The Wandering Kiwis have a small obsession with Trappiste beer. That is, beer brewed by Trappist monastery breweries. Not just with drinking it but with visiting the monasteries where it is brewed.
This Cistercian religious order originated in La Trappe, France and is marked by strict tenets of self-sufficiency. So the original monastery and later offshoots would brew beer for themselves and the community.
A few years ago we visited three Trappiste breweries in the beautiful Ardennes region of Belgium: Orval, Chimay and Rochfort. That leaves three more Trappiste breweries to visit in Belgium: Westvleteren, Westmalle and Achel.
Recently we added another to the collection in the Netherlands – the Abdij De Koningshoeven produces the delicious range of La Trappe beers and makes a lovely lunchstop when travelling northwest from Amsterdam.
The slender spires of the Abbey rise above a manicured continental garden amid typical Dutch countryside. In the grounds there is a shop and a restaurant where you can enjoy tastings and hearty monastic food.
There were seven beers on tap – the Witte Trappiste, Blind, Dubbel, Bockbier, Tripel, Quadrupel and Isid’or La Trappe beers.
What could be better on a cold winter day than a chunky pea and ham soup with cheese and bacon, along with bread baked by monk using traditional methods? All the food is made using locally-sourced produce and I have to say both the roast chicken and the venison stew were amazing.
The Tasting Room kitchen works in partnership with the monks, using their products. Like other Trappist monasteries, the team at La Trappe also make other goods such as cheese and bread. These can also use the logo but only if the products are made within the walls of the (Trappist) monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision, and any profits should be donated to charity and the maintenance of the community.
The Trappist bread uses spent-grain, a fibre-rich by-product of the brewing process. Even the cheese has a mild beer taste – it is treated with La Trappe Tripel. The unique flavours of La Trappe beer are unsurprisingly also used in soups, sauces and marinades.
The service is very friendly and I’m sure it is also absolutely lovely to eat and drink here in the summertime. Mains were between 15 and 20 euros and there are also lighter meals available.
The final member of the original group of eight breweries approved by the International Trappiste Association is Mariawald Abbey in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. Basically the Authentic Trappist Product (ATP) logo ensures authenticity, tradition and quality are maintained.
In the last few years three further breweries have been added to the list. In 2012 the Abbey of Engelszell in Engelhartszell, Austria started re-stared the production of beer that had been stopped in 1929 and got the ATP logo for their beer.
And in 2013 another two breweries were given the Trappiste seal of approval: Maria Toevlucht’s abbey in Zundert (also the Netherlands) and the other is in the United States. So our quest is far from complete!
By Natasha von Geldern
Do you love Trappiste beer? Have you visited any of the monasteries?
The Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven (Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven) is near Tilburg in the Netherlands and the address is:
5056 RP Berkel-Enschot