03 January 2018

The Hopping Order of St Joseph

I admit that that's a somewhat sarky remark about Trappist IPA which signs off my review of Spencer's first beer. And when I unexpectedly encountered the real thing in a beer shop in Bruges, I felt I needed to atone and bought the bottle, despite the quite spendy €5 price.

Spencer India Pale Ale is quite pale, it transpires. The Massachusetts monks have stayed true to their Belgian influences by including a fair quantity of fine yeast haze, unavoidable when pouring. It still tastes bang on like an American IPA, however, albeit quite an old fashioned one. A strong grapefruit bitterness is the opening shot, followed by the balancing toffee malt. Everything an IPA needs, right? The fruit fades quite quickly, leaving a harsh cabbagewater bitterness. The flavour is really all over the place, at once sticky sweet and acridly bitter, everything accentuated by an ABV of 7.2%. There's no finesse here, no charm. Perhaps they're going for a traditional angle but there's a reason that this sort of IPA fell out of fashion some years back.

I'm not sure whether the lesson is that Trappists shouldn't attempt to brew American IPA, or shouldn't ship it over to Belgium if they do. Either way, anywhere you buy this will have better IPAs available.

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