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Now, one of the things I love about tasting notes and beer reviews is the conversations it starts and where they lead. In this case a conversation that started in The Craft Heads bar in Tokyo. Despite my limited Japanese skills (Seriously, I realized days later that I had used the same completely the wrong word at least six times), I had a very fun chat with a fellow patron in a mix of Japanese, English and mime over some shared Hair Of The Dog beers.

The reason I bring this up is we ha a short debate on what Trappist breweries exist. We both agreed on Achel, Orval, Westmalle, Westvleteren, La Trappe, Chimay and Rochfort. The classics. He mentioned an Austrian Trappist Brewery existed, which I looked up and confirmed as of a year ago Stift Engelszell was approved as a trappist brewery. I have the feeling someone mentioned this a while back and I completely forgot, but I concede he was right about the existence of the eighth brewery and look forwards to trying their products.

The reason I am writing this article however is to ask for assistance on the still disputed point. He mentioned a ninth Trappist brewery – Saint Joseph’s Abbey.

Now there are Saint Joseph beers, most relevant seems to be a Belgium Blonde and Bruin from Lefebvre. However those I would qualify as Abbey Ales as they are not made by trappist monks, but rather by a secular brewing organization that uses the name (see http://www.brasserielefebvre.be/fr/page/3/accueil). It was these beers I initially presumed we were talking about during the discussion.

However he mentioned the Trappist brewery was American so I did some searching and found (http://www.trappist.be/nl/pages/nieuwsbrieven), an announcement of an American monastery be recognized as an authentic Trappist product maker. However they seem only to be recognized for preserves and vestments. I checked their website just in case they had released an update (http://www.spencerabbey.org/work.html) but found similar information there.

So, without further information I presume the Saint Joseph beers to be unrelated to the Trappist Abbey and so Abbey Ales rather than Trappist beers. However I am open to the fact I could be wrong, and since we have a huge amount of beer fans in my audience – Does anyone know about any Trappist Brewery apart from the eight agreed on above? Especially any from Saint Joseph? If you know, e-mail me or drop a comment please.

Oh and if the man I was having this discussion with is reading this, thanks again for helping to make my last day in Japan so much fun and thanks for putting up with my mangled Japanese! かんぱい!

(EDIT: Nearly Forgot: he also mentioned Abdij Maria Toevlucht – I had a look and it seems they are working on a brewery: Trappistenbrouwerij de Kievit: but best I can see it isn’t planned to open until end this year. I shall watch with anticipation to see what happens with that)

(EDIT 2: Bloody Hell: you lot work fast: Just got info by e-mail, apparently Saint Joseph is working on building a Brewery and training up monks to brew. So, if it is completed we may be looking at a new Trappist Brewery in the USA. Thanks to everyone involved in this little information hunt)

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