Spencer, America's First Trappist Ale- Now Available in Georgia
November 25, 2014
Eagle Rock Distributing has announced today that Spencer Trappist Ale will be available in Georgia beginning December 1st. Brewed by the Trappist monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA, the Spencer Brewery is one of only 10 Trappist breweries in the world, and the first in the Americas. Launched in early 2014, the beer has been well received by both connoisseurs and occasional beer drinkers.
Trappist monks follow the Benedictine counsel of ora et labora (pray and work), and for centuries have supported themselves by the work of their own hands, producing a variety products, including beer. All 10 Trappist breweries—Westmalle, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Aachel, La Trappe, Stift-Engelszell, Zundert, and Spencer—must operate in accordance with the strict rules set by the International Trappist Association, a nonprofit which ensures that the beers are brewed at the abbey, under the supervision of the monks, and that the profits provide for the needs of the monastic community and its charitable outreach. The Trappist name is a registered trademark, and beers can be identified by the hexagonal “Authentic Trappist Product” logo displayed on their labels.
Known for their complexity and richness, Trappist beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast and complex carbohydrates in the bottle. Historically, this nutrient-rich “liquid bread” was an integral part of the monks’ simple diet.
In order to arrive at the right flavor profile for their new beer, the American monks conducted research at Trappist breweries across Europe. Starting at Sint Sixtus Abbey—brewer of the Westvleteren 12, widely regarded as one of the world’s best beers—they spent time at each monastery, learning everything they could about the process, the beers and the communities that brew them.
“This certainly raises the bar for American beer culture,” says Bobo Van Mechelen, a veteran of the Belgian import business. “A lot of people will be closely scrutinizing this beer. The good news is that you’ve got Trappist monks at the helm, and they make some of the best beers in the world.”
Spencer Trappist Ale’s recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier (“fathers’ beer” in Flemish). These beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table, and are typically available only at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, sunrise-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. At 6.5% alcohol by volume, Spencer is one of the most accessible of the Trappist beers (which are typically higher in alcohol), and complements a variety of foods.
The monks recommend that the beer be served in a stemmed glass, preferably the distinctive Spencer glass (designed specifically for the beer; glasses can be ordered from the brewery website, www.spencerbrewery.com). Most of all, the monks ask that consumers drink responsibly, in the company of family and friends.
“The thing I find most interesting about this project is that this brewery will define what ‘American Trappist Beer’ is,” says Dann Paquette, brewer/president of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, Inc. and a close friend of the monks at St. Joseph’s. “From here on out, any future American Trappist brewery will be judged against what Spencer does here today.”
For the monks, the release of the beer marks both the culmination of years of hard work, and an exciting new chapter in the 189-year-old story of their abbey. “We’re just so happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to share this labor of love with the world,” says Father Isaac Keeley, director of Spencer Brewery. “We hope that by making this beer, we can both honor the centuries-old Trappist tradition, and contribute to this exciting time in American brewing history.”
For more information about Spencer Brewery, visit www.spencerbrewery.com