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Trappist Beers Part 1: What Makes a Trappist?

So what exactly is a Trappist beer, and how can you tell the difference between an authentic one and the imitations.


For starters, it is important to know what exactly a Trappist is. A Trappist or Trappistine is a monastery belonging to the Cistercian Order of The Strict Observance or COSO. The monks and nuns in the monastery live and work according to the rule of Saint Benedict, which is why they are sometimes referred to as Benedictine Monks.

20 of these monasteries have formed the International Trappist Association, which is a non-profit organization located in Wleteren, Belgium. Their primary goal is to support the monasteries by protecting the trademark “Authentic Trappist Product”. They monitor he use of this appellation and also work with consumers and businesses to make sure they provide accurate information.

Products produced by the monasteries in this association carry the label “Authentic Trappist Product”. Each product has the label located somewhere on the packaging. This guarantees that the product is of monastic origin and they measure up to the standards set forth by the International Trappist Organisation.

So what are the guidelines for using the “Authentic Trappist Product” label.

  • The product must be produced within the walls of a monastery or in the near vicinity.
  • The process of production must benefit the monastery, and be in accordance with the business practices proper to monastic life.
  • Profits from the product must be primarily to provide for the needs of the community or for social services

Authentic Trappist Product Trademark Logo

The “Authentic Trappist Product” label is a proteceted trademark and as of September, 6 1985 was given futher protection when the Commercial Court in Brussels legitimized it as an official appellation. While there are over 175 Trappist monasteries throughout the world producing products labelled as “Trappist” as a designation of the origin, only the 20 included in the Association are allowed to carry the official logo.

Of the 20 monasteries currently in the ITA (International Trappist Association), There are currently 11 Trappist Breweries that have obtained the right to use the Authentic Trappist Product designation for their beer.

  • Achel
  • Chimay
  • Engelszell
  • La Trappe
  • Orval
  • Rochefort
  • Spencer
  • Tre Fontane
  • Westmalle
  • Westvleteren
  • Zundert

There are another 8 members who are not currently brewing beer. These monasteries do produce other products as you can see from the table below.

International Trappist Association Producers Chart

Stay tuned for part 2 of our trappist series when we dive in to the difference between "Trappist" and "Abbey" breweries.

If you are interested in trying trappist and abbey beers you can check out our range here:

Also we do a Belgian Beer Style Sample 8 Pack that takes you through all the different beer styles native to Belgium: