What everyone has eagerly awaited has now become fact:
the debut of the Mont des Cats Bière Trappiste/Trappist beer.
Under a blue sky, we were on the “Mont des Cats” a small hill where the Abbey has been located since its founding in 1650. Brother Bernard Marie welcomed us. His slightly trembling hands betray that today something special is going on in the otherwise peaceful Abbaye du Ste-Marie Mont des Cats, in Northern France. Known as French Flanders, this area has a rich brewing history, and has much in common with Belgium. The Belgian border is just a few kilometers away. With justifiable pride Br. Bernard, with the new beer, sat and answered all the questions that have arisen in recent weeks!
1. Is Abbaye Mont de Cats the 8th Trappist brewery?
The answer is an unconditional no. The beer does not bear the "Authentic Trappist Product" logo, though it is still named 'bière trappiste" on labels and product statements. Note that La Trappe (Abdij Koningshoeven in the Netherlands) during the time that they had lost their Authentic Trappist Product logo, still had the name "Trappist" on their labels, under the approving eye of the ITA (International Trappist Association.) There are also a lot of monastic products made in Trappist monasteries that the name "Trappist" may be used (i.e. cookies, liqueurs, wines, etc.). It is clear that the current 7 authentic Trappist breweries will continue to be only ones.
2. Is there a brewery in the Mont des Cats?
No, there is no longer a brewery there (it closed early in the last century because the monk brewer died.) There are no plans to install a brewery, and the brothers of Mont des Cats have just their abbey and no means (money) to do so.
3. Where is the beer brewed and what is the Mont des Cats?
The amber beer is brewed in the Abbey Notre Dame de Scourmont, at its Chimay brewery. That is clearly listed on the bottle label. It is a newly developed beer of 7.6% abv. The aroma reveals the background: the smell of Chimay yeast is prominent. The first sip gives hints of caramel and ends in a very dry finish. It is well-hopped, with refermentation in the bottle, that's for sure. Philippe Henroz of Bières de Chimay stresses that the completely new beer is developed in consultation with the brothers of Mont des Cats.1500 hectoliters were brewed initially. The French monks and Chimay want to see how the market will react to this new beer. It is not intended to produce any other beers under the name Mont des Cats to sell.
4. Will Abbaye du Mont des Cats ever get the logo "Authentic Trappist Product"?
For cheese, there is no problem, though the logo has not been requested. For the beer, it is another matter ... because it must be brewed inside the walls of their own monastery to be considered for the ATP logo, and there are no plans to do so.
5. Where can I taste and / or purchase?
Initially, the beer will be on the French market. Starting next week, on Thursday, June 16, it will also be available at the monastery shop and café, Auberge Mont des Cats, located opposite the abbey. We already paired the beer with pork and game meat dishes there and the result was….delicious!