"In 2000 there were only six Trappist breweries. It was only our problem!” Jef Van Den Steen, author and founder of Belgium’s De Glazen Toren brewery, says.
He has us enraptured during a talk and tasting on his country’s Trappist traditions. He also seems to be having fun, dropping punchlines amidst facts, a mix of laughter and nods coming in response.
He's a former rock musician, politician, and brewer, but Van Den Steen is something of an expert on the past, present, and future of Trappist brewing as well. While he talks, he clutches a copy of his book, Trappist: The Magnificent Seven Beers, tightly to his chest. He’s not willing to share it, though, joking that the book is out of date. He's right, in a way: the planet is now home to 11 recognized Trappist breweries, including establishments in the U.S., Austria, and Italy.
“It’s no longer just a Belgian problem,” he says, gesturing to the room. “It’s everyone’s problem now!”