Take the Abbey Road, 2000
The beer brewing (and appreciating) communities have developed a new-found interest in Belgian beer over the past five years or so. This small country (about the size of New Jersey) possesses perhaps the most diverse and elaborate beer culture in the world. One of the more interesting styles of brewing that the Belgians can lay claim to are the Trappist or abbey style ales. They are strong (7-10% alcohol), full-bodied and very aromatic. These are sipping beers that you can take your time with.
Keep in mind that all Trappist Beers are abbey beers but the reverse does not apply. There are only 6 Trappist Abbeys that can call their beer by the famous moniker, 5 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands.
The Trappists Traditionally brew three styles: a Single that is for the abbeys' consumption, a Dubbel that is a rich brown ale, and a Trippel that is higher in alcohol and of a deep golden hue. One of the most renowned and widely available is Chimay. This classic offers a Dubbel, a Trippel ($5.99/750ml) and a dark, slightly sweet Grand Reserve (6.99/750ml). All of these are characterized by the champagne-like bubbles and layers of complexity that are hallmarks of this style.
One of the most encouraging aspects of these gems of brewing is the bountiful harvest that has occurred when passionate American brewers transplanted Belgian techniques and yeasts to the good old U.S.A.
A few of the more successful (in my humble opinion) are Weyerbacher Brewing out of Pennsylvania, with a Dubbel ($9.50/6pk) of exceptional quality and the only Quadruppel ($12.99/6pk) made in the States (feedback requested on this one). Ommegang Brewery out of Cooperstown, New York, who makes a Dubbel ($3.99/750ml) and Stoudt's coming from Adamstown, Pennsylvania, with a Double ($3.99/750ml), and a real, real good Tripple ($4.50/750ml) that has shown the ability to age in the bottle and improve in complexity as well as being deliciously fresh now!