The Cistercian Monks of Ridgewood, Queens

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Co-owners Joe Figliolia and Dan Berkery have opened up something very unique in Ridgewood, Queens. Even with the numerous craft beer bars and gastropubs that have opened up recently in NYC, the monk is a standout in the fairly untouched Queens enclave. As the name suggests, the monk specializes in Trappist beer and other Belgian brews, with a small selection of local craft beer. Ridgewood’s craft beer scene leaves much to be desired, so the monk is a very welcome addition to the neighborhood.

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Why focus almost exclusively on Belgian beer? Besides the fact that Belgian beer is so damn good, there aren’t many bars that know how to curate their Belgian beers properly – They don’t know the history and cultural significance of these unique beers they are serving. The monk’s mission is to celebrate Trappist and Belgian beer in a welcoming environment. As founder Joe points out, “We don’t want people to be intimidated by the beer. It’s extremely satisfying when someone is initially unfamiliar with the beer but then becomes delighted when they discover and enjoy something new and different.” Spreading the gospel of great beer is a noble cause, indeed.

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For a primer on Trappist breweries, visit here. Some of Joe’s favorite Trappist beers are the extremely rare Westvleteren 12, which he had the pleasure of drinking on two occasions, and Westmalle Tripel, another classic of the style. The bar has all of the Trappist mainstays available, including Rochefort, Orval, Achel, and La Trappe. Other solid Belgian offerings include Saison Dupont, Gulden Draak, Duvel, La Chouffe, Corsendonk, and many others.

Definitely make it out to Ridgewood to visit the monk: 68-67 Fresh Pond Road, Ridgewood, Queens (M Train to Fresh Pond Road)

Holy Beer (an Introduction to Trappist Beer)

Here’s another one from the archives.


After diving head first into the world of beer, I learned of the Catholic Church’s role in beer. Cistercian monks, who became known as Trappist monks, were influenced by St. Benedict and therefore chose a life of silence and contemplation. The history of when these monks began brewing beer is vague, but their special brews aided in spiritual reflection and also became an alternative source of income for the entrepreneurial and beer loving monks.

There are several Trappist breweries that are still around today, with world renown beer brewed by monks. To differentiate authentic Trappist beer from imitators, the International Trappist Association stamps its beer with the seal of holy authenticity – “Authentic Trappist Product.” There are many very good Abbey beers out there that are inspired by the Trappist tradition, but if it doesn’t have the Trappist seal it’s not an official Trappist beer.

Each Trappist brewery’s beer is different; however, all are warm fermented ales and all are brewed in Belgium, with the exception of one Dutch Trappist brewery.

Here are the most notable Trappist beers currently available. I’ve tried most of these beers and they all live up to their reputations. I would highly recommend Achel Blond if you enjoy “light beer.” It’s a great entry into the wonderful world of Trappist and Belgian beer.

Trappist Achel 5° Blond – Brouwerij der St. Benedictusabdij de Achelse


La Trappe Blond from Brouwerij De Koningshoeven