While doing some research for our upcoming France/Belgium trip I decided that instead of visiting some French wineries, I would much rather visit an authentic Trappist brewery. This is easier said than done. Monks are…well Monks. They like their peace, quiet and solitude and are not producing product for financial gain but merely as a means to live. There are a total of 18 Trappist Monasteries around the world of which 10 are in Belgium. Since we are going to be there anyway, why miss the opportunity of a lifetime to visit? This is the stuff that should be on any beer lovers ‘Bucket List’. Most of the monasteries have really specific opening hours so some forethought and planning is key. One that really interests me is Orval Abbey. It is located in Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium and seems to have a selection of beers and cheese for purchase. While visiting you may also tour the ruins of the Abbey built in the 12th Century. History, cheese, beer. What more could one ask for?
At Willow Park Wines I managed to find several types of authentic Trappist beer from Belgium. They are sold individually and are not cheap. I bought Orval and Achel, both darker Ales with some really complex flavours best enjoyed at 12-14C. Next door at the Springbank Cheese shop I asked if they had any cheese from Orval and I got a blank stare. It sort of made me feel like John Cleese in the Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch. But, the owner did a google search and found that they did indeed have a Trappist cheese from Chimay in stock. It was then that I realized Willow Park also had three beers from Chimay in stock as well. It was too late for me to go back and get one to pair with the cheese but I figured it would be fine with the other two beers. The Chimay cheese is very creamy but deceivingly strong and the beer washed rind definitely gives off a burned grains taste. It was too strong for kids one and two but kid/adult number three enjoyed it. We enjoyed out brief taste of Belgium Tuesday night and can’t wait for the real trip to start.