Spencer Brewery - Monks' India Pale Ale
- ABV: 6.49%
- Bottle Size: 12-oz
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 58
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: IPA Glass or Pint Glass
- Malts: 2-Row, specialty malts
- Hops: Citra, Mosaic, Amarillo, Simcoe
Pouring a lightly hazy golden-copper color with a head of light tan foam, this IPA from Spencer looks good in the glass and smells good in the aroma department too. The olfactory impact is quite juicy and floral, with citrus, some tropical fruit flourishes, and a dose of pine. On the palate, expect a brightly hopped brew with a bold perceived bitterness carrying plenty of citrus zest and a resinous, herbal, pine character. The malt backbone is sturdy, offering touches of mild caramel and toasty crackers, but it's easily balanced by the bite of the hops and carbonation. Medium-bodied and very crisp in the finish, we found this IPA eminently drinkable and quenching on a hot summer's night. For pairing options, we're thinking spicy orange peel chicken or beef, Hunan-style shrimp or prawns, or a snack of aged cheddar cheese. Cheers!
For many of us lovers of craft beer, our first foray into the world of Belgium's amazing ales came after stumbling across one of the famous Belgian Trappist monastery beers produced by Chimay, Westmalle, Orval, Rochefort, Achel, or, less likely due to its virtual absence on these shores, Westvleteren. However, not all of the Trappist breweries are located in Belgium, and several new Trappist breweries have opened around the world in recent years. There are now about a dozen certified Trappist breweries, most of which are located in Europe; this month's featured brewery, Spencer, which opened in 2013, is one of the exceptions.
So what is a "Trappist" anyway? "Trappist" is the common term for the monasteries of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. The monks live according to the Rule of St. Benedict, which dates to the 6th century and emphasizes both prayer and work. As such, for over six decades the Trappist brothers of St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, MA have produced jams & jellies for sale to the public to support the monastery as well as their charitable assistance to the disadvantaged. Several years ago, one of the monks took an interest in brewing and trained at a local brewery. Inspired by him, more monks began to share his interest in brewing – a tradition among monastic communities dating back to the Middle Ages. For two years they gathered info and took multiple trips to visit existing Trappist breweries; starting with Westmalle and finishing at Sint Sixtus (Westvleteren), the brothers toured around Belgium learning all they could from their fellow monks, the producers of some of the greatest beers in the world.
Upon completion of their travels and learning, the monks of St. Joseph's voted overwhelmingly to launch their own Trappist brewery – America's first! Following Trappist tradition, they named their brewery after the abbey's home of Spencer, MA. In addition to traditional abbey-style beers, the monks also produce styles not typically associated with Trappist breweries, including IPA, Imperial Stout, Pilsner, and the darker "Festive Lager". For more info, visit them at spencerbrewery.com and www.spencerabbey.org.
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