You don’t have to go to Belgium to find a good Trappist beer.
Spencer Brewery in Spencer, Massachusetts is the only Trappist brewery located in the United States. In the monastic tradition of a life mostly consisting of ‘prayer and work’, the beer is brewed by the monks at Saint Joseph’s Abbey to fund the daily operations of the monastery as well as charitable projects. Since first starting their brewing in 2013, the Trappist monks of Saint. Joseph’s have brewed a handful of different beers, with Spencer Trappist Ale being the most well-known.
The first thing you’ll notice when you pop the top off a Spencer Trappist Ale is the active yeast – if you don’t pour the beer into a glass quickly, you’re going to have a mess on your hands. The unpasteurized, unfiltered, live yeast keeps the brew well-carbonated while also causing the bottle to overflow in a matter of seconds after opening it.
The beer is golden in color and is so cloudy that the large number of bubbles are barely visible from more than a few inches away from the glass. The cream-colored head is fairly thick and keeps its form for quite a while before it begins to dissipate around the edges.
he monks at Saint Joseph’s Abbey went on a two-year long Belgian brew-tour to learn the best brewing techniques from their Trappist brethren.”
The aroma of the beer makes you think it’s going to be fairly sweet when it hits your palate, which is not really the case. The first scent you get is a yeast-forward sweet aroma combined with floral notes.
Despite the sweet smell, the mouth-feel is pretty dry, particularly the finish. You can taste the floral accents along with a slightly bitter, but not overpowering hop flavoring. The beer doesn’t taste alcohol-y, but it tastes stronger than the you’d expect from a 6.5% alcohol by volume beer. Without knowing the ABV beforehand you’d think it was probably closer to 8.5-9%.
The monks at Saint Joseph’s Abbey went on a two-year long Belgian brew-tour to learn the best brewing techniques from their Trappist brethren (not a bad gig, huh?). After spending time with the monks at a variety of Trappist breweries, including the Abbey of Westmalle and the Abbey of Sint Sixtus (where Westvleteren is brewed), the monks at Saint Joseph’s provided the U.S. with a Trappist brewery of its own.
Spencer’s beer is widely available in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Ohio, and parts of Michigan. It is also distributed in Belgium, France, and Spain, which is a pretty cool testament to the American monks being able to compete with centuries-old Belgian Trappists' recipes.
If you don’t find yourself in New England, Michigan, or Ohio any time soon, you can have Spencer beer shipped to you nearly anywhere in the United States