The Dubbels, Tripelsn and Strong Ales that fall into this category don’t represent a single style but rather a family of beers, brewed using traditional techniques that can be traced back to a time when abbeys produced beer as a safer alternative to unreliable drinking water.
Only beer brewed under direct supervision of Trappist monks can be designated as a Trappist Ale, and there are only seven such breweries in the world: Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, Achel, Westvleteren, and La Trappe. Of these, La Trappe is the only one that exists outside of Belgium.
Abbey Ales can be thought of in two categories: those with a legitimate connection to a monastic order and those connected only by a trail of paper and royalties. Try every one you can get your hands on. Dubbels work nicely with barbeque, steak and hearty stews. Tripels are great with spicy Cajun food.