As someone who lived in Brussels for a good amount of time, drinking beer becomes a daily part of life. Belgium was where I first learned about trappist beers. Despite the dozens of tasty witbier and lambic varieties I’ve tried, nothing compared to the taste and quality of a Belgian trappist beer. Referred to as such because of the monks that brew them in abbeys, trappist beers are some of most complex and delicious beer you’ll ever taste. Currently, there are only thirteen recognized abbeys in the world, with almost half of them located in Belgium. Should you find yourself staying in Brussels, try one of these best Belgian trappist beers. If time permits, visit an abbey too for an even better beer sampling experience.
Best Belgian Trappist Beers for Every Occasion
Rochefort from Brasserie de Rochefort
The monks that brew Rochefort sits in the town of Rochefort, about an hour and half drive southeast of Brussels. The abbey itself has been around for over 900 years and the documented history of beer making began all the way back to 1595. Rochefort produces three types – 6, 8, and 10 – varieties for purchase.
The first, 6, is a lighter brown beer with a slight fruity aftertaste. The 8, is very similar to the 6 but darker and contains a higher alcohol volume. Finally, the 10, is what many will compare to a classical stout, rich with coffee and cacao flavors. Of the three, 10 is the more revered, though my personal favorite is the 8. It is a smooth beer to drink, filled with aromatic scents of chocolate and caramel. It is appropriate to consume any time of the year.
Westvleteren from Brouwerij de Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren
For years, beer enthusiasts will take this special trek 90 minutes west of the Belgian capital to the small town of Vleteren to sample what many critics call the best Belgian trappist beers: Westvleteren 12. Due to its limited availability, (the Saint Sixtus monks still produce the same amount as they did 60 years ago despite the increased demand), the abbey is one of the only few places to get them without paying exorbitant prices.
Visiting the brewery includes a small tour and an opportunity to sample all three of the types produced: Blond, 8, and 12. Make sure to reserve your orders prior to arriving to avoid disappointment.
Chimay from Bières de Chimay
If you’re just learning about Belgian trappist beers or just Belgian beers in general, it’s very possible that your introduction will include the mention, even a sample of Chimay. The most common and available trappist beer around the world, Chimay beers come in five types. The most popular (and for good reason) is Chimay Blue. Considered by many as one of the best Belgian trappist beers, the fact that mass production hasn’t altered its taste makes it even more impressive. As soon as you open up a bottle and pour, indulge in the powerful and complex scents of caramel, cherry and other spiced aromas.
Do you have your own listing of the best Belgian trappist beers? Share your tasting notes and food pairing suggestions below.