Good beers have a story and a tradition. When you drink one, it speaks of where it came from and who made it.

Good beers have a story and a tradition. When you drink one, it speaks of where it came from and who made it.

Nowhere is that character more refined than in the unique Trappist beers produced by monks in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Inside quiet abbeys, these Catholic monks dedicate themselves to the model of St. Benedict - a life of community, prayer and work. In addition to regular religious rituals, some farm or produce gourmet food such as cheese or bread.

Others brew some of the world's most sought-after and respected beer. Abbey ales have become a common style, but only seven breweries bear the official Trappist label.

Here's more about the six that ship beer to the U.S.


Label: Westmalle

Monastery: Abdij der Trappisten

Location: Westmalle, Belgium

Web: trappistwestmalle.be

Brewery founded: 1836

Most popular beers: Tripel, Dubbel

Fun fact: The brewery produces a third type of beer twice a year, but it's served only to monks and abbey guests at lunch.


Label: Rochefort

Monastery: Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy

Location: Rochefort, Belgium

Web: abbaye-rochefort.be

Brewery founded: 1899

Most popular beers: 6 (red cap), 8 (green cap), 10 (blue cap)

Fun fact: It took 70 firefighters to put out a blaze that ravaged the abbey in December, but the monks and beer vats were unharmed.


Label: Chimay

Monastery: Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont

Location: Forges, Belgium

Web: chimay.com

Brewery founded: 1862

Most popular beers: Triple, Red, Blue

Fun fact: Chimay's website includes its own cookbook, complete with unique recipes using its beer and cheese.


Label: Achel

Monastery: St. Benedictus-Abdij

Location: Achel, Belgium

Web: achelsekluis.org

Brewery founded: 1998

Most popular beers: Blond (8 percent ABV), Bruin (8 percent ABV)

Fun fact: When monks at Achel decided to start making beer again, their brothers from Rochefort and Westmalle helped with building the new brewery.


Label: Koningshoeven Trappist Ale

Monastery: Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven

Web: koningshoeven.nl

Location: Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands

Brewery founded: 1884

Most popular beers: Blond, Dubbel, Tripel

Fun fact: Koningshoeven is the only Trappist brewery located outside of Belgium, and its beer is commonly referred to as La Trappe.


Label: Orval

Monastery: Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval

Location: Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium

Web: orval.be

Brewery founded: 1931

Most popular beers: Orval

Fun fact: Orval's logo features a fish holding a ring. According to legend, a widow who founded the monastery lost her engagement ring, prayed to God and had it returned by a trout.

What makes a Trappist beer?

To bear the official seal from the International Trappist Association, a beer must be:

Brewed within the walls or vicinity of a Trappist abbey.

Brewed by or under the control of Trappist monks.

Produced in a way fitting to monastic life.

Produced to aid charitable operations instead of to make a profit.

Wh y the name Trappist ?

Trappists take their name from La Trappe, a French monastery that in the 17th century birthed a reform movement that became known as the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Though they eventually spread across Europe, all Trappist monks belong to this order. For more info, check out ocso.org.