St. Joseph’s Abbey is America’s First Officially Recognized Trappist Brewery

Beer-BottleThe Spencer Trappist Ale from St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass. has officially been recognized as a Trappist beer product as of December 10.

“At a meeting yesterday of the International Trappist Association in Brussels, the Spencer Trappist Ale was awarded the ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ designation,” François de Harenne, Commercial Director of the Orval Trappist brewery, said. “The decision was made after several controls made on the premises during the last weeks. We also were lucky enough to taste the beer.”

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information about availability or distribution yet. From Drink Belgian:

The label proudly states “American Trappist” and “Pair with Family and Friends.” The beer is blond with 6.5% abv. Look for a full write up as more details become available. Also of note is that the label states the beer contains 11.2 fluid U.S. ounces, or 33 cl of beer, which is the same size used by most of the Trappist breweries in Europe, rather than the 12 fluid ounce/355 ml size that is most common here in the U.S. Perhaps they are using bottles produced in Europe.

St. Joseph’s Abbey is the first American Trappist brewery, and the tenth in the world, joining some exceptional company: Achel, Chimay, Gregorius, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren, and Maria Toevlucht’s abbey in the Netherlands (also granted Trappist status around the same time as Spencer) are the other designated Trappist breweries.

In order to be certified as a Trappist beer, there are a number of conditions that must be met. Most importantly, the beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist Abbey, under the control of the monks.

“Trappist” is not a style of beer. Trappist monks brew pale ales, dark brown dubbels, blonde tripels, quadrupels, witbiers and strong, dark ales. Now, with the addition of a brewery at the Austrian Trappist monastery, there will soon be even more beers added to the list. With so much variety, one could hardly use the word Trappist to describe a style of beer.

The fact that a number of breweries in the USA are using the word Trappist to describe beers that are clearly not produced by Trappist monks has drawn the attention of the International Trappist Association, or I.T.A. The Association considers it a growing problem. For one thing, they don’t like the idea that a consumer might mistake a commercially brewed American beer for an Authentic Trappist brew.

Can’t wait to get my hands on some of these beers once more information about them is available.

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