Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spencer Trappist Ale

With the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, it seems appropriate to post a review of a Trappist beer.  A trappist beer is one that is brewed by or under the strict supervision of monks from the Order of the Cisterians of the Strict Observance.  I have posted a few reviews of Trappist beers, including the Orval Ale, the La Trappe Quadrupel, and the Westmalle Tripel.  Each one of those reviews was propelled by a fascination and curiousity of the notion of monks brewing beer.

Until just a few years ago, trappist beers were brewed from only a handful of breweries that had been registered with the International Trappist Associaiton.  All of those breweries were located in either Belgium and the Netherlands.   As the craft movement has grown, so has Trappist beer, with new breweries in Italy and the United States.  And, it is the one in the United States -- operated by St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts -- that provides the United States with its first officially recognized Trappist beer, which is conveniently named the Spencer Trappist Ale.  

St. Joseph's Abbey is a community of Trappist monks who follow the Benedictine tradition of ora et labora (prayer and work), the monks pursue a simple life of contemplative prayer, manual labor and hospitality.  A few years ago, some of the Brothers at the monastery expressed an interest in brewing beer, and even received some training at a local craft brewery.  The brothers then toured all of the existing Trappist breweries, to see how those beers were produced.  After completing thieir learning, the monks at the Spencer abbey began procuding their own trappist ale.

The Spencer pours a nice golden color, with an even foam across the entire surface. The aroma has a variety of mild, pleasant notes, including some bread, honey and herbal tones.  The beer is a very good example of a trappist ale, with some grass and clove up front,  There are also some biscuit and caramel notes from the malts that follow, but are not as prominent in the beer. 

Overall, this is a very good beer, and, an excellent first effort by the monks at the Spencer Abbey.  This beer sells for $11.99 for a 22 ounce bottle or $19.99 for a four pack of 12 ounce bottles.  It is definitely worth a try, especially if you, like me, were looking for a beer to toast the visit of Pope Francis to the United States. 


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