Rochefort: 6 (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 7.5% ABV)
Visual: Light cloudy brown with overripe banana skin touches. About a centimetre of white tight bubbled froth for a head.
Nose: Raisins. Wheat. Quite crisp. Brown bread and brown sugar. Fruitcake.
Body: Raisins. Brown bread. Restrained bitterness. Frothy feel. Very smooth. Peppery. Dry and wheat. Malt drinks.
Finish: Some bitterness. Nan bread. Dry feel. light pepper. Slight funky yeast effects.
Conclusion: The restrained Rochefort, welcome back, how are you? Ok, it is only kind of restrained – it is a Rochefort after all. Actually, no, it is pretty restrained all things considered. The heavy intense fruity notes that are so telling of Rochefort have been reined in here – pushing forwards but never really pushing past the background of the beer.
It is instead marked by a quite dry, bready front with a bit of an orval feel to it, albeit with much less funky yeast effects. It is the most sessionable a totally unsessional 7.5% abv beer will get.
Now it is not as strong or as intricate as the eight or ten, but there is something very much moreish about it. The malt base is solid, but restrained, as is the bitterness. There is a lovely frothy front to the mouth feel, smooth, but soon becomes contradictory and drying towards the end into a pepperyness that is by far the longest lasting element. It really does invite another sip.
Quite a few people seen to find this a let down compared to the other two, but for a long while it was actually my favourite Rochefort. Lots of fun, very easy to drink without the boozy alcohol notes of the others. In recent years I will admit I have been taken by the weight of the aged versions of eight and ten, but even now returning to this reminds me what a charmer it is.
If you go in expecting a heavy duty Trappist ale you will be disappointed, but I think this is worth giving a try for something high quality but a bit different from the monks.
Background: You know, I have never done a note on Rochefort 8. I was convinced I had. I thought picking up the six for notes would compete the set, but no. Turns out for all the times I have drunk the eight, I never got around to noting it. Huh. Anyway, Rochefort is my second favourite of the Trappist ales, after Westvleteren. I had found this at Corks of Cotham a while back so grabbed it.