A-Z Series

“A” is for Abbey Beer

trappist monk
trappist monk

“A” is for Abbey Beer

We are happy and excited to officially launch our weekly Beards A-Z featuring the hard work and fun talents of our Beards Storyteller, Mary Clinton, and Harbinger of Beer, Emily.

Each week Mary will be diving into her own beer knowledge as well as outside research to provide us Beards Enthusiasts with more craft beer trivia and knowledge. Remember, here at Beards we are all about expanding the Full Beards Experience–the more you know about the beer in your pint, the happier you’ll be, we say.

So, without further adieu, let’s kick things off at the beginning with the letter ‘A.’

‘A’ is for ABBEY BEER.

In the craft beer world, the Belgians are renowned for their beer and for the great variety of beers they brew. But hold on! Let’s not confuse Abbey beer with the infamous and centuries old Trappist beer. Among the most famous Belgian beers are the Trappist beers. Trappist beers are ales that are brewed by monks within their monastery. Example Trappist breweries: Westmalle, Orval, Chimay.

Abbey beers on the other hand, are those brewed outside of an abbey, but in the style of an abbey beer. They may have a historic connection to a brewery, but are typically true commercial enterprises. Some may even retain the name of the abbey that began the beer. In his 1997 book “The Classic Beers of Belgium” Christian Deglas identifies nearly three dozen abbey beer breweries in Belgium. The true Trappists breweries, on the other hand, are just a few in number (More on that when we get to ‘T’).

To summarize: Trappist beers are Abbey beers, but an abbey beer is not necessarily a Trappist beer, get it? The monks are important!

Does that make abbey breweries Trappist imposters? Heck no! The importance & tradition of brewing in the Trappist style has merely inspired Belgium and her residents to provide us with more amazingly-concocted beer! They may not have the Trappist title, but they have the respect.

In regards to connecting Belgium all the way to wee Beards Brewery in NoMi we can honestly say that Belgian beer styles have always been a part of inspiring and influencing our own brewing recipes and styles. And although we cannot call any of our beers Trappist or Abbey, we can refer to one of our core beers, Luna.

Luna is a Wheat Saison, which we have always referred to as a hybrid of an American Ale with a French/Belgian-inspired twist. The Saison style of beer originated in a French-speaking region of Belgium. What makes Luna a Saison is the yeast we use to ferment the beer, giving it the awesome aroma and flavor of citrus and cloves.

Thanks for tuning into Beards A-Z! If you want to know more about Abbey beers, give us a shout in the comments below. Mary and Emily are here to whet your appetite for beer knowledge–we aren’t experts by any means, but we have lots of enthusiasm and a penchant for research.

This week, go to your local craft bottle shop and poke around for some Trappist or Abbey beers! Compare them to American-style Belgian beers to see what you think. It’s fun to experiment & discover in the craft beer world (it usually involves drinking, Huzzah!).

Image below: Eduard Grutzner’s “The Connoisseur”