Book Review: Trappist Beer Travels
This combination beer journal, history book, and travelogue grants readers rare access inside monastery walls for an in-depth look at the legendary breweries of Trappist monks. Join three American beer writers as they travel the globe, and come to appreciate each abbey with a reverence informed by the brewery directors and monks themselves. Read about the origins of the Trappist religious order and the monks’ long enduring relationship with the art of brewing. Then, journey to the 11 abbey breweries, including the expansive production facilities at Chimay, the coveted gates of Westvleteren, the ancient sun-baked walls of Tre Fontane, even America’s first Trappist brewery in Spencer, Massachusetts. Learn about their histories and beers along the way, gain helpful travel tips, and enjoy both new and historical photography and original artwork capturing the spirit of each destination.
Trappist Beer Travels; by Caroline Wallace, Sarah Wood, and Jessica Deahl, and published by Schiffer Publishing gives you exactly what the title says: a colorful travelogue of three writers exploring the reclusive world of Trappist Breweries. Each of the 11 current official Trappist were visited by the intrepid writers on what can best be described as a whirlwind tour. The writers excellently convey their excitement and wonder at getting to do what few beer fans have the opportunity to do. The book starts with a jaunt through Catholic monastic history on their way to the Trappist Order. Then each Abbey's history is detailed with a healthy mix of research, interviews, and anecdotes.
The writing flows well and keeps the stories interesting and moving along. Each chapter is the story of one abbey and brewery and intermingles the story of the abbey with the journey of the narrators. To back up the writing, the authors provide their own photographs adding to the intimacy of their journey through the hallowed grounds of 11 of the most reclusive breweries in the world and mix them in with archival photos from the Abbeys themselves.
Caroline Wallace, Sarah Wood, and Jessica Deahl are most well known for running the BitchBeer.org blog. Wallace and Wood have also authored a book about the history of the beer scene in Austin.
Both the words and photograph are very good and make for an excellent reading experience. With a recommended price of $24.99, the book would be a valuable information resource and enjoyable drinking companion as you explore the world of the Trappist breweries. Although there are a lot of great photographs, I would have liked a nice big photo section with lots of glossy images although I imagine this would have raised the cost of production and thus the final cost. The only quibble I have, and this is more a tip for other purchasers: Don't leave your book laying around where the cats can sit on it. The cloth of the cover material is very cat hair friendly! Unfortunately, you'll need a lint roller to clean it up again.
How to Purchase
Please support good beer writing. You can purchase the book directly from the authors and get an unsigned or signed copy for the same price. You can also buy it from Amazon, but the discount is very minimal. Send the extra bit towards the writers and buy it directly from them from the button below.
My copy of this book was provided by Schiffer Publishing for review. Thank you!