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Abbey and Trappist

Trappist and Abbey beers aren't beer styles, per se: Trappist ales are brewed by monks or within the walls of a Trappist monastery and are certified by the International Trappist Association as having satisfied that and a few other strict requirements. There are a total of 178 Trappist monasteries worldwide (as of July 2015), but only 12 produce Trappist beer. Eleven of them are authorized to label their beers with the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo that shows they've complied with the strict rules of the International Trappist Association. Abbey beers, by comparison, are similar to Trappist ale flavour and style traditions with one big difference: any old John Smith could brew those beers and he doesn’t have to be a monk and give all his profits away to charity to do it.

Style-wise, Trappist and Abbey beers are generally described as Dubbels or Tripels, with some blondes or strong darks/Quadrupels thrown in for good measure. Of the 11 recognized Trappist breweries in the world that carry the ATP (Authentic Trappist Product) label, six are in Belgium (Westvleteren, Westmalle, Achel, Rochefort, Orval, and Chimay,) two in The Netherlands--one being Koningshoeven, one in Austria, one in Italy and one in The USA. On the other hand, it’s hard to quantify the number of abbey beer producers as, technically, any secular producer of the aforementioned styles are making abbey beers.

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It isn’t possible to pigeonhole all Trappist/Abbey beers within one style or range as they produce such a varied selection however all of them produce Blonde, Dubbel and Tripel with the odd Quadrupel being produced.

  • Blonde  - A derivation from a pale ale.  Light and fresh usually with a lush, creamy head and brewed to circa 7% abv
  • Dubbel – A dark beer with more roasted malts and chocolate, spicy flavours, brewed stronger to 8-9%
  • Tripel – An extra strength version of the blonde, brewed to 10%, hoppy  and bursting with flavour
  • Quadrupel – Again stronger thanTripel, but sweeter with a viscous caramel texture.  One for savouring

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In terms of service and speed of delivery Beer Hawk performed well but in terms of the beer selection, it is not for me. I bought two cases, one was a selection of Scottish beers and the other a mixed case of Great British beers, thirty bottles all told. Unfortunately most of them where produced by brewers who are over infatuated with new world hops, not so much a beer but more like grapefruit juice. I do not dislike citrus hops but I like the recipes to be balanced and in the majority of cases they were not. Thinking that I was just unlucky, I had another look through the British beer list this morning, a disappointing selection, so I will not be re-ordering.
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