Handcrafted by monks, Belgium’s Trappist beers are among the finest in the world. Ryan Millar goes on a brewing pilgrimage

Beer is, to quote Benjamin Franklin, “proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” And if he was as right about that as he was about electricity, Belgium must be the happiest place on Earth. The small country’s 125 breweries produce approximately 800 different beers – although if you also count the one-off, seasonal and souvenir beers, that figure rises to more than 8,000. Clearly, Belgium takes its beer very seriously. Each unique drink is served in a branded glass, with a distinctive shape designed to coax the flavour out of the brew. In fact, Belgians’ devotion to beer borders on religious; in the case of the Trappists, it’s deeply religious.

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