ABBEY BEER

The designation “abbey beers” (Bières d’Abbaye or Abdijbier) originally applied to any monastic or monastic-style beer. After introduction of an official Trappist beer designation by the International Trappist Association in 1997, it came to mean products similar in style or presentation to monastic beers. In other words, an Abbey beer may be:

  • produced by a non-Trappist monastery — e.g. Benedictine; or
  • produced by a commercial brewery under commercial arrangement with an extant monastery; or
  • branded with the name of a defunct or fictitious abbey by a commercial brewer; or
  • given a vaguely monastic branding, without mentioning a specific monastery, by a commercial brewer.

In 1999, the Union of Belgian Brewers introduced a “Certified Belgian Abbey Beer” (Erkend Belgisch Abdijbier) logo to indicate beers brewed under license to an existing or abandoned abbey, as opposed to other abbey-branded beers which the trade markets using other implied religious connections, such as a local saint. The requirements for registration under the logo include the monastery having control over certain aspects of the commercial operation, and a proportion of profits going to the abbey or to its designated charities. Monastic orders other than the Trappists can be and are included in this arrangement.

What connoisseurs now recognize as Trappist breweries began operations in 1838. Several French monasteries, however, maintained “working” breweries for 500+ years before the French Revolution (1789–1799) disrupted religious life across the northern French province of Wallonia. Even then, some Abbey beers such as Affligem Abbey, whose name now appears on beers made by the Heineken-owned Affligem Brewery, resumed brewing from “working” monasteries until the occupation of most of Belgium in World War I. Commercial Abbey beers first appeared during Belgium’s World War I recovery.

Although Abbey beers do not conform to rigid brewing styles, most tend to include the most recognizable and distinctive Trappist styles of DubbelTripel, and Blonde ale or blond. Modern abbey breweries range from microbreweries to international giants.

As of 2011, eighteen certified Abbey beers existed:

  1. Abbaye de Cambron, brewed in Silly by Brasserie de Silly.
  2. Abbaye de Bonne Espérance, brewed in Quenast by Lefebvre Brewery.
  3. Abdij Dendermonde, brewed in Merchtem by Brouwerij De Block.
  4. Abbaye de Saint-Martin, historically referenced to 1096, is brewed near Tournai by Brasserie Brunehaut.
  5. Affligem, produced for Affligem Abbey by a Heineken-owned brewery.
  6. Brasserie de l’Abbaye du Val-Dieu is located on the grounds of a former abbey.
  7. Bornem is brewed in Oost-Vlaanderen by Brouwerij Van Steenberge.
  8. Ename is brewed in Oost-Vlaanderen by Brouwerij Roman.
  9. Floreffe is brewed to fund a school housed in a former monastery.
  10. Grimbergen, made by the large Alken Maes brewery for an extant Norbertine abbey.
  11. Keizersberg is brewed in Oost-Vlaanderen by Brouwerij Van Steenberge.
  12. Leffe, the Abbey brand of Stella Artois, itself part of the multinational Inbev corporation, is brewed under license from an extant brewery. It is thought to be the first such arrangement. Leffe has global distribution.
  13. Maredsous, the Abbey brand of Duvel Moortgat, Belgium’s second largest brewer, licensed from Maredsous Abbey.
  14. Postel is brewed in Opwijk by Brouwerij De Smedt.
  15. Ramée is brewed in Purnode by Brasserie du Bocq.
  16. St. Feuillien is a small independent brewery.
  17. Steenbrugge is brewed in Brugge by Brouwerij Palm.
  18. Tongerlo is brewed in Boortmeerbeek by Brouwerij Haacht.

Other non-certified Abbey beers include:

  • Abbaye des Rocs is made by a farmers’ co-operative and named after a local ruined abbey.
  • Kasteelbier, monastic style beers brewed in a castle.
  • The St. Bernardus brewery, based on Watou originally brewed under contract for the abbey of St Sixtus at Westvleteren, but now continued on an independent basis, in parallel with production at the monastery itself. Their range is considered a close match in recipe and style to the St Sixtus beers, which can be hard to obtain outside the area.
  • Tripel Karmeliet, wirh a three-grain recipe, is produced by Bosteels, an independent brewery who also make Pauwel Kwak.

Article from Wikipedia: “Beer In Belgium”

Abbey Beer Characteristics- DUBBEL

AROMA / BOUQUET:
Complex, rich malty sweetness; malt may have hints of chocolate, caramel and/or toast (but never roasted or burnt aromas). Moderate fruity esters (usually including raisins and plums, sometimes also dried cherries). Esters sometimes include banana or apple. Spicy phenols and higher alcohols are common (may include light clove and spice, peppery, rose-like and/or perfumy notes). Spicy qualities can be moderate to very low. Alcohol, if present, is soft and never hot or solventy. A small number of examples may include a low noble hop aroma, but hops are usually absent. No diacetyl.

APPEARANCE:
Dark amber to copper in color, with an attractive reddish depth of color. Generally clear. Large, dense, and long-lasting creamy off-white head.

FLAVOR / TASTE:
Similar qualities as aroma. Rich, complex medium to medium-full malty sweetness on the palate yet finishes moderately dry. Complex malt, ester, alcohol and phenol interplay (raisiny flavors are common; dried fruit flavors are welcome; clove-like spiciness is optional). Balance is always toward the malt. Medium-low bitterness that doesn’t persist into the finish. Low noble hop flavor is optional and not usually present. No diacetyl. Should not be as malty as a bock and should not have crystal malt-type sweetness. No spices.

MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Medium-full body. Medium-high carbonation, which can influence the perception of body. Low alcohol warmth. Smooth, never hot or solventy.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
A deep reddish, moderately strong, malty, complex Belgian ale.

RELATED ABBEY BEER (DUBBEL) BREWVIEWS:
July 18: 2016: Brewery of the Month BrewView # 2: ST. FEUILLIEN BRUNE
October 24, 2015: Brewery of the Month BrewView 4: ST. BERNARDUS PRIOR 8
October 19, 2015: Brewery of the Month BrewView 3: ST. BERNARDUS PATER 6
August 25, 2014: Brewery of the Month (BOTM) Beer Review 5:
ADELBERT’S BREWERY- 2013 VINTAGE MONKS
August 18, 2014:  Brewery of the Month (BOTM) Beer Review 4:
ADELBERT’S BREWERY- DANCIN’ MONKS DUBBEL
June 23, 2014: WORLD CUP SPECIAL: WÄLS SÃO FRANCISCO
March 31, 2014: BRASSERIE DE BRUNEHAUT- ST. MARTIN BRUNE
March 17, 2014: ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING CO. BROTHER DAVID’S DOUBLE AND TRIPLE
October 28, 2013: NORTH COAST BREWING CO. BROTHER THELONIOUS

Abbey Beer Characteristics- TRIPEL

AROMA / BOUQUET:
Complex with moderate to significant spiciness, moderate fruity esters and low alcohol and hop aromas. Generous spicy, peppery, sometimes clove-like phenols. Esters are often reminiscent of citrus fruits such as oranges, but may sometimes have a slight banana character. A low yet distinctive spicy, floral, sometimes perfumy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy and low in intensity. No hot alcohol or solventy aromas. The malt character is light. No diacetyl.

APPEARANCE:
Deep yellow to deep gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Long-lasting, creamy, rocky, white head resulting in characteristic “Belgian lace” on the glass as it fades.

FLAVOR / TASTE:
Marriage of spicy, fruity and alcohol flavors supported by a soft malt character. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. Esters are reminiscent of citrus fruit such as orange or sometimes lemon. A low to moderate spicy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy, often a bit sweet and low in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high from a combination of hop bitterness and yeast-produced phenolics. Substantial carbonation and bitterness lends a dry finish with a moderately bitter aftertaste. No diacetyl.

MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Medium-light to medium body, although lighter than the substantial gravity would suggest (thanks to sugar and high carbonation). High alcohol content adds a pleasant creaminess but little to no obvious warming sensation. No hot alcohol or solventy character. Always effervescent. Never astringent.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Strongly resembles a Strong Golden Ale but slightly darker and somewhat fuller-bodied. Usually has a more rounded malt flavor but should not be sweet.

RELATED ABBEY BEER (TRIPEL) BREWVIEWS:
July 25, 2016: JULY 2016 BREWERY OF THE MONTH BREWVIEW #3: ST. FEUILLIEN TRIPLE
June 28, 2016: DE GLAZEN TOREN – ONDINEKE OILSJTERSEN TRIPEL
May 1, 2016: VICARIS TRIPEL GUEUZE
October 13, 2015: OCTOBER 2015 BREWERY OF THE MONTH BREWVIEW 2: ST. BERNARDUS WATOU TRIPEL
November 10, 2014: SINT CANARUS TRIPEL
October 27, 2014: ST. FEUILLIEN TRIPEL (Places Review: HOPMONK TAVERN- SONOMA, CA)
September 15, 2014: UNIBROUE LA FIN DU MONDE
July 28, 2014: BROUWERIJ BOSTEELS- TRIPEL KARMELIET
July 14, 2014: BROUWERIJ DE HALVE MAAN- STRAFFE HENDRIK WILD TRIPEL
July 7, 2014: Independence Day 2014 Review: ADELBERT’S TRIPEL B
April 24, 2014: GREEN’S GLUTEN FREE QUEST TRIPEL
March 17, 2014:  ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING CO. BROTHER DAVID’S DOUBLE AND TRIPLE
February 17, 2014: ST. BERNARDUS TRIPEL
December 16, 2013: VICTORY BREWING CO. GOLDEN MONKEY
December 9, 2013: BROUWERIJ DE HALVE MAAN STRAFFE HENDRIK TRIPEL
December 9, 2013: PIRAAT
December 2, 2013: HET ANKER GOUDEN CAROLUS TRIPEL
December 2, 2013: DE RYCK AREND TRIPEL 
November 18, 2013: BOULEVARD BREWING CO. LONG STRANGE TRIPEL
November 11, 2013: ALLAGASH TRIPEL RESERVE BATCH 197
November 4, 2013: GULDEN DRAAK
November 4, 2013: BORNEM TRIPLE
October 21, 2013: UNIBROUE’S DON DE DIEU

Abbey Beer Characteristics- QUADRUPEL

AROMA / BOUQUET:
Complex fruity aroma and flavor emerge reminiscent of raisins, dates, figs, grapes, plums often accompanied with a hint of winy character.

APPEARANCE:
Amber to dark brown in color. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. A mousse-like dense, sometimes amber head will top off a properly poured and served quad.

FLAVOR / TASTE:
Caramel, dark sugar and malty sweet flavors and aromas can be intense, not cloying, while complementing fruitiness. Hop characters do not dominate; low to low-medium bitterness is perceived. None to very low hop flavor and aroma may be present. Quadrupels or “quads” are characterized by the immense presence of alcohol and balanced flavor, bitterness and aromas.

MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Perception of alcohol can be extreme. Clove-like phenolic flavor and aroma should not be evident. Diacetyl and DMS should not be perceived.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Well balanced with savoring/sipping drinkability. Oxidative character if evident in aged Quads should be mild and pleasant.

RELATED ABBEY BEER (QUADRUPEL) BREWVIEWS:
January 9, 2017: VLIEGENDE PAARD BROUWERS PRÉARIS QUADRUPEL
December 31, 2016: BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS – ABT 12 OAK AGED
October 31, 2016: QUATTRO-QUAD BLIND TASTING BREWVIEW
October 27, 2015: OCTOBER 2015 BREWERY OF THE MONTH BREWVIEW 5: ST. BERNARDUS ABT 12
July 6, 2015: CHRISTMAS IN JULY: BREWVIEW ON THE BRUERY’S 7 SWANS A SWIMMING
December 15, 2014: ST. BERNARDUS CHRISTMAS ALE
September 1, 2014: VICTORY BREWING CO. – VTWELVE QUADRUPEL 2007 and 2014 VINTAGES
August 25, 2014: Brewery of the Month (BOTM) Beer Review 6:
ADELBERT’S BREWERY- FLYIN’ MONKS
June 30, 2014: WORLD CUP SPECIAL: Review on WÄLS IPÊ
May 14, 2014: BREWERY OMMEGANG THREE PHILOSOPHERS
January 13, 2014: SIERRA NEVADA OVILA ABBEY QUAD WITH PLUMS
December 16, 2013: VICTORY BREWING CO. V TWELVE
November 4, 2013: GULDEN DRAAK 9000 QUADRUPEL

Abbey Beer Characteristics- BLONDE ALE
Go to separate page for BLONDE >

Abbey beer characteristic descriptives from 2008 BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) style guidelines. (http://www.bjcp.org)

ABBEY

AMBER

BIÈRE DE GARDE

BLONDE

BROWN

CHRISTMAS / WINTER

FLEMISH RED

HOPPY

IPA

LAMBIC

MÈTHODE CHAMPENOISE

OUD BRUIN

OTHER

PALE ALE

PILS

SAISON

SCOTCH

SOUR

STOUT

STRONG ALE

TABLE

TRAPPIST

WITBIER

 

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