Spencer: Trappist Ale (USA: Belgian Ale: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy apricot skin colour, with a cloudy body. Thin off white head.

Nose: Lemon sherbet. Funky yeast character. Popcorn. Wheat. Light earthy, bready bitterness.

Body: Bready – brown bread. Light earthy bitterness. Lemon sherbet. Peppery. Light vanilla milkshake. Milk.

Finish: Lemon sherbet. Lime touch. Earthy hop bitterness. Peppery. Yeast funk. Popcorn. Kiwi.

Conclusion: Ok, first impressions, this definitely seems to be aiming for the Orval style within the wide Trappist Beer theme. It is the lesser walked path for Trappist breweries, or even breweries in general. Will be interesting to see how it goes.

Now, I don’t mind Orval – in fact my appreciation for it has grown significantly since I first did notes on it, many a year ago – however I have not been as wild about it as many, so I may not be the best to compare the two, but this USA take seems fairly solid.

It has the yeast funk that really defines Orval, along with the mildest sour twist, slight earthy bitterness and a bready character matched with peppery notes – all that call to Orval. This is a beer that wears its influences openly on its sleeve with pride.

It has a slightly more sweet character with more sweet vanilla undertones, and slightly more fruity in the lemon and lime character that expresses itself in a sherbety fashion, so for all the Orval influence it is not just a cheap clone of that beer.

It is easy drinking, though the extra creaminess gives a weight that means it is less thirst quenching than the style would suggest. It racks in at roughly the same abv as Orval, so is playing in the same field, but has a bit more thickness without needing more booze – which, depending on what you want – easy drinking or weight, may or may not be an advantage to you.

It is decent, maybe needs to be just a tad drier in my opinion, or maybe a tad bigger in flavour if they keep the extra thickness, but it is decent. Hopefully they are still tweaking the recipe as with some work this could be one to watch out for in the future.

Background: So, the …9th I think Trappist brewery and the first American one. I first head about this in Japan, but at the time they had not turned out any beers yet. So, here we are, years later and I have beer from one of the newest Trappist breweries, courtesy of Independent Spirit (a quick google tells me we have had two more since, for a total of eleven – not many but seems a ridiculous amount considering the six I was aware of back in the early 2000s) . Whoop! Been looking forwards to giving this a try and put on a bit of Iron Maiden to go with it. Been reading Bruce Dickinson’s autobiography, which is pretty good, and it put me in the right mood for some of the old irons!