The third beer we are BrewViewing for our December 2016 BREWERY SPOTLIGHT is for the SPENCER BREWERY and their TRAPPIST HOLIDAY ALE (11.2 oz. capped version). The capped version of The Spencer Brewery’s Trappist Holiday Ale has some subtle differences in aroma, flavor, and finish than its 25.4 oz. corked brethren. Both are excellent ales, and should be added to your holiday beer enjoyment, without a doubt.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION FROM THE SPENCER BREWERY
Style category: Trappist Strong Ale
Mahogany in color, wholesome in body, lightly spiced, a heart-warming feast day ale from our table to yours.
OUR BREWVIEW ON SPENCER TRAPPIST HOLIDAY ALE (CAPPED VERSION)
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
9% ABV. Poured into the signature long-stemmed Spencer Trappist glass, and served at 50°F. per the abbey’s suggestion.
It poured an easy 2-finger height, dense, creamy, light tan colored head with tight bubbles. We did ensure the glass was “beer clean.”
The color is deep ruby, with an SRM value between 15-18. The rim color variation is Pale Amber, SRM value of 9. There is a bit of yeast haze due to the bottle conditioning, and as you all know, we enjoy tasting our beers with the “yeast dump.” The meniscus is slow rising. After about 10 minutes of it being poured, the head left behind even sheeted Brussels lacing on the sides of the glass, and the head height stayed a constant 1/4″ high throughout consumption time.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
You are greeted with aromas of the Spencer Trappist yeast, along with candied fruits, sweet caramel malt, brown sugar and holiday spices. The hop notes are very nuanced, this is more a malt-yeast-spice forward beer. As the beer warms, you get Trappist Brandy Fruitcake and increased bready yeast aromas.
The aromas carry over into the taste- sweet malt, Kadota Figs, plums, raisins, nice spicy phenols from the Trappist yeast, gentle black pepper in the finish. Excellent.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
It hits the tip of the tongue with its spiciness, then coats the soft palate and the sides of the mouth with a silky, almost creamy character. The aftertaste with the spices and deep caramel does linger; with a slight bit of toastiness to it.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
Washed-rind Trappist cheeses (Will Spencer ever make their own cheese one day?) Again, a Charcuterie platter with game meats and duck or goose pâté.
The flavor profile of the Holiday Ale leaves it open to a wide range of cuisines. From a hearty steak, to a holiday ham with yams or sweet potatoes, to pork and even some rich chicken dishes. For the adventurous, Mussels cooked with the Holiday Ale would lend an interesting sweet and spicy component to the brininess. Pork Tenderloin, Braised Lamb shanks, and Venison Kabobs would all pair well.
Ok… we could not go without mentioning the awesome food products from Monastery Greetings! Chocolate Whiskey Cake, Hermit cookies, Gluten-Free Hermit Bars, Trappist Rum Fruitcake, Brandy Fruitcake, Ginger Date-Nut Fruitcake.
OUR OVERALL IMPRESSION:
We were super impressed with this Holiday Ale from Spencer. They have taken time-honored Trappist traditions and fused them with American ingenuity. We are discovering that the alcohol content of the beers so far is very well hidden, which make the drinkability factor high. Enjoying the Spencer Trappist Holiday Ale evokes mind images of Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade Christmas paintings.
This is destined to become a world classic. The Holiday Ale is hearty enough to gently mull with a cinnamon stick to kick it up. It is certainly a welcome guest for your Christmas dinner! Buy some and enjoy now, and age some for 3-5 years. Seek this one out for sure- this beer certainly joins the family of world class Trappist Ales from Europe.
ADDITIONAL LINKS- DECEMBER 2016 BREWERY SPOTLIGHT FOR THE SPENCER BREWERY
BrewView author GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.
He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer! Ecclesiastes 8:15