, the Trappist order of monks and nuns can trace its history back to La Trappe monastery in Normandy where it was founded in 1664. As of December 2013, the beers from eleven monasteries were recognised by the International Trappist Association. Abbey beer in general, however, can simply refer to a ‘monastic-style’ ale, which may be named after fictitious or long since closed abbeys by secular brewers. Some are also produced under license and make contributions to the religious institution whose name they carry.
In terms of style, Trappist and Abbey beer is a broad church indeed, from spicy blondes through rich dark ales including Dubbels, Tripels and even Quadruples.
The International Trappist Association was founded in 1997 by eight Trappist monasteries: Orval, Chimay, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle and Achel from Belgium; Koningshoeven (La Trappe) from the Netherlands; and Mariawald from Germany. Since then Maria Toevlucht (Zundert), also in the Netherlands, Engelszell (Gregorius) in Austria, Tre Fontane in Italy and St. Joseph’s (Spencer) in the US have also been recognised. To qualify for consideration, the beer must be brewed within the walls of the abbey by the monks themselves (or under their supervision). The brewing operation must also take secondary importance to the abbey’s monastic work and way of life and should not make profits (any surplus should go to charitable causes).
The best known example of an abbey beer is Leffe, brewed by drinks giant AB InBev, with money still going to the abbey of Leffe in Wallonia. Grimbergen, brewed by Heineken is another well known example.