The second beer we are BrewViewing for our December 2016 BREWERY SPOTLIGHT is for the SPENCER BREWERY and their first TRAPPIST ALE. Much of this BrewView is taken from our original posting from March 27, 2014, and is based on the capped 11.2 oz. version.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION FROM THE SPENCER BREWERY
Style category: Patersbier / Trappist Single
Our recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier (“fathers’ beer” in Flemish) in Belgium. These sessionable beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg and contributes to the beer flavor and aroma.
OUR BREWVIEW ON SPENCER TRAPPIST ALE
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6.5 % ABV. Poured into the signature Spencer Trappist glass, and served at 40°F. per the abbey’s suggestion.
It poured an easy 2 1/2-finger height, cotton ball dense, white colored head with large and small bubbles. We did ensure the glass was “beer clean.”
The color is a medium golden-orange color, with an SRM value around 6. The rim color variation is Pale Gold, SRM value of 4. There is a bit of yeast haze due to the bottle conditioning. The meniscus is medium rising. After about 8 minutes after it being poured, the head left behind excellent Brussels lacing on the sides of the glass, and the head height stayed a constant 1/4″ high throughout consumption time. This was a great first indicator of things to come.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The immediate bouquet is banana, cloves, spicy phenols. Bready malt characteristics, citrus- lemons, oranges on the back part of the aroma. Gentle hop aromas. There is a very fresh “Belgian” yeast aroma, which of course was developed in conjunction with a select Belgian Trappist brewery. (The experienced drinker can sense which brewery that is.) The banana / clove aroma expresses itself more as the beer warms up.
Citrus fruit (lemons) spicy phenolics, bananas, cloves, pepperiness mixed with the fresh Trappist yeastiness in the forefront, bready sweet maltiness in the background.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The dryness and the body of the beer fills the entire mouth. There is a nice effervescence to it because of the bottle conditioning. Wonderful creaminess from the yeast, slight bready maltiness with a dry citrusy, hoppy finish. The beer is full bodied and hits the back of the mouth and the middle of the tongue, really waking up the palate.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
Triple cream, washed rind or blue veined cheeses. (Will Spencer ever make their own cheese one day?) Light meat sausages, salads, fruit trays consisting of melons, grapes, oranges, even peaches.
Moule en Frite, pastas with white cream sauce (Shrimp linguine comes to mind), sushi, Waterzooi with chicken, Gegratineerde witloof / Chicons au gratin, Paling in ‘t groen. Pork tenderloin with Dijon Marsala sauce, Firehouse clam bake New England style, Lobster Bisque.
Lemon angel cakes with lemon confit, lemon merengue pie, mini olive oil cakes with lemon glaze. Peach cobbler, Bananas Foster (the spicy phenols and the banana flavors of Spencer Trappist will pair nicely).
OUR OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Spencer Trappist ale is a very good first effort from the brewery. Because of the information and wisdom the abbey gained on its Belgian Trappist brewery mission, we anticipate the beer improving as time goes on. We were very impressed with it overall.
2016 UPDATE: The spicy yeast phenols have improved, and the overall flavor profile and experience is even better than it was in 2014. We were correct in our assumption that Spencer’s Single would get better as time went on… and it has! The single (and all of the Spencer portfolio of beers) are destined to become world classics.
A very refreshing Trappist ale, it is good to see a Trappist Single being made- there’s not too many of them around, let alone an American Trappist! It was worth the original effort to get our hands on this beer back in 2014.
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