Tripel: a beer loved by all
Beer has been brewed in Westmalle since 1836, but it hasn’t always been commercialised. Most of the money originally came from the agricultural trappist abbey, while the beer itself remained within the walls. The Trappists of Westmalle actually saw more potential in selling wine than beer back in the early days.
Things changed when the Vandervelde Act was introduced in 1919, stipulating that no strong liquor should be sold in bars. This was decided in order to prevent alcohol abuse among workers, who at that time, all drank a lot of gin. Suddenly there emerged a gap in the market that beer brewers were only too happy to fill up.
Many of the heavy beers we know today were created in the period that followed. The monks worked hard and expanded sales to Antwerp. Before long, beer wasn’t just being delivered by truck; the abbey even had its own tramway that connected to the Antwerp-Turnhout tram line.
When Westmalle’s heaviest beer was introduced as a Tripel in 1956 with huge success, other brewers were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Triples began to crop up everywhere in Belgium. And since Westmalle’s famous Tripel was blond, the new Tripels were too. Although dark triples existed and do sometimes still exist, the 'Tripel' style became synonymous with a heavy, yeasty, fruity blond.