The Belgian Trappist: World Class Classics you Never Tried

  • 01/10/2013
  • Terelle Jerricks

By Bobby Trusela of Trusela’s Restaurant


The Indian Pale Ales has been dominating the market in popularity, appearing in pubs, breweries, and and restaurants almost to the exclusion of everything else. But that’s beginning to change as enthusiasts have begun experimenting with Belgian Trappists ales, driving an underground popularity of these beers. We’re now beginning to find these beers in places that used to have only IPAs on tap. And the interesting thing about this fact, is that they’re being brewed in Napa Valley, the heart of California’s wine industry.

The Belgian Trappist style has been growing steadily in popularity in recent years, and the brands grown in Napa Valley has begun influencing younger generations of beers in the state.

Orval Trappist beer, Westmalle Tripel, and Rochefort 10 are three examples of this beer.
The Orval has light firm body with an acidic dry finish. This sort of beer is perfect as an before or after dinner aperitif with its earthy sage flavors. The wild Belgian yeast brings out the traditional characters and flavors this beer is known for.

The Westmalle Tripel has a orangey gold color with a complex combination of flavors and aromas. It has fruity orange peel taste with spicy coriander sage. It has a relatively high alcohol content of 9.5 percent ABV. This is an amazingly drinkable beer.

One major cool fact of this beer is that it’s brewed by Catholic order of monks called the Cistercian Trappists.  This was a full on lifestyle ingrained in their lifestyle of prayer, community, and work. They contribute the proceeds to rebuild monasteries, communities and other charitable works.

The top fermented ales are generally bottle-conditioned, particularly the trappist beers. A level of technically brewed beer that modern brewers try to match today.

The Rochefort 10 is legendary in beer circles after winning hundreds of competitions over the past few decades. It has been consistently crowd judged online on beer blogs such as with five stars.

The Rochefort 10 represent the “strong dark” and/or “Quadrupel Belgian “style with its dark ruby to dark brown coloring with a thick creamy head. There’s a finesse to this beer with its silky smooth mouth feel and rich deep flavors. Dark fruits, toffee, cocoa, classic Belgian yeast, spice notes, and malty sweetness, finishing off creamy. This beer enters the double digit alcohol levels at 11.3 + percent ABV.

These beers are a must drink from either their official monastery glass, the wide mouth goblet styled mug, or snifter styled brandy glass.

With all the history and culture that is imbued in these beers, I sometimes imagine myself in the dark ages drinking beer from a local monastery from a medieval widemouth goblet.

If you’d like to get an idea of what the Belgian Trappist beer taste like, pick up a Belgian or Trappist inspired beer at Trusela’s restaurant, or a fresh brewed version of this style at Monkish Brewery in Torrance.

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