Last week, Erin wrote a piece for an exciting new section on Expedia called Expedia TRIP, wherein she shared her experience visiting one of Belgium’s Trappist breweries, the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy Trappist monastery in Belgium, for those travelers like us who explore for the love of food, wine, and beer. This is the monastery that brews one of the best beers in the world, the Rochefort Trappist beer.
Erin’s piece inspired me to finally put together a post discussing the six different Trappist monasteries in Belgium that produce the world-famous Trappist beers. So far, I have visited five of the six Trappist monasteries / breweries in Belgium. And I plan to visit the sixth monastery (Orval) sometime this summer.
Belgium’s Trappist Breweries
The six Trappist breweries in Belgium are:
- St. Benedictus-Abbey (Achelse Kluis) in Achel, Belgium – Achel Beer
- Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont in Chimay, Belgium – Chimay Beer
- Abbaye d’Orval in Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium – Orval Beer
- Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy in Rochefort, Belgium – Rochefort Beer
- Sint-Sixtusabdij in Westvleteren, Belgium – Westvleteren Beer
- Abdij van de Trappisten van Westmalle in Westmalle, Belgium – Westmalle Beer
The six breweries are evenly split between the French-speaking Wallonia and the Dutch/Flemish-speaking Flanders regions of Belgium. Achel, Westmalle, and Westvleteren are from Flanders, while Chimay, Orval, and Rochefort are in Wallonia.
Visiting Belgium’s Trappist Breweries
The only one of the five monasteries / breweries I visited where you can actually visit the brewery itself was Achel.
Rochefort was the only other monastery where I was actually able to visit into the actual monastery, but that was a very special open-house event where the monastery was raising funds for renovations. On my previous visits to the abbey, I was not able to get any further than the front gate of the monastery.
At Chimay, Westmalle, and Westvleteren, a visit is actually a visit to a cafe / visitor’s center located in close proximity to the monastery and brewery. Both Westmalle and Westvleteren have cafes located just across the street from the monastery. Chimay’s Espace Chimay, or Chimay Experience, is 250-meters away from the abbey. Achel also has a cafe within the walls of Achelse Kluis. There was no cafe or visitor’s center of any sort at Rochefort, but we found a great cafe in town, La Gourmandaise.
One of my favorite aspects of visiting the cafes at the monasteries is that you can try the normal beers of the brewery, and occasionally, you can also experience special beers not produced for commercial distribution. The cafes also usually offer other products produced at the abbey, such as the monks’ cheese and pate.
Plus, there’s something special about trying these great beers straight from the source. The beer is fresher and straight from the brewery. You get to build that special connection that you can only experience by visiting the grounds where the beer is born.
Authentic Trappist Products
Those new to the Trappist name might wonder what it actually means and why should you care? Products that appear with the official Trappist label mean they “measure up to the quality and traditional standards rooted in the monastic life of a real Trappist community.”
Belgium Beer Road Trip
If you’re looking to plan a Trappist road trip, pick up a Belgium beer route map. You can find these in many of the beer stores or download one for your computer online from Belgian Beer Routes Map. As you’re traveling between the monasteries, there are a number of other great breweries you can stop at as well.
Have you visited any of the other Trappist breweries outside of Belgium? If you didn’t know, the total count of Trappist breweries is now up to 11 thanks to a new one in Italy, which was just granted status only last year.
This post is in partnership with Expedia’s new TRIP launch, but as always, thoughts and opinions are our own.