I’ll admit it: when I first started drinking beer (at the completely legal age of 21, of course) I didn’t like belgian beer. Having grown up on your typical american light lagers, I had no palate for the intense banana, clove, fig, and dark-sugar flavors typically found in belgian beers. As I began to get into craft beer, and especially now that I’ve gotten into homebrewing, I’ve started really appreciating the deep complexity and uniqueness of these styles. I’d now rank a Golden Strong or a Tripel among my favorite styles.
In this book, Stan Hieronymus lays out the current landscape of Trappist (monk-brewed belgian) beers. He discusses the history of the monasteries that still brew beer to support their charitable activities, as well as the movement in America to reincarnate some of these belgian styles. At the end of the book are lists of “recipes” (mostly just guidelines on how to clone some famous commercial Trappist and Abbey beers) as well as looks at fermentation profiles and water chemistry of traditional belgian brewing.
This is a truly refreshing read if you’re used to more traditional textbook-like homebrewing how-to books, and it’ll leave you with a sense for how to approach these styles in the future.