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….from the holy book of Beer by Garrett Oliver.










As some of you may know I am in the process of training to take a Cicerone Certification test sometime in the next 6-12 months.  A Cicerone is the beer equivalent of a Sommelier, and a relatively new program as far as being able to get “official” certification.  The training, however is not so official, and instead puts the onus on the trainee to learn as much about making, serving, appreciating, and tasting beer as possible.  If this sounds awesome, and like a convenient excuse to drink more great beer, you are not wrong.  Having had a nice head start with several years of bartending in my graduate school days, good friends in Michigan who own a brewpub and brewery, 8+ years of homebrewing, and of course, a well exercised liver, I am now in the final preparation phase and trying to fill in any gaps.  With the wonders of the internets, this is actually pretty easy to do these days, as all the information is pretty much out there waiting to be absorbed.  And as Subzero Brewing, we have started to assemble a nice little library, as well.  Our beer bible, if you will, is the newly available Oxford Companion to Beer, edited by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garret Oliver, which contains thousands of entries on almost any term you could think of that pertains to beer and brewing (“patersbier” is the only one I have looked up and not found so far although this type of beer is mentioned in other context and names).  So, as I reference this great book every time I run across a question I don’t know the answer too, I thought I might bring you along on my journey from time to time with readings from the good book.  Sacrilicious.


The history of beer and brewing is particularly important for a Cicerone, as beer styles have been established and recognized as a result of geography, technical innovation, and major political/historical events.  Most people who are into beer have heard of Abbey beers and Trappist beers, but may not know that they are separate categories.  An “abbey beer” is made in the style of Trappist beers, but the term Trappist “comprise(s) an ‘appelation (controlee),’ an indicator of origin….As of 2011 only seven breweries in the world are allowed to use the Trappist designation, but this was not always so.”  In essence the appelation was created in 1962 to protect the officially recognized monastaries and Cistercian monks who produce Trappist beer.  Of the 7 monastaries, 6 are in Belgium, and 1 is in Amsterdam.  Here they are:

Chimay (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont)

Rochefort (Abbaye Notre-Dame de St. Remy)

Orval (Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval)

Westmalle (Abdij der Trappisten Westmalle)

Westvleteren (St Sixtus Abdij)

Achel (St. Benedictus-Abdij)

La Trappe (Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven)

I think any good Cicerone would have all the Trappist breweries memorized, at least by their more common names (ie. the beer name), so as a visual person I am writing this post in order to create a mneumonic device for myself.  CROWWAL.  Hopefully you can pick out which is the Dutch monastery by the name.  There are probably more convenient acronyms, but I had to stick the Dutch monastery at the end to distinguish it from the others (spoiler).  So there you go…hope you learned something today.







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