Through much waiting and coordinating, we are finally bringing you our very special “QUATTRO-QUAD” Blind Tasting BrewView! IMPORTANT NOTE: Belgian Beer Journal assures that our article is not slanted toward any one beer or brewer… in any way.
THE MOTIVATION BEHIND OUR BREWVIEW
On February 18, 2013, Chris Steltz of BEER GEEK NATION posted a very unique beer review; he did a blind tasting of what many consider to be the world’s top 3 Quadrupels- St. Bernardus Abt 12, Trappist Westvleteren 12, and Trappistes Rochefort 10. (Click here to view Chris’s blind tasting video review.)
We were fascinated by the review, and wanted to someday do our own similar BrewView. Fast forward 3 years…
WE OBTAIN THE NECESSARY BELGIAN BEERS
Our good friend and affiliate Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS has a special knack for surprising you with the unexpected. On June 17, 2016, “Beer Santa” Stu sent us a care package of some great beers from Belgium. One of those was the Trappist Westvleteren 12! Immediately, Chris Steltz’s 3-Quad blind tasting review came to mind. Since the St. Bernardus Abt 12 and the Trappistes Rochefort 10 are readily available in our market, our line up was set, and we could do our own similar BrewView. I wanted to do something a bit different, however. I wanted to add a fourth Belgian Quadrupel… but which one? After much thought, I decided to have B.O.M. Brewery’s Triporteur Full Moon 12 as the fourth one.
I had communicated with B.O.M. Brewery’s US importer, Authentic Beverage Management, B.O.M’s Cleveland, Ohio distributor, Cavalier Distributing, and our affiliate Belgian-Style Ales to see if they would be willing to add the B.O.M. Brewery’s beers to their online retail portfolio. Long story short, they did. And that’s how we got our hands on the Triporteur Full Moon 12.
THE REASONS WHY I CHOSE THE B.O.M. BREWERY TRIPORTEUR FULL MOON 12 QUADRUPEL AS THE FOURTH beer
I could have chosen one of many Quadrupels from Belgium (or other countries for that matter) for the fourth beer, but I chose the B.O.M. Brewery’s TRIPORTEUR FULL MOON 12 for the following 3 reasons:
REASON 1: Bert Van Hecke (B.O.M. Brewery’s brewmaster) was the brewmaster at Brouwerij St. Bernardus for 3 years, and had direct access to the recipe for brewing the world famous Abt 12. Therefore, he had full knowledge of the intricacies of making such an iconic beer. Plus, he gained insider knowledge of the relationship that Westvleteren had with the St. Bernardus brewery, that most people would not have been privy to.
REASON 2: Bert sent us samples of his beers last year, and we had the privilege of tasting them before they were available in the United States:
We did BrewViews on the TRIPORTEUR ROSIE ROSA and the TRIPORTEUR SPECIAL ROAST BELGIAN OAK VINTAGE 2013, but did not write BrewViews on the Full Moon 12 or the Wild & Funky… regrettably so. I remember the Full Moon 12 being an excellent product, and wished I had more than the one bottle. I have not had it since early 2015.
REASON 3: (And the most important) In my phone interview with Bert last year, we spoke about how he became a brewer, and his descriptions of each of the 4 beers he sent us. In his description of the Triporteur Full Moon 12, Bert said: “It’s my answer to the Westvleteren 12.” I actually had a follow up conversation with him on October 28, 2016, to clarify what he meant by that statement in our interview.
“When I said that the Triporteur Full Moon 12 was my answer to the Westvleteren 12, it was a play on words. I am not meaning to say that it is an exact copy, rather my beer was INSPIRED by the Trappist Westvleteren classic.” Bert went on to tell me that the Triporteur Full Moon 12 is made with a secret blend of BOM baked and roasted malts. “My “12” beers are mystery beers. I can tell you this: the malt blend that I am using for the Triporteur Full Moon 12 is very similar to what Westvleteren used in their 12 nearly twenty years ago.”
(NOTE: We chose not to post the interview with Bert on Belgian Beer Journal due to poor sound quality issues our phone call connection had at the time.)
THE BLIND TASTING CRITERIA
I wanted to ensure that this blind tasting was as unbiased as possible. Therefore, I laid down the following guidelines:
• Each of the 4 Belgian Quadrupels needed to be similar in brewing style, parameters, and methodology.
• Each of the 4 beers is poured into an identical, beer clean, tulip-shaped glass, with a 3-ounce sample in each one.
• Each beer will be served at the same temperature of 55° F. This will allow time for each beer to equally warm up to cellar temperature, so each one can express their aroma and flavor changes.
• Each of the 4 beers is within the same bottling stamp date range (give or take a few months).
• I will be completely blindfolded. I shall only use my sensory perception of smell and taste to guide me. I will not be influenced by the appearance of the beer – color, meniscus, etc.
• I will describe what I smell, taste, and what the mouthfeel of each beer has with the blindfold on. I will then offer my opinion on which beer I was impressed with the most, and award that beer the winner. I have 35 years of beer tasting experience, so my opinion does not come lightly. My final verdict will be truly unbiased.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The picture above shows the 4 Quadrupel with only 3 ounces poured out of each bottle. We were successful in recapping the bottles with air-tight seals to save the remaining 8 ounces in each bottle to capture secondary pictures of the Quadrupel poured in its signature glass and bottle, as seen below in the final verdict section.
The picture you see of the 3 beers in the fridge (from left to right: Trappist Westvleteren 12, B.O.M. Brewery’s Tripoteur Full Moon 12, and Trappistes Rochefort 10 is after I started taking those secondary pictures. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is not in the fridge picture; we were taking the glass pour and bottle picture of it!)
My initial blindfolded impressions were given live on video as they happened. What I did not capture a video of, is my secondary impressions of each Quadrupel as they warmed up even further, and consumed out of their signature glasses. needless to say, my opinion on one beer did change for the better. Read each of the 4 descriptions below to see which one I changed my mind on, based solely on reevaluating the aroma and taste…
THE WINNER- trappistes rochefort 10 (beer “b” in the video)
REASONS FOR MY DECISION:
The Trappistes Rochefort 10 has and will always be one of our favorite Belgian Quadrupels, no question.
The reason why I chose it as my favorite in this blind tasting was because it expressed a more intense, rummy, Trappist yeast bouquet than the other three did. Its sumptuous aromas were the most unique of the four quads.
Flavorwise, It expressed great notes of deep dark rum, raisins, and bitter chocolate. Plus, it’s creamy texture and mouthfeel made Trappistes Rochefort 10 (I feel) the most drinkable of the four. As I enjoyed it in its proper Trappist chalice, those aromas and flavors just got better!
SECOND PLACE (BEER “D” IN THE VIDEO), THIRD PLACE DURING THE FULL GLASS POUR EXPERIENCE AFTERWARD
Initially, I chose Trappist Westvleteren 12 (beer “D” in the video) as my second favorite. This was of course, based on a 3-ounce pour. As I took the remaining 8 ounces of each beer and captured the images of each one in a glass pour / bottle image, I had to change my verdict.
As I have expressed before, I dislike trying beers (sampling / comparing) with only 2-3 ounce pours in a glass. I like how great beers express their aromas and flavors in a full glass pour, as the beer warms up. You will also note, that Chris Steltz of Beer Geek Nation had at least (what looked like) 6 – 8 ounces of each beer in each of the 3 glasses he used in his video. I did not want to initially do that for a few reasons: The first being that in most competitions, a 2-3 ounce pour is analyzed, and I wanted to stay true to competition guidelines. The second being, I wanted to have pictures of the beer in its signature glass next to the bottle. Thus, I changed my opinion of the Trappist Westvleteren 12 being my second favorite to my third favorite after enjoying it in its proper Trappist chalice in a full glass pour.
THIRD PLACE (BEER “A” IN THE VIDEO), SECOND PLACE DURING THE FULL GLASS POUR EXPERIENCE AFTERWARD
My original third favorite from the video was B.O.M. Brewery’s Full Moon 12. However, as I described above, when I sampled it again in a full glass pour, and allowed the beer to warm up and breathe, I changed my verdict and chose it as my second favorite of the Quattro-Quad Blind Tasting.
I found the balance between fruitiness, spiciness, and that ever-so-gentle hop aroma to express itself slightly better than the Trappist Westvleteren 12.
So, in the long run, B.O.M. Brewery’s Full Moon 12 edged out Westvleteren, but just ever so slightly! Unfortunately, I did not have a signature Triporteur glass for the picture, thus we captured it with a similar styled open-mouthed chalice. (Bert- this is my formal request for an official Triporteur glass!) 🙂
FOURTH PLACE (BEER “C” IN THE VIDEO) AND DURING THE FULL GLASS POUR EXPERIENCE AFTERWARD
My fourth place choice was the classic, St. Bernardus Abt 12; my verdict was that in the video, and remained the same after, while enjoying it in its proper wide-mouthed chalice.
As it warmed up, it expressed more fruity than spicy notes, with a very slight bit more of a hop aroma. The signature bready St. Bernardus yeast aroma expressed itself more as well.
There is a reason why St. Bernardus Abt 12 is considered one of the best Quadrupels in the world; it is brewed at world class level using the highest quality ingredients. It is another one of our consistent, go-to beers due to its year-round availability.
Again, my decision is based on my 35 years of beer tasting experience. I haven’t tasted the Westvleteren 12 for nearly 20 years. It’s also been a short while since I enjoyed the Trappistes Rochefort 10, and as I mentioned above, it’s been over a year since I tasted the Triporteur Full Moon 12. The only beer I have has with some regularity is the St. Bernardus Abt 12. You may or may not disagree with my final and secondary (revised) verdicts. I welcome any comments of feedback you may have on this blind tasting. If you so decide, we ask that you keep it G rated!
QUATTRO-QUAD BREWVIEW BLIND TASTING VIDEO
This is the video we recorded live of me doing the Blind Tasting BrewView. This was a fun adventure… we hope you enjoy watching it!
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