Brouwerij ‘t Koelschip (The Coolship, after a traditional piece of brewing equipment used to cool the wort after boiling), full name Ambachtelijke Bierbrouwerij en Distilleerderij ‘T KOELSCHIP, is a Dutch Brewer, based in Almere, which made a joke claim to make the world’s strongest beer when they made a 60% abv beer cocktail called Start the Future from a blend of beer and whiskey.

Post by Roald Smeets

English: Duchesse de Bourgogne, Belgian beer

English: Duchesse de Bourgogne, Belgian beer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Duchesse de Bourgogne is a Flanders red ale-style beer produced by Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium. After a primary and secondary fermentation, this ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of a younger 8-month-old beer with an 18-month-old beer. The name of the beer is meant to honor Duchess Mary of Burgundy, the only daughter of Charles the Bold, born in Brussels in 1457, who died young in a horse riding accident. Like all Flemish red ales, Duchesse de Bourgogne has a characteristically sour, fruity flavor similar to that of lambic beers.

beers

beers (Photo credit: uberculture)

Flanders red ale is a style of sour ale usually brewed in Belgium. Although sharing a common ancestor with English porters of the 17th century, the Flanders red ale has evolved along a different track: the beer is often fermented with organisms other than Saccharomyces cerevisiae, especially Lactobacillus, which produces a sour character attributable to lactic acid. Long periods of aging are employed, a year or more, often in oaken barrels, to impart an acetic acid character to the beer. Special red malt is used to give the beer its unique color and often the matured beer is blended with a younger batch before bottling to balance and round the character.

Flanders reds have a strong fruit flavor similar to the aroma, but more intense. Plum, prune, raisin and raspberry are the most common flavors, followed by orange and some spiciness. All Flanders red ales have an obvious sour or acidic taste, but this characteristic can range from moderate to strong. There is no hop bitterness, but tannins are common. Consequently, Flanders red ales are often described as the most “wine-like” of all beers.

Notable examples include Duchesse de Bourgogne and Rodenbach.

The Dubbel (also double) is a Belgian Trappist beer naming convention. The origin of the dubbel was a beer brewed in the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in 1856. The abbey had, since 10 December 1836, brewed a witbier that was quite sweet and light in alcohol for consumption by the paters. The new beer, however, was a strong version of a brown beer. In 1926, the formulation was changed and it became even stronger. The first written record of its sale by the abbey was on 1 June 1861. Following World War Two, abbey beers became popular in Belgium and the name “dubbel” was used by several breweries for commercial purposes.

Westmalle Dubbel was imitated by other breweries, Trappist and secular, Belgian and worldwide, leading to the emergence of a style. Dubbels are now understood to be a fairly strong (6%-8% ABV) brown ale, with understated bitterness, fairly heavy body, and a pronounced fruitiness and cereal character.

Chimay Red/Premiere, Koningshoeven/La Trappe Dubbel and Achel 8 Bruin are examples from Trappist breweries. Affligem and Grimbergen are

Grimbergen Dubbel

Grimbergen Dubbel (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

abbey breweries that produce dubbels. Ommegang and New Belgium’s Abbey Ale are examples from the USA.

Beer in Mexico has a long history. While Mesoamerican cultures knew of fermented alcoholic beverages, including a corn beer, long before the Spanish conquest, European style beer brewed with barley was introduced with the Spanish soon after Hernán Cortés’ arrival. Production of this beer here was limited during the colonial period due to the lack of materials and severe restrictions and taxes placed on the product by Spanish authorities. After the Mexican War of Independence, these restrictions disappeared, and the industry was permitted to develop. However, the arrival of German immigrants and the short-lived empire of Austrian Maximilian I in the 19th century provided the impetus for the opening of many breweries in various parts of the country. By 1918, there were 36 brewing companies, but over the 20th century, the industry consolidated until today, only two corporations, Grupo Modelo and FEMSA control 90% of the Mexican beer market. This industry is one of the most prevalent in the country, with over 63% of the population buying one brand or another. Beer is also a major export for the country, with most going to the United States, but is available in over 150 countries in the world.

In Mexico, most beer is produced by two large conglomerates, Cervecería Modelo/Grupo Modelo and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma/FEMSA. Cervecería Modelo was founded in 1925 in Mexico City, with its first two brands, Modelo and Corona, exporting eight million bottles a year to various countries. First exports to the United States were realized as early as 1933. The first of the company’s many acquisitions was the Cervecería Toluca y México, absorbing its Victoria and Pilsener brands in 1935. Modelo continued buying smaller local breweries in various parts of the country, absorbing most of the brands produced and making many of them available nationwide. Starting in the 1980s, the enterprise began new businesses, such as INAMEX, which produces malt which lead to the name change to Grupo Modelo. During the same period, the company began exports of Corona beer to the United States, becoming the second most imbibed imported beer there by 1986. Exports to other countries followed, and Corona became the number one premium imported beer in the United States in 1997. Half of Grupo Modelo’s stock is owned by Anheuser Busch.

The beer-brewing division of FEMSA was created when this entity bought Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma, which itself was created when Cervecería Cuauhtémoc bought Cevecería Moctezuma. Cervecería Cuauhtémoc was founded in 1890 by Issac Garza, José Muguerza, Joseph M. Schnaider and Francisco Sada, selling their first beer, Carta Blanca. Cervecería Cuauhtémoc grew in size in Monterrey, and like Cervecería Modelo, went national as it began to buy smaller breweries in other parts of the country, absorbing many of the local brands and making them available nationally. The biggest acquisition was that of Cervecería Moctezuma in Orizaba in the 1980s. Cervecería Moctezuma started out as the Cervecería Guillermo Hasse y Compañia in 1893, and eventually changed its name to Cervecería Moctezuma. It was a major producer of beer since the early 20th century, and was one of the largest brewing companies in the world with the merger of the two, but the new company controls over twelve brand names. FEMSA bought the combined breweries to add to its other businesses, such as bottling and packaging enterprises.

FEMSA’s brands today include Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio, Bohemia and Noche Buena. Grupo Modelo’s brands include Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial Victoria, Estrella, Léon and Montejo and Pacifico. Most of these beers are lagers brewed in large industrial plants, and made with minimal malt. Except for some dark beers, such as Dos Equis Ambar, León Negra, Negra Modelo and Noche Buena, which are Vienna-style beers, almost all beer produced in Mexico is pilsner. Beers with top fermentation had been produced in Mexico. The Cervecería Toluca was founded in 1865 by a Swiss especially to produce this type of beer, but the introduction of Bohemian style beers through the giant brewery Cuauhtémoc would define Mexican beer as pilsner.

One of the best known and most popular beers in the United States is Corona, which is the flagship beer of Grupo Modelo. Corona is the best-selling beer produced by Mexico, and the best selling nondomestic beer in both the U.S. and U.K. It is one of the five most-consumed beers in the world, available in more than 150 countries. It is a lager, and was created in 1925 to celebrate Cervecería Modelo’s tenth anniversary. Corona is light straw in color and has a very mild flavor, with little hop bitterness and 4.6% alcohol by volume. It is produced by eight facilities with a total of 4.6 billion liters per year capacity. Corona beer is available in a variety of bottled presentations, ranging from the 250-ml ampolleta (labeled Coronita and just referred as the cuartito (little quarter)) up to the 940-ml Corona Familiar (known as the caguama (sea turtle) or ballena (whale)). Unlike most beers, Corona is bottled in a clear bottle, increasing the opportunity for spoilage from sunlight, which can affect the hop oils in the beer. A draught version also exists, as does canned Corona in some markets.

The oldest and most traditional pilsner in Mexico is

If you have nice legs, why do you do this to them?

If you have nice legs, why do you do this to them? (Photo credit: Malingering)

, which has a significant hops flavor and is quite dense given its clarity. Bohemia has reached the respected distinction of being like one of the finest beers of the world. The name comes from the Bohemia region in the Czech Republic that is known for beer. It is one of the longest aged products from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc, and is the only one to use Lepa Styrian hops. There is a dark version of this brand, which is a Vienna-style beer. In 2009, the company introduced a wheat version of this beer called Bohemia Weizen made with wheat, Mount Hood hops, coriander and orange peel. It is the first wheat beer to be produced by a major beer company in Mexico.

Dos Equis was first brewed in Mexico by the German brewer Wilhelm Hasse in 1897. The original name of the beer was “Siglo XX” (20th Century) with the double X standing for the number 20, and it commemorated the arrival of that century. The original version is the Dos Equis Ambar, a Vienna-style dark beer. This was Cervecería Moctezuma’s best selling beer in the 1940s and 1950s. Demand for the beer has resurged, especially in the United States, where it is now the best-selling imported dark beer. The clear version of this brand is a lager derived from the Ambar.

Sol was introduced in the 1890s as El Sol. The name came from a ray of sunshine that fell on a pot while preparing the mash. After being off the market for many years, this brand was reintroduced in 1993, and is now exported to countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. It is a very light-colored beer with little hops flavor, and considered to be a beer for the young people and the working class. Sol is known for its sexy advertising. Sol comes in a number of varieties. Sol 2 is a stronger flavored beer, Sol limón and sal have lime and salt flavors already added, and there is a Sol Cero, a nonalcoholic beer in regular and lime and salt versions.

Tecate was originally brewed by Cervecería Tecate, and named after the city of Tecate, Baja California. The local brewery was bought by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma in 1955. It was the first beer to be canned in Mexico, with Tecate Light launched in Mexico in 1992. Tecate is one of the best-known brands in Mexico due to its patronage of sports teams and sporting events.

Noche Buena (literally Good Night, referring to Christmas Eve as the good night) is generally only available around Christmas. Many people wait for this beer’s availability each year between the months of October and December. Noche Buena is a strong-flavored, dark beer named after the poinsettia plant or noche buena in Spanish, which decorates the beer’s bottles and cartons.

Carta Blanca was Cervecería Cuauhtémoc’s first premium beer, first marketed in 1890, and is technically a pilsner. The name means “white card” in Spanish, which at the time was given to people as a sign of respect. Carta Blanca was successful when it debuted at Chicago’s Columbian Expo of 1893. Since then, the beer has won a number of other awards.

Negra Modelo is one of Cervecería Modelo’s original beers, and was first sold as a draft in 1926. While it has been classed as a Vienna-style beer, the company’s website now classifies it as a Munich dunkel (dark).

Pacífico, a Mexican pilsner beer originally brewed in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, is named after the Pacific Ocean. The picture on the bottle is the Deer Islands off the coast of Mazatlán surrounded by a lifesaver. Pacífico is Modelo’s best-selling beer in northwest Mexico, and it is exported to the southwest U.S. A light version of this beer was launched in 2008.

Estrella (Star) was originally brewed by Cervecería Estrella of Guadalajara at the end of the 19th century. This brewery was bought by Grupo Modelo in 1954. The beer is still brewed only in Guadalajara and is a regional brand, mostly sold in Jalisco state and other areas in western Mexico.

Indio was originally named Cuauhtémoc by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc. However, consumers soon began to refer to it as “Indian” for the image of an Indian on what was originally a clay bottle, now glass. The beer still has an image of Cuauhtémoc on the label.

Modelo Especial is Grupo Modelo’s second brand after Corona, and was first brewed in 1925. It is a pilsner-style beer that is available in both bottle and cans since 1966. It is second in popularity in Mexico and the company’s third best seller in the U.S. A light version, called Modelo Light, has been available since 1994.

Superior, made by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, was, as the name suggests, originally brewed to be a premium beer. Recently, interest in this beer has reappeared, and it received a gold medal at the Monde Selection in Brussels, Belgium. The design of the label has not changed in the fifty years this brand has been available.

Victoria was first brewed by Cervecería Toluca y México starting in 1865, but Modelo acquired the brand when they bought this company in 1935. It is sold in bottles, both the standard 325 ml and the large 950ml. The beer is a Vienna-style, but is an amber color and lighter than the other Vienna beers brewed in Mexico.

León and Montejo brands were originally brewed in Mérida, Yucatán by the Cervecería Yucateca, which was bought by Modelo in 1979. León is a Munich-style dark beer, which was initially brewed at the beginning of the 20th century in the southeast of the country. Montejo was first introduced in 1960 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Yucateca brewery. This brewery was bought by Grupo Modelo in 1979, and the packaging was changed to the current one in 1999. Post by Roald Smeets.

A glass of helles

A glass of helles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roald Smeets brings you Pale lager which is a very pale to golden-coloured beer with a well attenuated body and a varying degree of noble hop bitterness. The brewing process for this beer developed in the mid 19th century when Gabriel Sedlmayr took pale ale brewing techniques back to the Spaten Brewery in Germany and applied it to existing lagering methods. This approach was picked up by other brewers, most notably Josef Groll of Bavaria who produced Pilsner Urquell in the city of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic. The resulting pale coloured, lean and stable beers were very successful and gradually spread around the globe to become the most common form of beer consumed in the world today.

Bavarian brewers in the sixteenth century were required by law to brew beer only during the cooler months of the year. In order to have beer available during the hot summer months, beers would be stored in caves and stone cellars, often under blocks of ice.

In the period 1820-1830, a brewer named Gabriel Sedlmayr II the Younger, whose family was running the Spaten Brewery in Bavaria went around Europe to improve his brewing skills. When he returned, he used what he had learned to get a more stable and consistent lager beer. The Bavarian lager was still different from the widely-known modern lager; due to the use of dark malts it was quite dark, representing what is now called Dunkel beer or the stronger variety, Bock beer.

The new recipe of the improved lager beer spread quickly over Europe. In particular Sedlmayr’s friend Anton Dreher used the new lagering technique to improve the Viennese beer in 1840–1841, creating Vienna lager. New kilning techniques enabled the use of lighter malts, giving the beer an amber-red rich colour.

Pale lagers tend to be dry, lean, clean-tasting and crisp. Flavours may be subtle, with no traditional beer ingredient dominating the others. Hop character (bitterness, flavour, and aroma) ranges from negligible to a dry bitterness from noble hops. The main ingredients are water, Pilsner malt and noble hops, though some brewers use adjuncts such as rice or corn to lighten the body of the beer. There tends to be no butterscotch flavour from diacetyl, due to the slow, cold fermentation process.

Pale lager was developed in the mid 19th century when Gabriel Sedlmayr took some British pale ale brewing techniques back to the Spaten Brewery in Germany, and started to modernise continental brewing methods. In 1842 Josef Groll of Pilsen, a city in western Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic, used some of these methods to produce Pilsner Urquell, the first known example of a golden lager. This beer proved so successful that other breweries followed the trend, using the name Pilsner. Breweries now use the terms “lager” and “Pilsner” interchangeably, though pale lagers from Germany and the Czech Republic with the name Pilsner tend to have more evident noble hop aroma and dry finish than other pale lagers.

With the success of Pilsen’s golden beer, the town of Dortmund in Germany started brewing pale lager in 1873. As Dortmund was a major brewing centre, and the town breweries grouped together to export the beer beyond the town, the brand name Dortmunder Export became known. Today, breweries in Denmark, the Netherlands, and North America brew pale lagers labelled as Dortmunder Export.

A little later, in 1894, the Spaten Brewery in Munich recognised the success of these golden lagers and utilised the methods that Sedlmayr had brought home over 50 years earlier to produce their own light lager they named helles, which is German for “light coloured”, in order to distinguish it from dunkelbier or dunkles bier (“dark beer”), which is another type of beer typical for the region, being darker in colour and sweeter than helles.

Examples of helles include Löwenbräu Original, Spaten Premium Lager, Weihenstephaner Original Bayrisch Mild, Hofbräu München Original, Augustiner Bräu Lagerbier Hell and Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Helles.

The earliest known brewing of American lager was in the Old City section of Philadelphia by John Wagner in 1840 using yeast from his native Bavaria. Modern American-style lagers are usually made by large breweries such as Anheuser-Busch. Lightness of body is a cardinal virtue, both by design and since it allows the use of a high percentage of rice or corn.

Though all lagers are well attenuated, a more fully fermented pale lager in Germany goes by the name Diet Pils. “Diet” in the instance not referring to being “light” in calories or body, rather its sugars are fully fermented into alcohol, allowing the beer to be targeted to diabetics. A marketing term for a fully attenuated pale lager, originally used in Japan by Asahi Breweries in 1987, “karakuchi” (辛口 dry?), was taken up by the American brewer Anheuser-Busch in 1988 as “dry beer” for the Michelob brand, Michelob Dry. This was followed by other “dry beer” brands such as Bud Dry, though the marketing concept was not considered a success. In fully attenuated pale lagers, nearly all the sugar is converted to alcohol due to the long fermentation period. The resulting clean, lean flavour is referred to as “dry”.

A 5 litre mini keg of Bitburger Premium Beer (...

A 5 litre mini keg of Bitburger Premium Beer (a pale lager) purchased in Sydney, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Premium lager is a marketing term sometimes used by brewers for products they wish to promote; there is no legal definition for such a product, but it is usually applied to an all malt product of around 5% abv. Anheuser-Busch also uses the terms “sub-premium” and “super-premium” to describe the low-end Busch beer and the slightly higher-end Michelob.

Spezial is a stronger style of pale lager, mostly brewed in Southern Germany, but also found in Austria and Switzerland. Spezial slots in between helles and bock in terms of flavour characteristics and strength. Full-bodied and bittersweet, it is delicately spiced with German aroma hops. It has a gravity of between 12.5° and 13.5° Plato and an alcohol content of 5.5 – 5.8% abv. The style has been in slow decline over the last 30 years, but still accounts for around 10% of beer sales in Bavaria.

Bock is a strong lager which has origins in the Hanseatic town Einbeck, Germany. The name is a corruption of the medieval German brewing town of Einbeck, but also means goat (buck) in German. The original bocks were dark beers, brewed from high-coloured malts. Modern bocks can be dark, amber or pale in colour. Bock was traditionally brewed for special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent.

Malt liquor is an American term referring to a strong pale lager. In the UK, similarly-made beverages are called super-strength lager.

Oktoberfest is a Bavarian festival dating from 1810, and Märzen are the beers that have been served at the event in Munich since 1818, and are supplied by 6 breweries: Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Hofbräu-München, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. Only beers that are brewed within the borders of the city of Munich are permitted to be sold at the original Oktoberfest. Criteria for Oktoberfest To be served at the festival, beer must meet these criteria:

adhere to the Purity Law;
have an original gravity between 13.5º and 14º Plato (about 6% alc.);
be brewed by a Munich Company located within the city limits of Munich.

Upon passing these criteria, a beer is designated Oktoberfest Beer.

Oktoberfest beer is also a registered trademark of the Club of Munich Brewers. It is also known as Münchner Bier (Munich Beer). Bavarian beer (Bayrisches Bier) and beers produced in Munich (Münchner Bier) are protected by the European Union as a PGI Protected Geographical Indication. Traditionally Oktoberfestbiers were lagers of around 5.5 to 6% abv called Märzen – brewed in March and allowed to ferment slowly during the summer months. Originally these would have been dark lagers, but from 1872 a strong March brewed version of an amber-red Vienna lager made by Josef Sedlmayr became the favourite Oktoberfestbier. Since the 1970s the type of beer served at the festival has been a pale Märzen of 13.5 to 14º Plato and 5.5% to 6% abv. Though some Munich brewers still brew darker versions, mostly for export to the USA. The colour of these lagers may range from pale yellow to deep amber, with the darker colours more common in the USA. Hop levels tend not to be distinctive, though some USA examples may be firmly hopped. Modern beers sold as Oktoberfest and Märzen in Europe are mostly pale in colour.

Roald Smeets – Trappist beer is brewed by Trappist monks. Eight Trappist monasteries–six in Belgium, one in the Netherlands, and one in Austria–produce beer.

The Trappist order originated in the Cistercian monastery of La Trappe, France. Various Cistercian congregations existed for many years, and by 1664 the Abbot of La Trappe felt that the Cistercians were becoming too liberal. He introduced strict new rules in the abbey and the Strict Observance was born. Since this time, many of the rules have been relaxed. However, a fundamental tenet, that monasteries should be self-supporting, is still maintained by these groups.

Monastery brewhouses, from different religious orders, have existed across Europe since the Middle Ages. From the very beginning, beer was brewed in French cistercian monasteries following the Strict Observance. For example, the monastery of La Trappe in Soligny already had its own brewery in 1685. Breweries were later introduced in monasteries of other countries as the trappist order spread from France into the rest of Europe. The Trappists, like many other religious people, originally brewed beer to feed the community, in a perspective of self-sufficiency. Nowadays, Trappist breweries also brew beer to fund their works and for good causes. Many of the Trappist monasteries and breweries were destroyed during the French Revolution and the World Wars. Among the monastic breweries, the Trappists were certainly the most active brewers. In the last 300 years, there were at least nine Trappist breweries in France, six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, one in Germany, one in Austria, one in Bosnia and possibly other countries.

Today, eight Trappist breweries are active–6 in Belgium, 1 in the Netherlands, and 1 in Austria.

In the twentieth century, the growing popularity of Trappist beers led some brewers with no connection to the order to label their beers “Trappist”. After unsuccessful trials, monks finally sued one such brewer in 1962 in Ghent, Belgium.

In 1997, eight Trappist abbeys – six from Belgium (Orval, Chimay, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle and Achel), one from the Netherlands (Koningshoeven) and one from Germany (Mariawald) – founded the International Trappist Association (ITA) to prevent non-Trappist commercial companies from abusing the Trappist name. This private association created a logo that is assigned to goods (cheese, beer, wine, etc.) that respect precise production criteria. For the beers, these criteria are the following:

The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.

The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a          monastic way of life

The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.

Trappist breweries are constantly monitored to assure the irreproachable quality of their beers.

This association has a legal standing, and its logo gives the consumer some information and guarantees about the product.

There are currently seven breweries that are allowed to have the products they sell display the Authentic Trappist Product logo:

As of February 2012, the trappist brewery of the abbey of Engelszell, Trappistenbrauerei Engelszell in Engelhartszell, Austria, is active and has started brewing beer at the monastery (the former production had stopped in 1929). The monks claim that their next challenge will be to obtain the logo, hopefully before the end of 2012.

The Dutch brewery De Koningshoeven produces the only Dutch Trappist beers – branded La Trappe – that are able to carry the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo. Their use of the logo was withdrawn in 1999, but was restored in October 2005 (see Brouwerij de Koningshoeven for details). In 2012, an 8th brewery in Austria has started production.

The French abbey of Sainte Marie du Mont des Cats has been selling Trappist beer since June 16, 2011. This abbey has no brewery at this time and does not plan to build one in the near future, for reasons of cost and brewing skills. They have not excluded rebuilding one brewery in the future. The Trappist beer sold by Mont des Cats is produced by the Chimay brewery and does not wear the “authentic trappist product” logo.

The Trappist monks of the Abbey of Maria Toevlucht in

Westmalle trappist beer

Westmalle trappist beer (Photo credit: Verity Borthwick)

, Netherlands are planning an on-site brewery.

The designation “abbey beers” (Bières d’Abbaye or Abdijbier) was originally used for any monastic or monastic-style beer. After the introduction of an official Trappist beer designation by the International Trappist Association in 1997, it came to mean products similar in style or presentation to monastic beers. In other words, an Abbey beer may be:-

Produced by a non-Trappist monastery—e.g. Cistercian, Benedictine; or   produced by a commercial brewery under an arrangement with an extant monastery; or   branded with the name of a defunct or fictitious abbey by a commercial brewer; or  given a vaguely monastic branding, without mentioning a specific monastery, by a  commercial brewer.

With the recent exception of Koningshoeven’s Bockbier, Trappist beers are all top fermented and mainly bottle conditioned. Trappist breweries use various systems of nomenclature for the different beers produced which relate to their relative strength.

The best known is the system where different beers are called Enkel/Single, Dubbel/Double and Tripel/Triple. Considering the importance of the Holy Trinity in the church, it is unlikely that the choice of three types of beers was accidental. Enkels are now no longer brewed as such.

Colours can be used to indicate the different types, dating back to the days when bottles were unlabelled and had to be identified by the capsule or bottle-top alone. Chimay beer labels are based on the colour system (in increasing order of strength red, white and blue). Westvleteren beers are still unlabelled.

There is also a number system (6,8 and 10, as used by Rochefort), which gives an indication of strength, but is not necessarily an exact alcohol by volume (ABV). Achel combine a strength and a colour (of the beer itself—blond or brown) designation.

The idea of visiting Trappist monasteries to sample their beers has become more popular in recent years, partly due to promotion by enthusiasts such as the ‘beer hunter’ Michael Jackson. Most brewing monasteries maintain a visitor’s centre where their beers can be tasted and bought (sometimes with other monastic products such as bread and cheese). Visits to the monastery itself are usually not available to the general public. Although you can overnight in some of the monasteries (like Achel), if your purpose is non-touristic.