Spencer Brewery - Spencer Trappist Ale
- ABV: 6.5%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 24.5
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Snifter
- Malts: 2-Row Pilsner, Caramunich
- Hops: Nugget, Willamette
Bright, coppery-golden in hue with a cap of off-white foam, this Belgian Pale Ale was inspired by the everyday-drinking, sessionable, table beers known as "patersbier" (fathers' beer) common at brewing monasteries for consumption by the monks themselves. On the nose, you'll immediately detect the classically Belgian clove-like phenolic notes that these beers are known for, bolstered by a dollop of herbal-earthy-spicy hops. On the palate, crackery and lightly bready malt notes with a touch of mild caramel compose the core structure, but make no mistake – this is a yeast-driven brew thanks to a very active and very Belgian yeast strain. The yeast-derived herbal phenols found in the aroma translate directly to the flavor too, and they meld nicely with some earthy and spicy hop notes. Undertones of fruity esters also play a role, reminiscent of stone fruits and wisps of apple and banana. The naturally-produced carbonation from bottle-conditioning lends a refreshing sense of lift and effervescence. Try pairing with shrimp or scallops cooked in garlic butter, lamb chops with apricot jus, or a simple snack of brie and/or gouda. 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 twelve certified Trappist breweries, all of which are located in Europe with the exception of this month's featured brewery, Spencer, which opened in 2013.
So what is a "Trappist" anyway? "Trappist" is the common term for the monasteries of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, of which there are a total of twenty in the world. 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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