The Wall Street Journal recently reported on how the current lack of religious vocation is threatening the monastery that makes one of the most beloved beers in the world
The Saint-Sixtus Abbey produces Westvleteren 12, and apparently not enough young men are signing up to be monks (who can brew the beer). I wish them well on finding more monks to come and dedicate their life to the religious location and make this great beer.
I can’t do anything about that, but what I can do here is give a little love to our local Trappist brewery at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer. As readers might know, it’s the only sanctioned Trappist brewery in the country. So that alone makes it special. But what also makes it special is that it brews great beer. It’s been a while since I mentioned Spencer brews, so let’s do that today by taking a look at two of its beers.
First up is there in the Monk’s IPA. I’m going to start by saying I love this beer, but mainly because it’s so different from most of the IPAs today. Although it pours hazy, it’s not a hazy juice bomb or a New England-style or IPA. This is definitely a straight-up old-school product. And it’s great.
Although the brew pours a bit on the hazy side, it’s not opaque. Plenty of translucent qualities here. It features a nice head and leaves a decent lacing on the glass. The aroma is mild, with just a hint of hoppiness.
The flavor is one that reminds me of old late-20th century IPAs. A nice combo of some soft tropical notes, but also a strong pine aspect. Overall the bitterness is restrained, and the can says it’s only 30 IBUs, so that fits. The malt structure is firm but light, which dovetails perfectly with the framework of the flavor profile: understated, yet tasty and inviting.
It finishes as clean as any IPA I’ve ever had, which makes a great choice for the coming summer months.
For our second Spencer beer today, I did a 180 and chose Monks’ Reserve Ale, a quadrupel that offers a slight alteration on the style.
This brew pours a gorgeous, deep mahogany/brownish-red hue with an impressive head. The aroma reveals a melange of fruit notes with maybe a hint of brown sugar and dark chocolate.
The first sips reiterate some of those aspects while also unveiling more dark fruits and a heavier-than-usual presence of spiciness. The spice facet isn’t off-putting but rather separates this beer from more traditional Belgian quads.
I think it’s a really good version of this style. I’d give it an A-minus, but only because it isn’t quite as good as what I consider to be the greatest quad in the world: Trappistes Rochefort 10. But even being mentioned on the same paragraph as that classic brew is high praise indeed.
There was a time in my younger days when I considered a religious vocation, but rock ‘n’ roll won out. I’m too old now, and besides, I am horrible at brewing. But I’ll keep all…
Read MoreBeer Nut: Tale of two Trappist brews