The fourth beer we are BrewViewing for BREWERY OF THE MONTH – October 2015, is for ST. BERNARDUS PRIOR 8. Yet another beer that is sometimes overlooked, Prior 8 has a bit of a different flavor profile from the Pater 6.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION FROM ST. BERNARDUS
Style category: Abbey Brune / Trappist-style Dubbel
St. Bernardus Prior 8 is a traditional abbey ale brewed in the classic “Dubbel” style of Belgium’s Best Abbey Ales. It has a ruby to purple color, smooth, creamy richness of texture that is almost oily, and a malt-fruit complexity reminiscent of coconut. (8% alc. vol.)
It finds the perfect balance between sweet, bitter and malty tastes. One of the original recipes from the days of license-brewing for the Trappist monks of Westvleteren.
2006 World Beer Championships- Silver Medal
OUR BREWVIEW OF BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS PRIOR 8
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
8% ABV. We poured it at 52°F (verified with a VacuVin snap thermometer on the bottle) in the signature St. Bernardus open-mouthed goblet. We purposely poured it at this temperature to see how the aromas and flavors would express themselves. It poured a deep mahogany, deep brown color, with an SRM value around a 15-18. It easily poured a voluminous light tan colored, dense, creamy 3-finger head with tight bubbles. Rim color variation- slightly lighter than the beer body.
The meniscus is medium to slow rising- The Brussels lacework the beer leaves behind as the head collapses, is patchy, even-sheeted- (we ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). There is a very heavy cloudy haze to the beer, due to the bottle conditioning (second fermentation with yeast in the bottle). Like the Pater 6, this particular bottle had a good deal of yeast in suspension when poured into the glass. There were visible 1-2 millimeter sized chunks visible throughout the entire beer- which was not a defect. As with all the St. Bernardus beers, this particular bottle had been sitting in the MIXED SELECTION box on the shelf for at least a year under good temperature conditions. After 10 minutes, there was still a 1/8″ head; we poured the rest of the yeast into the bottle, in which the beer became super cloudy.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
Classic Abbey / Trappist Dubbel aromas- chocolatey, rasiny, toffee, deep caramel. Of course it has the signature St. Bernardus yeast bouquet- almost “butterscotch”. After 15 minutes, brown sugar aromas began to develop.
Prior 8 has a different fruitiness than the Pater 6 does. We agree with the brewery’s assertion of it having flavors of coconut- however the flavors lean more toward chocolate, raisins and deep caramel. The pepperiness is not as intense as the Pater 6, yet it is well balanced.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Medium (bordering on heavy bodied due to the yeast suspension), there is a greater creaminess in the Prior 8 versus the Pater 6. The silkiness is very smooth- it truly fills the entire mouth, and coats the back of the throat. The finish is that of melted dark Belgian chocolate mixed with heavy cream. The smooth texture of this beer makes it very easy to drink.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Rich, soft ripened cheeses such as Port Salut, St. Andre, Boursault. Camembert would be fabulous.
ENTRÈES: Dishes from t’ Hommelhof: Veal tartare, anchovy mayonaise, blue cheese and a salad with ’t Kapittel Pater vinaigrette, Slow-cooked shoulder of lamb in Duvel with ratatouille and baked pasta, Steak (le petit nerf) with shallots in Cuvée ‘t Hommelhof. (Same suggestions as the Pater 6)
DESSERTS: The classic Liege waffle, Smoutebollen, Speculoos cookies dipped in Speculoos butter, double choclate brownies in caramel frosting. Or, simply pick up some Leonidas Sumatra Café Robustas or Amandas.
Prior 8 is an excellent example of the Abbey / Trappist Dubbel style. How could it not be when the recipe originated from the days it was license-brewing for the abbey of Westvleteren?
We obtained it as part of the St. Bernardus Mixed Selection 6-pack, purchased at our local Liquor Barn. An interesting excersize would be is to do a side-by-side tasting of the Pater 6 and the Prior 8, and see what the differences are. The feel of the two beers can create different moments.
Prior 8 is one of those beers that you want to take your time with, ponder it, and sip slowly. As smooth as a silk pocket square, and as elegant.
We found this to be quite a versatile beer, as it would be excellent to cook with! Highly recommended, seek this one out for sure. We are looking to try the 750 ML corked version in the future. Next BrewView on the list- the world famous ABT 12… Santé!
St. Bernardus Prior 8 is available in the United States from D&V INTERNATIONAL.