BELGIUM: The last Trappist leaves his abbey and one more beer dies off

The other day I posted about the wine being produced, now available in these USA, by the great monks of Le Barroux. HERE

Sad news from the Brussels Times, covered also by the SSPX.

All the more reason to preserve TRADITION.   Where Tradition is allowed, vocations will come.

The world is one Trappist beer poorer as abbey loses last monk

In a week that saw Belgium’s most reclusive Trappist brewer turn to home deliveries, the news emerged that one of the six Belgian Trappist breweries will no longer carry the authentic Trappist label.

At the start of this week, the world had 14 authentic Trappist beers, six of them in Belgium: Westvleteren, Westmalle, Orval, Chimay, Rochefort and Achel. The others are spread among the Netherlands with two, and one each in Austria, Italy, the UK, France, Spain and the United States.

Now, at the end of the week, Achel has removed itself from the list. The reason: the abbey no longer has any monks.


Achel, produced in the monastery known as the Achelse Kluis in Hamont-Achel right on Limburg’s border with the Netherlands, is perhaps the least well-known of the six Belgian Trappists, compared to the ostentatiously minimalist marketing of Westvleteren, or the slick commercial approach of the likes of Chimay or Westmalle.

Since this week, however, it is also the one with no monks. And that is in breach of the condition that a Trappist beer may only be produced in a living, working religious community.


The SSPX observes that there are only 5 authentic Trappist beers left in Belgium.


The Trappists, officially known as the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, follow the rule of St. Benedict of Nursia (born around AD 480). The Cistercian order is a reformed branch of the Benedictines whose origin dates back to the founding of the Cîteaux Abbey by Robert de Molesme in 1098.

After the Council of Trent, a deep spiritual renewal manifested itself throughout the Church. In the Cistercian Order, it was reflected in the 17th century by the Strict Observance movement, which reform Abbot Armand-Jean Le Bouthillier de Rancé applied to the Abbey of La Trappe, in the forest of Mortagne, Orne, which gave its name to the Trappists.

During the French Revolution, the state confiscated La Trappe monastery and closed religious houses. The monks then took refuge in Switzerland, Russia, and also in Belgium where they settled in Westmalle, in the province of Antwerp in Flanders.

Since 1836, a reform has allowed the Trappists to consume the drinks of their regions. For instance, the French monks produced wine. But in Belgium, the local drink of choice was beer, and so the monks began to brew and the first Trappist beers were born.

In Belgium, five breweries now produce “Authentic Trappist Product” beers: Chimay (Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey), Orval (Notre-Dame d’Orval Abbey), Rochefort (Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy Abbey), Westmalle ( Notre-Dame de la Trappe du Sacré-Cœur Abbey), and Westvleteren (Notre-Dame de Saint-Sixte Abbey).

In other parts of the world, six other beers also benefit from this label: La Trappe (Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven) and Zundert (Abbey of Our Lady of the Refuge) in the Netherlands; Spencer (Saint Joseph Abbey, United States); Engelszell (Stiff Engelszell, Austria); Tres Fontanes (Monastery of Saint Vincent and Saint Anastasius at Tres Fontanes, Italy); and Tynt Meadow which has been brewed since 2018 at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in England.

More traditional foundings, more monks, more beer. Everyone wins.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. LeeGilbert says:

    There is a solution to this Trappist deficit, a return to the Trappist tradition through the writings of Abbe’ Armand-Jean de Rance’, the founder of the Trappists. Here is his “On the Sanctity and Duties of the Monastic State” under a different title:

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    i am an enthusiast of Chimay – especially Cinq Cents which i reserve for the octaves of Christmas and Easter. bigger than nearly any other both in ardor and gross tonnage.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    I can heartily endorse Spencer Trappist – they’re excellent!

  4. Pingback: MONDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  5. ChesterFrank says:

    Should the EPA or a similar international body be petitioned to have “Trappist Monks” put on “The Endangered Species List?” Pope Francis did write on ecology, and environmental pollution has certainly had an effect on the Trappist Monk. Facetious? No, not really. It’s an honest assessment of the issue.

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