Space exploration and traditional brewing practices fused together recently when Belgian astronomers Michäel Gillon and Emmanuel Jehin discovered a small planetary system 40 light years from Earth and named its sun TRAPPIST-1, after an international network of monastic breweries. And, to put the head on the brew, the two astronomers also named the star’s orbiting Earth-sized planets after Trappist brews, including Rochefort and Orval.
Gillon and Jehin, whose observations so far are based solely on viewing these planets’ shadows moving across their sun, have no way yet of determining whether they do or could support life. But, with the ever-improving technology that makes interstellar exploration and observation possible, it may just be a matter of time before a clear view of the TRAPPIST-1 system is available.
TRAPPIST-1: To Boldly Go Where No Beer Has Gone Before…
Because I live in the sticks, I’m unable to find any Trappist brews to review. So, unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until I can find one before I can provide a review to celebrate the naming of these celestial bodies. Having had a few in the past, though, I will say that monks know how to brew beer. Trappist beer, although some varieties are quite strong-tasting, generally occupies a kind of middle ground between the tasteless, watery beer you’re likely to get from a macro-brewery (such as Molson Coors) and the sometimes overly flavourful brews you often get from a craft brewer. The balanced flavours of Trappist brews, though, are often surprisingly alcoholic: 6% ABV or over is a common rating, some in excess of 10%.
One should never find oneself in a situation where one has to drink one of these beers from the bottle. Although these brews are usually dang tasty, the enthusiastic imbiber does a disservice to the centuries-old tradition of Trappist brewing by guzzling it. Pair these beers with cheeses or meals. Don’t waste them on unappreciative house-guests.