Saturday afternoon we went on a group outing set up by our expat club. About six miles or so from our house is an impressive monastery called Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven that was founded by a group of French monks in the late 1800s. We were given a tour by a wonderful guide, watched a brief (yet awesome) video on monastic life at the abbey, and had some of their delicious, delicious beer. The kids had fun (sort of) and I am now vowing to make La Trappe my go to beer from here on out.
You can read the history of Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven here. Beautiful buildings, vows of silence, a peaceful setting- it’s exactly what you think it is. Basically, the monks came here to escape religious persecution in their home country of France. The Netherlands was close and welcoming and “He found just what he was looking for in the area around Tilburg, near the little town of Berkel-Enschot: an area of open heath with several small farmhouses and a sheepfold. The local people called this area ‘Koningshoeven’ (The King’s Farmhouses) since these had once been owned by King William II.”– from abbey website
We did see a monk walking the grounds- he was dressed in robes- albeit modern ones. But he was also wearing what appeared to be Birkenstocks. He said hello to us, which made us wonder if that was his one hour during the week where he was permitted to break his silence.
The brewery was started for a couple of main reasons. Obviously the first was to generate revenue for the monks, but the second was surprising. Basically the water quality wasn’t that great- and it was better to drink beer than the water in the surrounding areas. Hence, people were willing to buy their beer.
There are high qualifications for a La Trappe beer to be called a La Trappe beer: ‘La Trappe’, the name of the beer brewed in Koningshoeven, is the only Trappist beer in The Netherlands. Only beer brewed in a Trappist monastery under the supervision and responsibility of the monks may be called ‘Trappist beer’. La Trappe is brewed according to traditional methods, from a recipe developed by the Trappist monks of Koningshoeven, using only natural ingredients, such as hops, barley malt and yeast. The brewery uses water drawn from its own well in the beer…
We saw the full version of this video during our tasting, and I have to say it was so good that even the boys sat silently and watched it!
There are five special beers brewed here, The Blonde, Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel, Quadrupel Oak Aged, Witte Trappist. They also have their organic Puur, as well as the seasonal beers. They vary from 5-10% alcohol, so beware! My favorites are the Blonde and the Isid’or. My husband had the Jubilaris- which was nearing the end of its quantity for the time being. All in all, they’re stronger than American beer, better tasting, and chances are also have better ingredients.
My friend posted this on her FB page the other day- and it made me very thankful that La Trappe beer is shipped to the US. I love the distinct taste of it and think that maybe it will offer me a reminder of where we were? We did buy a pair of those fancy dancy La Trappe glasses to clink and cheers with while sipping.
At the end of our tour, our friendly guide asked us to be ambassadors for La Trappe. Go back to our home countries (remember, we were an expat club) and tell our family and friends about their magnificent beer. So- here I am- telling YOU to look for it next time you’re out beer shopping and wondering what to get. I am almost 100% positive that if you’re a beer aficionado you’ll dig this stuff!
Lastly, One of my ‘bucket list’ items to do before we leave here is to follow a La Trappe ‘fietsroute’ (bike path) and go from bar to bar drinking their beer. I should say these aren’t regular ‘bars’. These are side cafes usually nestled in the woods with patios along the bike path. I can’t imagine this is something we can do with the kids in tow- so looks like we might need to book a sitter for the day. And possibly the day after as well.
Buy their beer! The breweries are located in Belgium and the Netherlands so what you buy in the states is shipped from here. GOOD STUFF!
I bought all kinds of goodies from their gift shop- including two of these glasses, and of course, some beer.
Check them out on Facebook and look for their beer next time you’re beer shopping!