The “Authentic Trappist Product” designation for beer is well regimented, with 11 breweries currently allowed to use the labeling. The ATP hexagon identifies beers made inside Trappist monasteries while adhering to certain key requirements—such as being brewed by monks or under their supervision, and generating profits used solely for monastic upkeep, or charity.
The majority of us become familiar with Trappist beer through one of the Belgian breweries: Achel, Chimay, Orval (Michael Jackson’s presumed favorite), Rochefort, Westmalle and the much-esteemed Westvleteren. There’s also Austria’s Stift Engelszell, La Trappe and Zundert in The Netherlands, Tre Fontane in Italy (with piddly distro), and Spencer here in the U.S. A twelfth, Mont des Cats in France, is technically a Trappist beer but it gets brewed at Chimay.
So, think back… Which of the above has made the biggest impact on you? Personally, I recall ideal pairings of Chimay Blue + Ashton VSG cigars back when I lived out on the east coast (and still smoked cigars). Orval’s pretty much always difficult to pass up. Westy 12’s proven world-beating or meh depending on the batch, while Westvleteren Blond is wholly different and pretty great in its own right. Plus, the Achel and Westmalle golden and brown beers are otherworldly and actually easy to find… But man, I’d put Rochefort 10 up against anything: epic malt depths and caramelization, but absurdly smooth and crisp. What’s your favorite?