America’s First Trappist Brewery

Originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of Zymurgy magazine.

Mentioning the term “Trappist ales” to a passionate beer lover usually results in an expression of rapture. Trappist beers are rare and universally adored. They are made only by pious, silent friars of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, the official name of the Trappist order. According to the Cistercians’ website (, fewer than 2,000 Trappist monks live in some 100 abbeys around the world, but until just a few years ago, only seven of them made beer. These brewing abbeys were all clustered in a small northwestern corner of the European continent—in Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren in Belgium, as well as in La Trappe/De Konigshoeven across the border from Belgium, in The Netherlands. However, all of that is now …

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