Arts Devo

Someone send Arts DEVO to Belgium for good beer

Trappistes Rochefort

Trappistes Rochefort

Art of beer I think we've pretty well covered everything beer that's happening around these parts in this annual Beer Issue. So, if it's OK with you, Arts DEVO is going to go abroad (oh, St. Gambrinus, please make it so! Like, for realz.) for his tipple and visit those brewing monks of the Trappist monasteries. (If you ever wanted to give the gift of beer to your local arts columnist, you could hardly do better than to leave a Trappist ale on his desk.)

In order to be officially designated as Trappist, a brewery has to be located at a monastery and feature beers brewed by monks (or under their supervision), among other stipulations. Though the numbers have grown since 2012, with four new Trappists opening since then (one each in Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and even the U.S.), there are still only 11 official Trappist-designated breweries in the world. Six in Belgium, plus one more in the Netherlands. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s Ovila series of Belgian-style ales is made in collaboration with the New Clairvaux Trappist monastery in Vina, but it's obviously not Trappist. The Ovila brews are damn fine (especially the saisons!), though, and would be equally welcome at my desk.

Of the 11, only five—Belgium's Westmalle, Trappistes Rochefort, Chimay and Orval brands and the Dutch La Trappe—are regularly available around here (Spike's, BevMo). I've tried every style sold commercially by four of those (with the Quadrupel being the only offering I've had from La Trappe), and though I really enjoyed them all, my favorites are those from Westmalle and Rochefort. I especially like the big Rochefort 10, a dark quadrupel ale with an ABV above 11 percent, and a rich, complex blend of malty, pruney, caramelized-sugar goodness. It's a splurge—usually around $8 for the roughly 11 oz. bottle—but it doesn't seem outrageous for beer shipped by monks across the world from their 400-year-old brewery.

Ghost ship!

The most sought-after Trappist offerings, however, are those of Brouwerij Westvleteren, at Saint Sixtus Abbey in Vleteren, Belgium. The monks there have been making beer since 1838, and its big quad, Westvleteren VII, is regularly voted by beer geeks as one of the best beers on the planet. But, since the beer is produced in small quantities and sold at the brewery only, I probably won't be partaking any time soon. Unless … C'mon, Gambrinus!


• Author reading: Chico/San Francisco sculptor/writer Jerry Harris will be signing and reading from his novel, Mad Black Men and Swedes, this Sunday, Oct. 11, 11:30 a.m.-3p.m., at the Wildcat Store on the Chico State campus.

• Your art in public: Chico Paper Co. is holding a contest to decide on a new piece of art to be on permanent display on the Fourth Street side of its building. Finished works must be 48-by-48 inches. Send 7-by-7-inch, 72dpi proposals to Include name, contact info and details about your medium. Deadline: Oct. 15.

• Build a ghost ship! There's going to be a Haunted Regatta in Oroville! Make your kayak or canoe super rad and scary and ride down the river, starting at Riverbend Park, on Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. (load-in at 5 p.m.), and help raise money for Santa's Li'l Helpers (a charity that gives Christmas gifts to needy kids). Entry is $20 for regatta and after party ($10 for just after party). Get tickets at River Reflections RV or A-1 Appliance in Oroville.