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Spencer Trappist Ale - Spencer Brewery

Not Rated.
Spencer Trappist AleSpencer Trappist Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

158 Reviews

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Reviews: 158
Hads: 920
Avg: 4
pDev: 26%
Wants: 113
Gots: 257 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Spencer Brewery visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 12-27-2013

America's first Trappist beer.

Our recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier ("fathers' beer" in Flemish). These sessionable beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg, and contributes to the beer flavor and aroma.
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Reviews: 158 | Hads: 920
Photo of beerfishkitedog
2.46/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Pours a nice golden orange. Drinking from a tulip glass at home, from a store-purchased bottle that is months old. Straight from the refrigerator to the glass. Some sediment is apparent. Banana and clove aromas accented by a slightly yeasty and floral bouquet. Malty flavors with essences of cloves and banana. Highly carbonated. Light mouth-feel, slightly bitter. Fairly high alcohol but not boozy in taste. Clean and refreshing taste. Does not linger on the palate. I know it represents a classic Trappist style but I'm not a fan. Too bad because the monastery is close to me and the release was a big deal around here.

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Photo of Longstaff
2.91/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the first batch - semi rough poor kicked up a one finger head that dissapated shortly after being poured, left minimal lacing. Odd aroma of dryer sheets and dirt with a bready maltiness. Flavor falls short due to typical (for US brewers of Belgian styles) overly phenolic flavor with no nuance. Tastes more like a hefeweizen than belgian single. Made me feel good, so there's that at least. Value is out of whack.

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Photo of MattXT
3.02/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

11.2oz bottle, poured into a Chimay goblet (seemed appropriate). No date code is seen in the designated spot on the label, but it is from the first distribution run.

A: A small amount of sediment visible at the bottom of the bottle. Pours a translucent amber color with a vigorous, effervescent head that dissipates quickly. Active carbonation from the central nucleation point is persisting after 10+ minutes in the glass.

S: The nose is typical of Belgian yeast with hints of banana, bread, and strong clove. Not being a fan of clove, I'm a little less enthusiastic with this development, however it is fairly typical of the genre.

T: There is a good bit of malt up front, followed closely by the clove and a touch of banana that was expected. Overall the taste is fairly light, but not lacking character. The clove and a bit of nutmeg becomes more pronounced as the beer warms a bit, while I sit next to a freshly stoked fireplace.

M: Medium-Plus carbonation, but not overpowering as if you were drinking a soda/pop/coke (depending what part of the states you are from). Plainly put, the mouthfeel is quite good.

O: Overall, this comes off as a well-constructed (but poor tasting IMO) example of a beer in a genre which is, admittedly, not my favorite. The appearance and mouthfeel were plus, but taste was not enjoyable. Even though I didn't like it, I was happy to help out the 'locals' by making this purchase.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.03/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not my style. Pours a light orange with a fluffy off white that leaves behind some lace and lots of sediment.
Smell clove, banana, lemon, and some breadyness.

Taste follows the nose, clove and banana, and a little spicy ness.

Body is light, more carbonation than I prefer, a little dry, and easy drinking.

Overall this probably good for its style, but not really my thing.

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Photo of AdamF625
3.13/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- golden and orange, hazy, thin white head, and a bubbly lacing.
S- spices, yeast, orange zest
T- close to the nose with the Belgian esque spice and coriander flavors. Light malt flavors. Banana and cloves.
M- Thin body with plenty of carbonation. Bubbles roll over the tongue plesently. Very clean finish.
O- I will admit this is not my favorite style of beer. There is nothing really that stands out. A bit too dull for me.

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Photo of Dikfour
3.15/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Look Cloudy tannish orange. Tanned white head dissipates as quickly as it was poured.

Smell: Clove on top of Belgian yeast. Slight peppery baking spice.

Taste: Exactly as it smells. Baking spice is a bit more pronounced.

Feel: Kind of a boozy tingly feeling on the gums. Its fun. Starts out pretty creamy but seems to lose some body as you chew it. Medium Dry finish.

Overall: Pretty alright. Got this because I was super excited for America's first Trappist offering. Will probably revisit this from time to time but it certainly isn't anything particularly special.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle into a teku.

Apperance: Pours a somewhat murky amber color. The head is huge at three fingers high, with an off-white shade. Well, the out-of-control head is a good sign, that's for sure. It's also very fluffy, with average duration. Inconsistent splotches of lacing stick to the glass. (3.75)

Smell: Another good sign: the apple and pear notes typical of the style are nuanced within the bready nature of this beer's aroma. However, it lacks the razor-sharp balance of the Belgians: the yeasty notes have a tendency to overpower everything. I also get some candied sugar, but again, the big breadiness runs roughshod over it. (3.25)

Taste: Powerful bread notes initially wash over the palate, before a gentle flavor of sour apple appears. I also get some caramel flavors on the back end, and maybe even some banana. The flavors are decent and nicely balanced, but it's really let down by the mouthfeel (more on that later...) (3.25)

Mouthfeel: This just isn't clean or crisp enough. At first, it seems dry-finishing, but the aftertaste is heavy and sweet - and that's a no-no for the style. The effervescent carbonation is there, the mouth-filling density is there, but it still lingers on the palate too strongly. Put simply, it just isn't as effortless as it should be. (2.5)

Overall: The verdict for America's first trappist brewery is...disappointing. It's fine enough (the flavors are there), it just lacks the razor-sharp crispness I expect from a great patersbier. Still, this could be great with a few tweaks. I just know this brewery can get it right in the near future. (3)

3.16/5: Don't worry St. Joseph's Abbey, Rome wasn't built in a day

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Photo of wattoclone
3.18/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Unfiltered with a cloudy golden amber appearance. The aroma is beer with some flowery hops. Taste is disappointing for a Belgian Trappist Ale. If this was an American Pale Ale expectations would be lower, but every other Trappist ale has been perfectly balanced with no bitterness on the finish. Considering it is a American brewed beer, the hoppiness and higher ABV is not surprising. As a final insult, the bottle was only 11.2 ounces and cost $6. This is acceptable for an imported beer, but give me a break, it is brewed in Massachusetts, why not 12 ounces?

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Photo of kojevergas
3.18/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

First impression: certainly above average for a beer of its style, but disappointing for a Trappist.

Full review to follow.



BOTTLE: 33cl brown glass bottle. Branded pry-off crown cap. Has one of the classiest label designs I've ever seen. No date stamp. Neck reads: AD 198.

6.5% ABV.

Served cold into an Orval goblet. Expectations are high given the Trappist designation, but tempered given my previous impression of the beer. Reviewed live as a Trappist patersbier per Spencer's website, though their description lends itself more to that of an Enkel.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: Warning - some foam mushrooms out upon opening.

Head is off-white in colour. Occupies ~50% of the glass with its ~5cm thickness. Has a supple soft complexion and a modestly thick, foamy consistency. Not as creamy or frothy as you might expect. Leaves no lacing as it recedes. Retention is good - ~6 minutes.

BODY: Vibrant golden-copper. It does appear filtered - contrary to Spencer's claims. I see no yeast in the glass, but there's plenty of sediment floating in the bottle.

Appears well-carbonated. It's a nice looking patersbier, and I'm looking forward to trying it. But it doesn't have any unique or stand-out characteristics.

AROMA: Yeast spice is abundant in this dry aroma, which is lively and suggestive of rich nurturing vitamins and faint bread-like yeastiness. Belgian blonde malts lend it a well-tamed restrained sweetness. Spencer's bit of marketing lingo about "fruity accents" is spot-on, with supple notes of orchard pear, apple, and even faint lime obvious in the build. Hop profile is primarily floral, with a faint hefeweizen-esque banana ester on the side. Crystal malts and 2-row are suspected. I suppose I find the caraMunich malt buried in there too.

Aromatic intensity is above average. Suggests a patersbier with plenty of subtlety and balance.

No off-notes or booze are/is detectable.

TASTE/TEXTURE: A supple creamy mouthfeel emphasizes the banana ester in this brew, bringing it awkwardly in line with a hefe- or keller-weiss in terms of its yeast profile, deviating from the spiciness and biscuity Belgian character promised by the aroma. Fruity accents indeed manifest, playing well with the restrained Belgian blonde/2-row malt backbone.

It's lightly coarse and dry, which aids its depth of flavour and helps accentuate the subtle spiciness that emerges as it warms, as well as the orchard fruits. The caraMunich malt is disruptive here, injecting too much sweetness - and frankly too much "German ale" character (nebulous as that may sound). Ale esters are nicely showcased.

Light-bodied in spite of its bready leanings, with adequate heft and weight on the palate to support its flavours. That said, the mouthfeel fails to elevate the beer as a whole, and there's not quite a perfect harmony of texture and taste. Slight overcarbonation is evident.

It doesn't exceed the sum of its parts, but it's a pleasant enjoyable brew in its style (if a bit high in alcohol for a patersbier). I do like it, but it's not as balanced or cohesive as I hoped (and as the aroma might have suggested).

There're no off-notes, though the alcohol is somewhat noticeable.

Not oily, hot, boozy, astringent, gushed, rough, or scratchy on the palate.

OVERALL: Not as drinkable as any patersbier ought to be, nor as Belgian in character as a Trappist ale should. It's always nice to see more breweries attempting styles such as patersbier and/or Enkel, but this is really more of an underwhelming Belgian pale ale than a patersbier. Style devotees are better served sticking to traditional offerings like Chimay Doree, or even domestic offerings like Jester King Le Petit Prince. I love Trappist beers, but this is definitely inferior to its more storied brothers across the pond. Hopefully with more time to find their footing, Spencer will develop this into a worthwhile brew. As-is, it needs work but has some nice elements. Certainly above average, in any case.

High C+

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Photo of DJoe
3.24/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

I really wanted to like this beer, but there was nothing very distinctive about it. It poured well, with a golden hue and 3/4 inch head, but the taste tended somewhat toward that of a witbier. Mouth-feel was dry and almost chalky. Scent was a light, with hints of citrus and pepper.

Perhaps a better brew for summer or to pair with lighter foods.

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Photo of Keginator70
3.29/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I live in Mass and have been caught up in the hype of the trappist seal from a brewery which is less than two hours from my house. Grabbed a four pack the day it came in.

Average head with banana, almost Wit beer aroma. The color is reminiscent of a farmhouse ale due to the orange hue. Light in taste and mouth feel. It goes down easy, almost hard to sip and not start picking up the pace. Hints of pepper and clove up front then finishes slightly bitter to clean. Malt and hop barely there, hard to define where the balance lies.

This is my third bottle. Good, not great. Seems to me like it wants to be a little of several things. I would not turn one down but nothing really makes me want to go out of my way to have another. I'm saving the last one for a hot summer day. Maybe some time to develop will change my view, hopefully for the better.

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Photo of breakingbland
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle. The aroma was sour -- but not a good sour. The taste followed but was not quite as objectionable as the aroma. There was some funk. Not a very complex flavor profile. The body was thin and was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this beer.

I'm mystified by the high rating for this beer compared to my experience. I'll look for it again as perhaps I got a bad bottle.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.4/5  rDev -15%

Pours a one finger cream head that fades very slowly leaving traces of lace. Hazy pale amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Belgian yeast nose and flavor is yeast, cloves and bready. $2.99 for a 12oz bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.48/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Hazy pale orange. Nice white head. Medium collar.

Smell - Very yeasty. Phenolic. Belgian sweetness. Herbal.

Taste - Very phenolic. Herbal hops. Doughy malt flavor. Bitter in the back.

Mouthfeel - Overcarbonated. Yeasty. Bitter.

Overall - Well made, but nothing special.

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Photo of emerge077
3.49/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft served in a branded goblet.
Light color, somewhat hazy, thin cap of foam on top. Some sudsy lace around the edges, decent retention.

Aroma was sweet and yeasty, kind of average, nothing especially unique but within the style.
Taste was overly sweet with little bitterness to balance, bland malt and overripe fruit. Light to medium bodied with fine carbonation. Nothing complex or nuanced about this unfortunately.

Wasn't real keen on this one, and I love BPA's.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #90 (July 2014):

Dry, Yeast, Bubblegum, Crackers

An American Trappist beer that is Belgian inspired, we had hoped for something that would separate this beer from their brothers overseas. The ale has all the attributes of a Belgian Pale Ale though nothing really pops out to wow our palates. You’ll want to get this beer if you feel and need to support the Abbey though in the realm of Belgian beer this lands around the middle of the pack.

STYLE: Belgian Pale Ale | ABV: 6.5% | AVAILABILITY: Year-round

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.53/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour is hazed deep golden amber with a tight white head. Nose is Belgian yeast up front with a touch of spice and strong clove, candied sugar, and banana. Smells sweet. Taste is sweet but has a decent grain bill and notes of spicy Belgian yeast. Some clove, candied sugar is strong. Definitely sugary and a hint sweet. Lighter body with moderate carb.

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Photo of GJ40
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Purchased in MA and taken home to NC for a tasting with my wife. I had it in the fridge for a at least four weeks then let it sit on the counter for an hour or so to warm up before opening. When I did, it gushed out the top. Not a good start.

A - Golden but cloudy with chunks.

S - Belgian spice with banana and black pepper. Interesting for an American brewed beer.

T - Follows the aroma with good Belgian flavors but not quite the depth of a true Belgian.

M - A huge release of fine bubbles when it hits the tongue.

O - If not for the price, I'd say a great start for a new brewery. But at $5 for an 11.2oz bottle, why would I buy this again? Price is certainly a factor in my review; especially given it's only a bit less than Orval and a bunch more than Duvel. I'll try it again sometime down the road but I'm not in a rush to do that.

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Photo of marrisotter
3.64/5  rDev -9%
look: 1 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My neighbor and I shared this on Christmas eve after hearing such rave reviews and the unique story.

L: well, this was a huge dissapointment. Its not cheap beer, and its only served in 11.2 ounce bottles. The bottles were stored properly, chilled properly, and opened carefully and EVERY one of the four pack was a gusher bomb, easily losing over 1/4 of the bottle down the sink (well the dog licked up the first one off the floor). Not a great start.

S: since trhere was so much beer everywhere, I actually must admit the smell was dead nuts on for the style, and I was anxious to try it

T: clove. Perfect belgian yeast notes. Well brewed and esters and sweetness were paired nicely. Hazy blond color.

F: IMHO it was a tad thin. Some back sweetness would have really helped this beer shine

Overall, if the CO2 kept more beer in my belly and less beer everywhere else, this posting might have come out differently.

Perhaps the bottle was out of code.

Neat story. Worth the try. Def not a road soda...

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle purchased at AJ's Beer Warehouse in Henrietta, NY.

This one pours really difficult, with a huge, voluminous 4-5 finger head that lasts a long time. There's a good amount of lacing, too.

This smells quite yeasty, some peach and banana, and some perfumey sort of aromas.

This is a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill Belgian golden ale. I guess the fact it's a US Trappist ale is pretty cool, but this beer has been done many times. It's quite clovey and yeasty, some banana, with peach/apricot flavors, and some soapy perfume like flavors too. There is basically no hop flavor at all.

This has a very creamy and fluffy mouthfeel, and a higher level of carbonation.

Not bad, but doesn't do a whole lot to stand out, really.

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Photo of bishopdc0
3.66/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served at Novare Res in a Spencer tulip. Golden orange with a thick head. The head resolves to a wispy sticky lace. The nose is soft, spice banana all the typical Belgian trapping styles. This beer is softer than most trapping of the style, I would imagine this is due to draft vs bottle though a ltitle under carbonated. Very nice flavor flavor easily passes as a trappist, which it is but due to its American Heritage it might be critcized. Slick mouth, wheat almost chewy. Definitely malt sweet with yeast being the heavy lifter. Nice

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Photo of ricchezza
3.66/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Yeast dominates the flavor and aroma on this beer: pear, honey, clove, banana, and cider. Sweet tasting. The mouthfeel is slick up front and dry on the finish.
It is a pretty good beer overall. It is worth trying, but this beer comes with a fairly high price point which hinders my desire to buy more. In the bang-for-your-buck department a similar beer can be purchased for less money.

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Photo of Daktyls
3.67/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear golden amber color with a rocky two fingered head that recedes fairly quickly leaving a light layer across the top of the beer.

S: Aroma brings notes of the traditional Belgian yeast, though milder than other beers. Slight hints of banana, bread and mild spices are present, a slight amount of cloves and nutmeg bring up the rear.

T: Very light flavoring, starts with a light maltiness with some of that traditional Belgian notes, morphing into some light spices, I am getting some nutmeg and cloves, with a slight amount of banana on the finish.

M: Very crisp and clean, medium-light amount of carbonation and not too thick, very low viscosity.

O: Overall, delicious and easy to drink, very enjoyable.

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Photo of papat444
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to F2brewers for this one.

Pours a nice hazy orange-gold body, white foam that has some legs but the retention is average, especially when compared to others of the style. Candi spice in the flavor but minimal, very fruit forward with tangerines being prominent. Airy feel with some banana notes in the aroma. Quite good but doesn't quite reach to Chimay or Rochefort IMO.

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Photo of kbrokhoff
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Personal Drunkenness: 0%; this is my first alcoholic beverage of the day

No. of Tasting: My 5th bottle; I had finished off a 4-pack the weekend this beer hit the market

Coldness: Opened, poured and tasted within about 2 minutes out of the fridge

Pour: Low and slow throughout

Glassware: 16.6 oz. Belgian Ale glass (Tulip)

Filtering: Unfiltered; very cloudy

Coloring: A dark golden and orange hue, almost like apple juice

Head: Three quarters of a inch

Summary: Compared to the other authentic Trappist beers I've tried, this has a more subdued flavor - it is not as rich or strong as say a Rochefort or the Gregorius, but that's probably because it is not a Tripel, Quad or Strong Ale. This beer fits my stereotype of a Belgian ale, although certainly better than most I have tasted. An immediate comparison to an Allagash White comes to mind, but again, this is much better. It has a sweetness to its taste with a smell of cloves and banana? (I really don't know what cloves smell like.) It is not a strong smell, but definitely fruity I guess. The carbonation is the strongest of any Trappist beer I have imbibed (that word courtesy of my more intelligent wife). It has a great finish and leaves a very nice lingering flavor, albeit a bit dry. Overall, considering its alcohol strength, it is great for what it is. However, for what it is, the price of a 4-pack is steep. I do hope the Spencer Brewery comes out with other brews as it would be interesting to see them take on stronger styles.

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Spencer Trappist Ale from Spencer Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 158 ratings.