Trappist Beer Tasting with Stuart Hudson

Stuart Hudson is a good man…

La Trappe beers

Despite being Australian, and therefore not knowing much about cricket, he certainly knows his beers, and in particular Trappist brews. He recently spent a couple of weeks in the Low Countries, visiting all seven Trappist breweries, and brought back his own weight in bottles.

Earlier this week he hosted a tutored tasting at Kanaloa of 20-odd beers, all paid for out of his own pocket, and it made me wonder what other industries would see this sort of thing happen?

The Trappists

The Trappist brewers are monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. One of these rules states that monks should work and be self sufficient instead of relying on charity to maintain their lifestyles and abbeys.

While many of the monasteries produce anything from cheese to coffins to do this, several opted to brew beer for sale and this monastic pursuit has come to be the World’s gain.

The Beers

Stuart Hudson contemplating beer

Stuart guided us through the beers by brewery, with most falling into one of the establish Trappist categories:

  • Single or Enkel: 4-5% ABV, and usually only consumed by the monks themselves
  • Dubbel: 6-7% ABV, dark beers
  • Tripel: 8-9% ABV, light beers
  • Quadrupel: 11+% ABV, heavy beers

While there were too many on offer to describe in detail here, BarLifeUK was particularly taken with the La Trappe Tripel, which came in at 8% ABV and had crazy cinnamon notes on the nose and despite being so strong was eminently drinkable.

The last beer we tasted, Westvleteren 12 (10.2%) is ranked as best in the world by several commentators. While we probably haven’t tasted enough types of beer to agree or disagree with this, it was certainly the best on offer at the tasting, and was incredibly complex both on the nose and tongue.

Big thanks are due to Stuart for providing the beers to try, and to Kanaloa for hosting the tasting. Stu really knows his beer-onions, so he should be your first port of call on the subject, and he can be found behind the stick at Kanaloa most nights…