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|The Eighth One
|It can get fairly crowded on Trappist Tuesdays at The Tap Room bar. Most of the people who congregate
there each week come for the great beer and the discount – it’s $4 off any of the four Trappist beers they
carry. What, only four? I know it doesn’t seem like a lot considering that you can find at least 49 versions of
Budweiser in your local grocery store but before you think this is another slick bait and switch gimmick, be
aware that there are only 7 official Trappist breweries in the world. Yes, that’s every country in the entire
world even including “Parts Unknown”, the national homeland of several of my favorite professional
Talk to almost any beer geek and you will see them smile with a saintly glow at the mere mention of the
word “Trappist” (or “Trappiste” if you prefer the French). Offer them any one of the Trappist brews and they
will sing your praises to the high heaven as if they were members of the international church choir all-stars.
It’s all very logical - Trappist beers are some of the best in the world, which is as it should be since they’re
made by monks. The monks, needless to say, have the Head Brewer Upstairs on their side.
Trappists monks are members of the “Cisterican Order of the Strict “that was founded in 1098. The term
"Trappist" traces its origin to the Abbey of Notre-Dame de la Trappe in Soligny (France). At least that’s
what it says in the monks’ recruiting brochure which makes a very convincing pitch though my guess is most
people never get past “Strict”, not to mention the monk dress code which is somewhat less than on the
cutting edge of fashion.
There is no beer style called Trappist. The term "Authentic Trappist Beer" is a designation of the brewery of
origin of which six are in Belgium and one is in the Netherlands. To use the name Trappist, the beer must
be made within the walls or in the near vicinity of a Trappist abbey, the monks must supervise the brewing,
and the largest part of the profit must be spent on doing good deeds. Taken singularly or as a group the
rules go a long way in explaining why the supply stays limited despite the great demand for the product.
And that’s what got me to thinking.
When it comes to Trappist beers all one actually needs to know is if you brew it you can sell it. But since I
neither intended to join the monastery or do an excessive amount of good deeds it would seem my dream
of running a Trappist brewery and just coincidentally, becoming rich, would never come true. Then I met
“Dr” Robert Daly. The good doctor is an official, fully ordained (via an online seminary) minister. He is
legally able to perform marriage ceremonies in 18 states plus Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Western
Antilles, and several counties in Parts Unknown. Better yet, nowhere in his ordination documents (he went
for the $250 Bishop Package) did it say he could not brew beer. And that little wrinkle could be the key to
ending the monk’s monopoly of Trappist beers.
My plan was ingeniously simple. All I had to do was get ordained and then I could legally start the “Eighth
Trapiste Brewery”. By the way, “Trapiste” is not a typo. After all, in between brewing and doing all those
good deeds the monks just might have enough time to sue for copyright infringement if I claimed my beer
was Trappist. It’s the classic take off a “p” and add an “e” gambit. It works every time.
Dr. Daily was ordained by the Universal Life Church though he had many choices. To prove his point he
told me just to Google “get ordained online” and then pick which one of the listings would best suit my
spiritual brewing needs. My Google inquiry produced 824,000 results in .21 seconds. After checking
823, 998 of the listings (the last two were repeats) I decided to opt for The Chapel Fellowship Religious
Church since they had a “this weekend only” special price on ordination. Even better, they were giving
away a free upgrade that would allow me to grant temporary religious orders to candidates of my
choosing. Can anyone say “hello brewing monks”?
In an effort to broaden my supply of potential brewers I decided they would only have to be monks while they
were actually brewing. Yes, according to the fine print in my ecclesiastical certification that was kosher.
Besides, since they would only be men of the cloth for a short time each day it would save wear and tear on
their work clothes - Friar Tuck robes in a soft blue with a number “8” embroidered on the left front and
“Trapiste” on the robe’s hood. I’ve always thought that being professional begins with dressing like one.
Knowing how cynical some people can be I fully expect my brewers will be asked about the legitimacy of
our small but dedicated monastic group. No problem; our monks will simply respond by handing their
interrogator a card that reads “according to the code of the Chapel Fellowship Religious Church Brewing
Division we have taken a vow of silence. Thank you for your question. Our beer is available at your local
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?
The 8th Trapiste monastary will brew, as do our other 7 brothers, a dubbel, tripel, and quadrupel. However
to show that our men of the cloth are cut from, shall we say, a different cloth, we will make a doubell, tripeell,
and quadroupele. In this case, those are not typos. That spelling is actually accurate in the French
speaking sections of Parts Unknown.
If you purchased a Trappist beer from one of the seven recently you know it can get a big expensive. I just
saw that a pack of Westvleteren 12 bottles was selling for $215.95 on E-bay (don’t worry, the shipping is
free). A bit more down to earth, well at least the outer atmosphere, is Rochefort 10 which sells for a not very
modest $15.95 per bottle at one of my regular watering holes. The even more available Chimay White
costs double digits at most places. Not to worry, however. My Trapiste beers will have a much lower price
point to allow the average drinker to experience the true taste sensations of a real Trapiste offering. I’m
thinking of a price point to reflect the rich brewing heritage of the classic Trapiste line, oh, say somewhere
between the cost of Bud Light and Old Milwaukee.
I know you’re thinking why go through all the trouble just to become an Official Trapiste Brewery when I
follow the example of countless other breweries by simply produce something called an Abbey beer. They
have some vaguely monastic name and usually a nicely drawn, colorful picture of a generic abbey. Go into
your local beer store and you’ll see them by the dozens slyly calling out to the harried consumer that they are
what they really aren’t. Well, that sort of subterfuge isn’t for me. When you buy a Trapiste beer you get a
real Trapiste brew! Yes, we at the “Eighth Trapiste Brewery” stand for something other than the National
I know there’s a lot more work to be done on my business plan but I think this is sure to be a winner
especially with our newly designed logo. It will feature an impressionist stain glass window showing the
inside of what just might be a medieval church. There, near the rafters, is someone dressed in a circus
performer’s version of a monk’s robe (stay with me now). He seemingly is swinging from a rope. And who
Why of course, he’s the man on the flying trapiste.
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