Eric Asimov of the New York Times recently reported this good news in his The Pour:
Napa Valley became the first American wine region to receive protection for its name by the European Union.
Soon afterwards in an unintentional juxtaposition, someone in the beer biz, recently returned from a trip to Belgium, said this to me:
Monks' beers are jokes.
Oh no, he didn't say that ... well, yes, he did.
His point may have been that other Belgian breweries were making abbey-style beers as good - or in his opinion, better - than the monks of the seven beer-producing Trappist breweries. And, yes, there are Belgian breweries outside of those cloistered walls that do make wonderful dubbels, tripels, etc. And, yes, there are breweries outside of Belgium that do the same.
But if that were the only argument in favor of removing trademark protection from the monks, it would miss the point.
I would rather trust those good brothers to continue their good brewing traditions - and with a protected appellation - than trust businesses designed to maximize profits to do so.
One datum point? Look at InBev and see how it debased Leffe.