Wednesday, April 16, 2014

16 Beer Misconceptions (Part 1 of 2)

In my travels and discussions over the years with other beer lovers I've stumbled across some perceptions that are a bit off.   They are all basically harmless, but nonetheless it doesn't hurt to point them out.  Some of the topics on the list are general, some are specific, and others quite random.

This blog takes a look at 16 common beer-related misunderstandings linked to our favorite drink.  I've split this list into two posts.  This first entry will discuss one through eight, and in two weeks I will finish off nine through 16.  

I'm sure I missed dozens.  Do you have any to add?  Feedback is always welcome!

Here we go...

1)  Fresh beer is better.  Anheuser Busch has spent millions of dollars drilling this into our heads.  Why?  Partly because for beer, being like bread, this theory is typically correct.  But mostly because their beer turns over so fast they don't need to worry about anyone buying an old Budweiser.  Imports, on the other hand, are often three months old before they get to the US.  It is a smooth way to get consumers to favor their product.

As a rule of thumb, filtered, light (in alcohol) beers are best fresh.  But many bottle conditioned, strong beers are worth laying down and will build character - some improving for several years.

2)  Fruit and honey make beer sweet.  This misconception probably stems from the fact that many fruit and/or honey beers are sweet.  But that sweetness typically comes from artificial flavoring or added sugars.  

The sugars in honey and fructose from fresh fruit are simple sugars and readily fermentable by brewer's yeast.  They tend to dry beer out, not sweeten it.  (Think of a dry Belgian Triple, typically made candy sugar added to the boiler.)  Honey and fruit may add character, but not body nor sweetness after being fermented out.

3)  Pilsner Urquell is dry hopped.  This Czech lager has a beautiful Saaz noble-hop aroma.  So it must be dry hopped, right?  (Aren't all hoppy beers...)  This is not the case.  Urquell is not even late hopped.  The final of three hop additions comes around 20 minutes before knock out.  This Czech brewery does use a technique known as "first wort hopping."  Hops are added to the thick first runnings before the wort is even boiled.  These running are more acidic, and many attribute that fresh hop flavor to this process.  (Counterintuitive, but it seems to work.)

I've had numerous pilsner clones that are dry hopped, and most of them are good, but they do not taste true to style.  And just because a beer exhibits a great hop aroma and flavor that does not necessarily mean it was dry hopped.

4)  Dark beers are "stronger" than light beers.  In my Beer 101 class I have a quiz question.  Which beer contains more alcohol: a) Miller Lite or b) Guinness Stout?  Lite is 4.3% abv, while Guinness is 4.2%.  Darkness in beer comes from highly kilned malts such as crystal, chocolate, black patent and roasted barley.  It does not take a lot of roasted barley to turn a beer quite dark.

Alcohol comes from the amount of sugar in the wort.  That sugar could be derived from light or darker malts.  Light beers can be quite strong (IPAs, Triples) and dark beers can be quite weak (Mild, standard Stout).

5)  All of Germany is Bavaria.  When most Americans think of Germany they have images of Maß swilling groups of Lederhosen-wearing men in big tents.  And this is what you would see if you were to visit Oktoberfest in Munich.  But wear your Lederhosen up north where Beck's or Wahrsteiner are brewed and you'll get laughed out of town.  

Bavaria is the undisputed beer capital of Germany.  From per capita consumption, number of breweries, festivals, etc.  Bayern is the place to be.  But west and northern Germany also have strong beer traditions (think Pilsner, not Helles), though culturally much different than the stereotypical American image of Bavaria.

6)  Jimmy Carter was a lousy president.  Well, I don't really want to get into politics here.  And trust me, I'm not going to stick up for Carter's record.  But not all four years of his presidency went to waste. In 1978 Jimmy Carter did sign a law that essentially legalized homebrewing at the federal level.  That is why many homebrew shops to this day will have a picture of Jimmy Carter with a halo over his head. 

(On a side note, even after this law passed, many states still barred or limited Homebrewing in one manor or another.  The American Homebrewers Association has lobbied for years to make homebrewing legal throughout the United States.  And last year they finally achieved their goal.  Mississippi and Alabama were the last two states to legalize homebrewing.  The Alabama law went into effect in May of 2013 and the Mississippi law went into effect in July of 2013.  Nice work AHA!)

7)  Winning the Beerdrinker of the Year competition is about how much or how fast one can drink.   Many people have asked me questions like,  "How much did you have to drink?"  For those that have been to the competition, they know chugging beer has nothing to do with the honor.  BDOTY is about passion, knowledge, sensory perception, being an ambassador, and a bit of wit.  I think that sums up the major points.  To give people an idea of what it takes to compete I refer them to my Beer Resume.  

8)  Homebrew is not as good as craft beer.   Not many of the craft brewers in the US are classically trained.  Most graduate from the homebrewer ranks and go pro.  In theory these guys would be the best of the best.  

With that said, home brewers have some advantages over the "big" guys.  Brewing six-gallon batches of beer instead of 600 allows the little guys to experiment more.  In addition, money is no object.  What is another 40% expense in ingredients, when it is still relatively cheap to brew your own, and time is typically the homebrewer's biggest investment.  

Finally, home brewers are not bound by inflexible brewery configurations.  Expensive craft systems are typically of high quality, but also may limit process flexibility.  Homebrewers can step mash, decoction mash, make their own hopbacks, etc.  There is just a lot more options from batch to batch on a home system.

I'd put the best homebrews up against the best craft beers any day.  Are there any judges out there that have worked both the AHA Nationals and the GABF?  I'd like to hear  your comments.

Well, that wraps up my first eight beer-related misconceptions.  Come back in two weeks for the second half of this column.  In the meantime enjoy a nice Maibock to celebrate the break of spring!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pro-Am Saison

GABF or bust

I was lucky enough again this year to collaborate with the Wynkoop on a GABF Pro-Am entry.  For those of you that are not aware, The Great American Beer Festival is the world's largest beer event (based on number of beers available) and takes place every fall in Denver - this year October 10-12th. ( A few years ago the GABF added a new "Pro-Am" match up. This competition allows homebrewers to partner with a craft brewery to scale up one of their BJCP-certified award-winning beers. Out of the 3,000+ beers available at the GABF, there are only 100 Pro-Am entries.  Those 100 are judged against each other for gold, silver, and bronze medals.  In addition, the winner is eligible to compete against all of the other beers at the GABF for best in show.

Last year my homebrewed Saison took first place at an American Homebrewer's Association's (AHA) sanctioned competition. After winning, I hit up Wynkoop brewmaster Andy Brown to see if he wanted to enter another Pro-Am.  Andy and I have collaborated on two of these in the past - a Dunkles in 2009, and a Belgian Quad in 2011.  Our Dunkles turned out excellent.  The Quad, on the other hand, never quite made it to the GABF.  This massive beer could never quite attenuate in time to make the September deadline.  So now, years later, it is still aging in brett infused oak barrels in the Wynkoop cellar drying out and working up more character.  (When it hits the tap, I'll let you know.)

The great yeast experiment

Belgian Saison is a broad category of beers with roots in Wallonia - the southern, French-speaking part of Belgium.  Saisons range from golden to amber, light to strong, spiced to unspiced.  But most are dry and highly carbonated.  Another characteristic I would assign to the Saison style is, like many other Belgian ales, it has a strong yeast character.  Yeast selection and how those yeast are handled often defines the finished product.

Since yeast character was so critical to the beer we were looking to produce, Andy suggested we partake in a yeast experiment to identify the perfect strain for our Pro-Am entry.  We split up scouring different yeast suppliers for various Saison, Farmhouse, Biere de Garde, and Ardennes strains.  In the end we had rounded up seven different varieties.  One Friday after work I headed to the Wynkoop as usual.  That day Andy had brewed a light wort for one of their beers, and pulled off 14 one-gallon jugs of the sweet liquid for our experiment.  After I arrived, we got together and pitched half of each strain into two jugs - one to be fermented warm, while the other cool.

Two weeks later the test batches had fermented out and it was time to sample each and seek out the starter with the best character for the type of Saison we were shooting for.  It is worth noting that temperature has a profound impact on how yeasts behave.  It changes the concentration of phenols & esters, impacts turbidity, influences color, and alters attenuation - to name a few qualities.  It definitely was a learning experience for me.  These are things I already knew, but never had the resources to attempt a yeast experiment on this scale. 

After Andy and I both sampled and took notes on each of the 14, we selected the "French Saison (S-11)" strain from one of the Wynkoop's commercial suppliers.  The warmer fermented batch was preferred by both of us.  I do not know with 100% certainty, but I think it is safe to say this strain is similar to Wyeast's 3711.  With that said, even the same single cell source can morph over time once split among suppliers.  To sum up - our yeast had been selected.

My recipe

As most of you know, I tend to be a fan of simplicity.  Some of the best beers in the world are single malt (Helles, Dunkles, etc.), and/or single hop beers (Saaz for Pilsners - as an example).  Plenty of complexity can be achieved with simplicity.  Well... this recipe runs contrary to that line of thinking.  Sometimes there is nothing wrong with brewing one of those "everything but the kitchen sink" type of beers.

My Saison was inspired partially by Karmeliet Tripel, which employs three cereal grains in the mash - barley, wheat and oats.  I also used these three grains, as well as a number of specialty malts to round out the grist.  This recipe has a little bit of everything.  Here it is (scale to your system and needs):

Grain Bill:

  • 71% Weyermann Pils
  • 8% Weyermann Wheat Malt
  • 5% Quaker Oats
  • 5% Gambrinus Light Munich
  • 4% Gambrinus Honey Malt
  • 3% Weyermann Crystal Wheat
  • 2% Weyermann CaraMunich III
  • 2% Castle Special B

Mash for 30 minutes at 122 degrees F then raise to 150 degrees F for 40 minutes.  Mash out as needed to suite your system.

Boil for 75 minutes:

  • 1st hop addition: sufficient Mt. Hood or Hallertauer to result in 15 IBU  (60 minutes)
  • 2nd hop addition: sufficient Mt. Hood or Hallertauer to result in 15 IBU  (30 minutes)

Very lightly spice with fresh crushed coriander at knockout


Ferment in the low 70s with Wyeast 3711 - French Saison.

Target gravities:

O.G. 1056
F.G. 1007 (try to really dry it out)

Tres Bon Saison (name of our beer)

So how did our Pro-Am experiment turn out?  What does it look like, smell like, how does it taste?  Not telling!  You'll have to judge for yourself.  This beer will be on tap Saturday at the GABF Pro-Am section (usually right up front near the entry), and it will also be available at the Wynkoop until supplies last.  I hope you get a chance to sample a few, and I welcome your feedback.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Birra in Italy

Last week my wife and I returned from a trip to Europe.  On this vacation we spent a majority of our time in idyllic Italy.  A visit to Italia has been on our list for over a decade now, and we finally made it happen.

I must admit the trip was not planned around beer - rather sightseeing, history, and leisure, but like all of our travels beer ended up in many of our activities.  So with that said, this blog is not based on extensive research into the Italian beer culture, rather a more passive, tourist's perspective on the scene.

In preparation for our trip I naturally started reading up on Italy, as well as solicited advice from friends that have been there before, and in one case born and raised there.  I knew that wine was the undisputed drink of choice among Italians.  Italy is located squarely in the wine-belt.  (Tuscany is better suited to growing grapes than barley or hops.)  But I had also heard from many Italy-visiting-veterans that, like other parts of the world, the craft beer movement was taking hold there too.

When in Rome...

Our first stop on this trip was Rome.  Here is some background.  We worked all day Friday, caught an evening flight to Europe (Rome via Frankfurt), and arrived on Saturday afternoon.  After checking into our B&B we took the subway to the Spanish Steps and walked down to the Trevi Fountain.  After fighting our way through all the other tourists, we headed toward Piazza Navona.  Both of us were hungry, tiered, and thirsty, so we stopped at a quaint pizzeria in a narrow alley.  We sat at a small table out front, and after two long days we finally got a chance to relax.  This place really hit the spot.  The salami pizza we ordered was excellent, and never before has a Nastro Azzurro tasted so good!  We were hot and the beer was cold and refreshing.  Weather is a major influencing factor on local styles around the world - and Italy's Mediterranean climate steers people toward beers like Peroni.

This was my first impression of Italy.  Good food, friendly service, and a gold lager that was quite satisfying.  I must admit that I expected a city where everyone would be drinking wine.  I suspected there would be times when we may feel out of place.  (My wife does not drink much alcohol at all.)  But to my pleasant surprise, I saw as many people enjoying beer as Chianti.  Almost all restaurants had something on tap (typically Peroni or Moretti), and were more than happy to serve it with their fine cuisine.  No dirty looks or anything.  A pleasant surprise. 

No Open Container?

There was another interesting thing about Italian regulations that I quickly discovered.  When purchasing a bottle at the grocery store, or at a cart on the street, the merchant typically asked if I wanted it opened.  That is right, walking around with an open container is no problem over there.  This was actually very nice.  We could continue to do more sight seeing after dinner, with a beer in hand, and not worry about being questioned by the authorities.

One minor warning when purchasing beer - just be cautious of "Doppio Malto" beers that are ubiquitous at these markets and stores.  The name conjures notions of Doppelbock (think Moretti La Rossa), but many of them, some foreign, more closely resemble malt liquor (think Colt 45) than Salvator.  Otherwise, drink away and have fun getting lost in the maze of Rome's narrow streets.

Craft Beer Scene

Caffetteria Aristocampo
One has to seek them out a bit, but there are excellent beer pubs and breweries hidden throughout the city.  You may have to pass several Trattorias serving mass produced lager to get to them, but they do exist.  My experience was that these pubs tended to cater to a younger crowd.  Some were "sports bar" themed, and some worked to attract tourists seeking out unique and specialty beers.

I admit, I spent more time at the Vatican and Colosseum in Rome than seeking out beer havens, so take my less-than-extensive-list of recommendations with a grain of salt, but there are a few places I would suggest visiting.  And the nice thing about Rome, these establishments are all walkable and not too far from the center of town. 

  • Bir & Fud ( - Note, does not open until 6:30 pm.
  • Ma Che Siete Venuit A Fa' ( "What did you come here for?"
  • Caffetteria Aristocampo - in front of the Santa Maria della Scala church on Via della Scala.  In addition to Italian staples, they serve Peroni Grand Reserve and Franziskaner Weissbier.
  • Open Baladin Roma ( - In the lively Campo de Fiori area

North to Tuscany

After three days in Rome we rented a car and drove north into Tuscany.  We stayed at a picturesque winery on a remote hillside near Siena.  This location was our base for several day trips and excursions.  The countryside of Tuscany was beautiful, carpeted by vineyards and hilltops capped with medieval towns.  From Siena we made the winding trek through the scenic Chianti region that eventually led us to Florence.  Florence is another 'must see' town in Italy - renaissance architecture, famous museums, and a cultural center of the world.  Like most other famous Italian towns, it is also packed with tourists.   So after soaking up some art, history, and spectacular views from the top of the Duomo, we headed away from the masses toward the train station to the Mostodolce brewpub. 

Mostodolce was buzzing with a young vibe and casual atmosphere.  (a few dogs too)  The bar opened onto the street making the place feel bigger than it was.  Technically it is not a brewpub.  The owners brew the beer outside of town and have the finished product trucked in for their thirsty guests.  
Mostodolce's Owner and Berwer

Their menu provides detailed descriptions of several of their beers, though watch out because many of them are seasonals and may not be available.  Pay attention to the chalkboard left of the faucets for the beers currently on tap.  There were four when I visited.

My first beer was an A.P.A.  I asked the owner what that stood for and she said, "American Pale Ale."  I guess in some parts of the world, our hoppy Pale Ales have become so famous that "America" has replaced "India" in this style's name.   This beer poured a clear gold color topped with a cream head.  On the nose it had a fresh sent of light grain (Maris Otter?) with a sturdy hop backbone of citrus and passion fruit.  New Zealand hops dominated the flavor growing stronger and more pungent as the beer warmed.  The finish was crisp and long with more hop character and just a touch of diacetyl.  Overall well balanced.  What I would call a "light" IPA, but with hops from the southern hemisphere.  What about the name - APA?  Sounds fine to me.

My second beer at Mostodolce was their flagship English Bitter, Christian, named after the brewers' son.  I really enjoyed this beer too - a rich copper color, hints of caramel, earthy hops, minerally character, and a toasty finish.  This ale had a bit of everything.  In fact it was so well rounded, after reviewing my notes, the flavor wheel I scribbled was almost a symmetric circle - with only a dent/absence in the sour radius.

I spoke with the co-owner (pictured), and she said she and her husband are doing great business and intend to expand their distribution to other establishments.  So if you are in Florence, stop and check them out.  And keep an eye out for Mostodolce beers in other establishments too.

Südtirol or Alto Adige?

After leaving Tuscany and short visits in Cinque Terre (a must see) and Venice, we headed further north toward the Austrian border.  The number of breweries in Italy is rapidly expanding, and if you look at a map, you'll notice a disproportionate number are located in the north.  This is not a coincidence.  The terrain of the Alps and cooler temperatures lend themselves to beer.  History in the region also plays a significant role.

My wife and I spent a couple of nights in Kastelruth (Castelrotto) outside of Bozen (Bolzano) soaking in the awe-inspiring scenery of the Dolomites.  This semi-autonomous region, Südtirol, known as Alto Adige in Italian, is predominantly German speaking.  Südtirol was part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War when it was annexed by Italy.  The Third Reich left this province alone due to Mussolini's cooperation during World War II.  So there you have it... to this day Austro-Bavarian people living in Italy.  Today, this region is seeking total independence.  The feeling appears to be somewhat mutual since most Italians I spoke with did not recognize this province as part of "real" Italy.  Nevertheless, Alto Adige is part of Italy.

Culturally this region has much more in common with the German-speaking north than the rest of Italy to the south.  Not surprisingly, the beer scene here bears a similarity to that of Austria and Bavaria.  Many towns have their own breweries, and the beers tend to fall into more standard styles that would be expected north of the Alps.  Styles such as Pils, Helles, Dunkles, Bockbeir and Weizen.

The Forst brewery is quite popular in the region.  In their hometown of Meran (Merano) they have a large Biergarten.  Their beer can be found allover, including Restaurant Forstbräu in Bozen.  This gastropub is across the street from Hopfen & Co. - the home of Bozner Bräu.  Around the corner from these two beer havens is the Paulaner Stuben restaurant.  As you can see there is heavy concentration of good beer in central Bozen.

My wife and I pulled up a table out front at Hopfen & Co.  Our seats offered great people watching.  There was a bakery stand on the street directly in front of us selling all sorts of fresh goods including large pretzels.  A perfect accompaniment to the great beer we were drinking.

My first round was a Bozner Bier Helles.  A Helles it was, though more specifically I would put it in the Kellerbier category.  It was a hazy light-gold color (unfiltered) with a beautiful fresh decoction mash aroma.  It had a slightly fruity character from the malt and a light, sweetish finish.  Very enjoyable.  My second round was their Dunkles, which was equally enjoyable, though I failed to take any tasting notes.  Before moving on I had to try their Weizen, served in the traditional Weißbier glass, and also tasting very traditional - true to style.
Brewhouse at Hopfen & Co (Bozner Bier)

You can find great beers in Italy

This concludes my not-so-scientific observations of the Italian beer scene.  No, Italy is not Colorado or Franconia, but few places are.  Whether it was a mass-produced light lager on a hot day, or a Hefeweizen up north, I really enjoyed my beer drinking experiences on the boot.  If you get a chance to visit Italy, make sure and indulge in fine cuisine and excellent wines.  And don't forget that good beer can also found... even in this country squarely in the wine belt.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stift Engelszell - A New Trappist Brewery!

I have always prided myself in having solid knowledge of the Trappist breweries.  So I was a bit surprised on a recent visit to the liquor store when I noticed a new beer that I had never seen beforeIt was an Austrian beer "brewed with honey."  The origin was a brewery that I had never heard of - Stift Engelszell.  Should I spend the $7 for a 1/3-liter bottle?  Probably.  And then something really caught my eye.  I noticed the Authentic Trappist Product logo.  What? 
There are only seven Trappist breweries, and none of them are anywhere near Austria.  I was a bit embarrassed that I had no idea that the beerworld's most famous and exclusive club had added a new member.  Now my "probably I should buy a bottle" turned to definitely! 

About Trappist Breweries

The Trappists are a Roman Catholic religious order comprised of both nuns and monks.  The name originated in the 17th century from La Trappe Abbey in France's Normandy province.  As a general rule they will only speak when necessary, but they are not completely silent.  They also have a reputation of being great brewers.  Monastic breweries of various religious orders have existed throughout Europe for centuries, but the Trappists are arguably the most famous.

There are a lot of beers with monks on the label.  None of these are authentic Trappist beers.  Not that there is anything wrong with them, most are superb, and some even world class.  Many are brewed for an Abbey, or have historic religious ties, but that alone does not make them Trappist.

The best way to make sure you know what you are buying is really a Trappist beer - search for the hexagonal "Authentic Trappist Product" logo.  This not only goes for beer, but for other products from monastery as well such as wine and cheese.

There are a few requirements that an authentic Trappist beer must meet:

  • The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery.
  • The beer must be brewed by the monks themselves or under their direct supervision.
  • The brewery is of secondary importance within the monastery.
  • The brewery is not intended for profit making purposes - proceeds fund living expenses, and any remaining revenue is donated to charity to help persons in need.
Prior to last year there were seven Trappist breweries.  Six in Belgium - three from the French speaking south (Orval, Chimay, and Rochefort) and three from the Flemish north (Achel, Westmalle, and Westvleteren), and one brewery across the border in the Netherlands (Koningshoeven).  I've visited Belgium several times, and have had pleasure of visiting the ruins of Orval and drinking their namesake in the pub out front.  It was truly a treat.  Some day I hope to have a chance to visit the others.

Stift Engelszell

Last year the Trappist brewery at the Abbey of Engelszell, located in Engelhartszell Austria, resumed production (ceased in 1929), met the requirements to distribute authentic Trappist ale, and became the eighth Trappist brewery.  Austria is not near Belgium, the epicenter of Trappist brewing, but there are several other monastic breweries in this country as well as neighboring Bavaria.  So Stift Engelszell joining the club should not be a major surprise.

The beer I sampled was Gregorius. categorizes this beer as an "Abt/Quadrupel" and considers it a "Belgian Strong Dark Ale."  The monks themselves call this beer "ein dunkles Trippel."  (A dark Trippel)  Their description of Gregorius is very interesting because the Trippel style is almost always pale and strong.  Gregorius is strong, though not pale.  I've never seen or heard of a "dark Trippel."

Another interesting tidbit is the use of honey in Gregorius.  Austria borders Bavaria, the home of the famous Rheinheitsgebot, which outlaws adjuncts such as honey.  So this seemed odd at first, though on the other hand, many of the Trappist cousins northeast in Belgium use candi sugar to boost alcohol and lighten the body of their beers.  So I suppose its use by this monastery should not be too shocking.

Gregorius Tasting Notes

Gregorius pours a Porteresque dark with a beige head.  It is almost opaque.  The nose is earthy with a faint roasted character.  There is also a hint of dark fruit - more noticeable as the beer warms.  The
Cody's Flavor Wheel
flavor is fairly clean with some malt sweetness that gently fades into notes of dark grains.  Full carbonation gives Gregorius a 'fluffy' mouth-feel.   There is no discernible hop character.  This 9.7% abv Trappist finished quite dry and chalky.  It is brewed with honey, which may contribute to the considerable dryness.  (Honey is readily fermentable by brewer's yeast leaving little body behind.)

My impression was that Gregorius seemed like a roasty Baltic Porter.  Not that the 'legacy' Trappist ales fit nicely into any box (though beers like Rochefort and Westvleteren have similarities), but Gregorius struck me as a bit different.  It is definitely the darkest and roastiest of any of the Trappists.  It is also the only beer in the exclusive group that is fermented with honey.  Though many of the other Trappists use candi sugar.  It may take a while to get used to, but I think Gregorius will be a fine addition to a very exclusive club.

Here Comes Benno

Stift Engelszell has also released a second beer called Benno.  I have not found this beer in the Denver area, but reviews of it exist on the Internet, so it is already generally available.  According to the Stift Engelszell website, this beer has only been in distribution since May 30th of this year.

Ruins at Orval
Benno is a 6.9% abv "Helles Dubbel."  (Light Dubbel)  To me this seems like an oxymoron.  In general Dubbels are dark beers, and Trippels are light beers.  Though, for whatever reason, Stift Engelszell has decided to buck this trend.  And just for reference, Quads are typically dark again.  Single, Dubbel, Trippel and Quads follow ascending alcoholic strength while alternating colors.

For those of you that speak German and would like to learn more about this Trappist order and their products you can visit  It is interesting to note that in addition to beer the order also sells liquor, spiked chocolates, cheese, honey, honey vinegar, and Trappistenmet (honey wine/mead).  It appears that their brewery may be young, but they have a long history in fermentation and cheese making.

Enjoy the newest and eight Trappist brewery, and let me know if and where you have been able to find Benno.