RATINGS: 668   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.52/5   EST. CALORIES: 195   ABV: 6.5%
Inspired by traditional refectory ales brewed by monks for the monks’ table, Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued Trappist ale with fruit accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, is home to a community of Trappist monks and the first American Trappist brewery. Following the Benedictine tradition of ora et labor (prayer and work), the monks pursue a simple life of contemplative prayer, a manual labor and hospitality. The brewery helps support the monks and their charitable outreach.

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Newmassres (20) - - JAN 25, 2014
Pleasantly surprised by America’s first Trappiste offering. Fruity banana notes with very lite hoppiness. Nicely carbonated, gives a reasonable white head that dissipates a little fast but hangs around long enough to let you know that it is a decent brew. Lower ABV than most so it’s not a big beer by any means. Hard to detect the alcohol. Overall very nice.

ClarkVV (6893) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - JAN 25, 2014
Batch 1 bottle released late January 2014
Uh oh, somebody forgot to date their bottles! Not really a big deal, as this is more than likely not intended for any serious aging, but nevertheless, I still think it wouldn’t hurt.
Initially frothy, off-white head recedes to cover, fairly quickly. Deep burnished copper body is lightly hazy, despite letting the beer sit cold for a week after purchase. Moderate amount of sediment left in the bottle.
Did they use Weihenstephaner yeast? No, but it sure smells a lot like it. Which isnt a bad thing. Dry bananas soaked in light vanilla extract, white pepper and lightly liquored peaches are all dulled, somewhat, by a yeasty doughiness that dosent belong. Medium strength of aroma, no alcohol noted, and just a touch of hop spiciness.
Dry and almost astringent, at first, with biscuity and bready malts teaming up with black and white pepper phenols to really dry out the palate. Some light maltiness (honey-flavored) does add a drop of sweetness on the end but the pepperiness really wins out. Light hop bitterness lingers as well (lemon grassy spiciness) while more doughiness sits heavily on the palate. High, expansive carbonation keeps the body light to medium and wateriness does persist a bit.
Lots of good things going on here, it’s not an ester bomb, the hops are very understated, it’s very well-attenuated. Don’t even mind the slight wateriness, it’s just the doughiness (and a light metallic note) from the yeast that keep the beer from being absolutely refreshing and bright. Perhaps after a few more generations, the yeast will relax.

SrSilliGose (3324) - pouring bus, New Brunswick, CANADA - JAN 24, 2014
bottle. big pearskin fruit. musty fog. toasted melon. fruity. toasty. some mango marshmellow. too much toasted candy sweetness. comes across almost like candied sugar. not bad for what it is. but not really my thing. would love a local westy blonde, if offedrd

dogfish120love (1364) - Westfield, Massachusetts, USA - JAN 24, 2014
Pours a dark medium to dark orange. The aroma is heavily banana and clove. The spice like flavor is odd even for the style.The body is a little thin.

thornecb (6095) - Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA - JAN 22, 2014
Pours deep gold into a tulip. Bright white head with medium retention recedes to skim surface. Banana and bubblegum aromas. Dry with fruity banana upfront turning to mild pepper in the medium-length finish.

Badog (1) - Worcester, USA - JAN 21, 2014 does not count
Prefer another Belgium style ale for the price...even though it is a local brewery!

msnelling09 (179) - Beverly, Massachusetts, USA - JAN 21, 2014
The beer pours a deep orange with amber highlights, like a morning sunrise. A head of gently-off-white bubbles forms above the beer, settling around a quarter of a finger’s width above the glass, and then quickly fizzling away to just a scrim. The bubbles leave a mildly thick lacing that draws its fingers up the sides of my glass, but I wish they would stick around a little longer. In body, the beer is opaque and hazy, with little to nothing coming through from the other side of the glass. There are, however, no visible particles floating around within the beer. On the nose, the beer is distinctly of Trappist origins, with the potential to also be considered a hefeweizen… Big fruity esters and phenols lather the nose in thick banana scents, like a banana smoothie; hints of pineapple can also be sensed, and touches of spicy clove and other phenols can be felt in the nostrils. Subtle bread scents do dance as ghosts in the background of the nose, but really this beer is all about the fruity esters and spicy phenols of the yeast. There does seem to be a touch of spicy booze as well, which may just be me mistaking the esters for booze, but if not then it is a little odd for the ABV. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and fruity with funky esters and spicy phenols, the middle and finish bring in a nice balancing spicy bitterness that mellows into herbal hops that are just a touch strong. Acidity also pops the mouth in the beginnings of the sip, leaving a light pucker in the lips. In flavor, the beer is again all about its yeast character. Spicy banana and pineapple smoothie molds into rich phenol clove, spice, and perhaps just a touch of Band-Aid. The finish brings out more herbal spices, mingling with herbal and grassy hops to give the beer a nice balance, though it still remains a touch too sweet, making the bitterness and spice a little harsh. The finish is a little quick for what I want it to be, but does leave a nice aftertaste of pineapple and banana esters. In the mouth, the beer feels rather odd. In body it is somewhere in the medium range, with a touch of watery thinness at its close, but in mouthfeel, the beer is thick and creamy with a touch of chewiness as well. There is a tug on the sides of the cheeks as the beer passes through the mouth, giving the beer a light grip, and the acidity certainly bites at the tongue, even after the beer has left, leaving the cheeks wet with spittle and the tongue slightly numb with spice and bitters. The mouthfeel still needs a little work in my humble opinion. Overall, I am intrigued and impressed. It is no easy task to simply step into the venerable ranks of the Trappist Breweries. Some of the highest rated beers in the world come from these breweries, but I believe Spencer has built a strong foundation to quickly catch up to its European brethren. They need to work on the head retention of the beer, for starters, and the mouthfeel and is bit off, which hurts the beers drinkability, though it does make it ideal for pairing with food. I also would like less harsh spice/bitters from the yeast and hops, and a little more of a blending of the sweet, spicy, and bitter characteristics. I wouldn’t really call this a table beer, either, as its ABV and overall body are a bit much, but it would certainly do well on a table. This beer is excellent, however, and I am just nitpicking because it is joining such an elite class of breweries. This is a fine start for the monks in Spencer, MA!

sailracer (486) - Massachusetts, USA - JAN 20, 2014
Sample at the Julio’s release tasting. This has the typical Belgian flavor with hints of bananas and cloves. There as an additional kind of musty overtone that made this unique. I like the idea of this beer, but Belgian’s aren’t really my favorite style so I have a hard time judging this against others. It was decent overall.

degraves (1) - Worcester, Massachusetts, USA - JAN 4, 2014 does not count
Got to try this early thanks to a friend at the distributor. It was a pleasant drinker. It looks similar to a tripel but the lower abv and the overall taste were different from other Trappist tripels. To me it sits somewhere between an Achel Blonde and a Westmalle Tripel, borrowing a few characteristics of each style. I look forward to having it again so I can develop a more detailed review of it.

On a side note, the brewery at St. Joseph’s is big and beautiful. The brothers are working with local farmers and the spent grain is going toward the workings of area farms. It is great that they can help maintain the Abbey and give back to the community with the funds raised from selling this beer.

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