05 July 2017

Marks for Spencer

The United States has just one Trappist brewery, at St Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. In keeping with the Belgian convention of naming the beers after the abbey's location rather than its name, the range has the somewhat unmonastic-sounding moniker "Spencer", and I was able to find the one badged as Spencer Trappist Ale in the Mace on the South Circular Road.

At 6.5% ABV this is modestly strong for this kind of beer, though I guess there are kudos to be granted for not trying to simply slavishly clone what they make at Chimay or Westmalle. It's a hazy pale orange colour and smells of toffee mostly, with a little Belgian banana ester too. Sweetness is definitely the watchword when we move into the taste area: as well as runny caramel I get some fun pineapple and mango up front, with the warmer and rounder banana and warm cookies coming in behind, finishing with a light dusting of butterscotch and strong tea. It feels like it should be hot — there's a definite sense of dubbel's rich and boozy flavour profile — but it doesn't go all the way there. The result is something with all the elements of big Belgian-style ale but much more quaffable. A midweek sort of Trappist.

I hope we'll be seeing more of their beers in due course. Who could resist the lure of a Trappist IPA, lager or imperial stout?