Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Spencer Trappist Ale - Spencer Brewery

Not Rated.
Spencer Trappist AleSpencer Trappist Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

158 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 158
Hads: 921
Avg: 4
pDev: 10.75%
Wants: 113
Gots: 256 | 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.
View: Beers (3) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Spencer Trappist Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 158 | Hads: 921
Photo of damndirtyape
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at La Trappe Cafe, San Francisco. Served in a branded Spencer Trappist glass, which was more of a wine glass than a chalice. 25cl pour.

Appearance: Slightly hazy gold to amber. Thin white head. Plenty of thick strands of lacing.

Smell: Floral, leafy, herbal, hint of biscuity malt.

Taste: Up front herbalness and bit spicy as well. Biscuity malt middle. Mild fruity esters in the middle as well. The finish is herbal as like the start, but there is some spiciness at the finish. Coriander maybe? Maybe a hint of orange peel? Could be the hoppy finish I'm detecting is a mix of Noble hops and US citrus hops which might explain the spiciness and hint of citrus as well as the finish.

Mouthfeel: Sticky with prickly carbonation. Actually sticks to the teeth quite a bit. A bit dry in the finish despite the stickiness.

Overall / Drinkability: A solid Belgian pale ale, and in a way, an American take on the Trappist ale. Easily drinkable and I would have had another one if I had not been distracted by other goodies on the La Trappe beer menu. Went well with food (mixed green salad) and I'll have to see if I can find it again.

 1,171 characters

Photo of ommegangpbr
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm going to remember this beer, in part because the first bottle I purchased ended up breaking in the parking lot as I left the store. I was pretty reluctant to plunk down $5.99 for a single as it was. My wife was kind enough to purchase a replacement.
Now, I wouldn't pay $12 for a bottle of this beer again, but I would definitely consider $6 for a single, being very careful to check the bag for holes next time around.
On to the beer! Very authentic Belgian flavors made with local, carefully grown ingredients. Pale, yellow gold in color with a generous white head on the pour (almost lost more of this beer when removing the bottle cap so be careful). The initial scents I got from the parking lot pavement were enough to make me more curious about this beer and the scents coming from the glass do not disappoint.
Flavors are lightly bitter; fresh baked high quality sour dough bread comes to mind. I really need to do a head to head with this and Orval. It would make for a happy trouble. Everything is very well balanced. While I appreciate that this is the only beer this brewery/monastery produces I would be excited to see them putting out more offerings.

 1,170 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a hazy, vibrant, orange-gold coloring with a frothy, filmy, sparse, white surface coating of head. Aromas of banana, clove, cream, and toasted grains. Pretty simple, but impressively balanced. The flavors are roasted and rich forward, with banana bread notes, heavy clove spicing, some nutmeg notes, a sweet and tangy cream overlay, and a toasted grain backbone. Subtle yeast funk throughout, with some fruity esters, too. The body is light and dry, and remains crisp throughout due to the carbonation. Banana and spice blend in the aftertaste, with a short-lived linger, kept clean by the carbonation once again, providing a crisp, clean finish. Good beer.

 706 characters

Photo of kaiyote
4.59/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a goblet. Was a little concerned when opening the bottle produced a mild gusher, but less than 1/8 of the bottle escaped in total. I just hope the rest of the pack doesn't follow suit.

Look: Pours a beautiful hazy orange, can barely see the shadow of my hand through it. Started off with a thick, 2 finger head that has slow died back to a nice capping of foam.
Smell: Dead on for a Trappist Ale. Bananas and pepper both easily detectable.
Taste: Dead in line with the smell. Yeasty, bananas and pepper. A hint of hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste. Infinitely drinkable.
Feel: Nice carbonation, not too heavy.
Overall: Was a serious effort to get a hold of this gem where I live, but man am I glad I went to the effort (and expense). Easily one of my top 3 Trappist ales.

 810 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Massive foam but not a spew. Attractive amber brew with a fine-grained head. Delightful creamy mouthfeel, which somehow seems appropriate for a Belgian-style brew.

Warm and malty. This has a friendlier kind of yeasty flavor than the usual austere or overly sweet Saisons. Not any hop flavor to speak of. I'd call it more of a Belgian Single than a pale ale. But it's very much a Belgian creation and well worth a try.

From the 11.2 oz bottle purchased at Coit Liquors in San Francisco. Massive little bottles that ought to be refilled.

 537 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

Off white and soapy head, with little retention, slightly tan perhaps that falls to a real bubbled collar. Slightly hazy with a golden orange amber appearance with an excellent amount of middle carbonation. Not bad, slightly lifeless looking a bit but otherwise ok.

Aroma is interesting. Slightly fruity nose but with a muted caramel and honey sense and almost pepper sweetness. Some mild florailty rounds out with an almost very airy toffee and a little bit of peanut butter as well. Quite nice and unique.

Real interesting palate. Lots of controlled but very bubbly carbonation. Much of that comes in the mid palate with lots of dry wine like flavors. Finishes with a big crispness and hints of honey and brown bread. Slight hints of fruit towards tropical just a bit, with a sweet mimosa like finish, hinting with pineapple, melon and just a bit of orange.

A real interesting Belgian pale ale here, really lively too on palate feel. Not mind blowing but certainly delicious and worthy for another go!

 1,060 characters

Photo of NateF90
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle foamed vigorously when uncapped although rapidly subsided when poured into a Hill Farmstead wine glass. Two finger head resolved itself within one minute to a splotchy film. Appetizing rich-amber color and haze look great on the table and in the hand. Nose is predominantly hay and pepper, not in a bad way. Taste is correct for the style, with just a whisper of funk on the finish. Excellent balance. Feels a bit light, almost weightless on the tongue, again not a bad thing. Overall, a downright excellent beer regardless of its provenance. Thoroughly enjoyed on this and past occasions. I'd love to try it on tap sometime.

 638 characters

Photo of AgentMunky
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 33cL bottle into a Koningshoven chalice.

A: Hazy-dark honey-gold with flecks of yeast and an obnoxiously large head.

S: Loads of yeast, even from far off. Albeit kind of skunky. Up close it's almost a nice tripel; from far off it's whiffs of super-heineken.

T: Oh! Yum! It's very bready, with some fantastic yeast strain providing the bulk of the flavour. But that's not a complaint. I wonder if they borrowed this from Westmalle. It's crisp, biscuity, ever-so-lightly spicy, wonderfully deep, floral, fruity, and utterly enchanting. I'm damned impressed.

M: Smooth, crisp, and delicious.

O: I was simultaneously skeptical and excited about this beer. Even though I was ready to be bitterly harsh -- the skunk-esque nose didn't help -- I can't be. It's good. Damned good. Highly recommended, and I will be drinking again.

 840 characters

Photo of mikelavigne19
4.46/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer. Fits the style perfectly and is an excellent example of what a Trappist Ale should be.

The appearance of this beer is bright, golden with a white fluffy, styrofoam-y, tightly laced head that dissolves rather quickly while sitting in the glass undisturbed. Slight haze as with most Belgian Pale Ales.

Aromas of cloves, bananas, apricots, apple peels and the stereotypical belgian yeast comes through. I detect no strong characters of hops, as the other smells seem to overwhelm however few hops were used. Excellent, inviting smell, that beckons the drinker to consume thoughtfully.

Upfront, my initial taste is a yeasty-breadlike quality. This is quickly washed over by flavors of phenols represented by bananas, cloves and fruity yeasty apple esters. The balance of this beer is supreme. It is sweet; malty, dry finish. Fruity; apples, apricots.
The malty and fruity flavors are paired nicely with the hop schedule of this beer. The brewing process leaves the palate ready for another sip, bite of food, or a minute of reflection. Great tasting beer, not too complex, but retains layers of flavor that can be analyzed on many levels.

After smelling and tasting, this beer is left to be "felt." The mouthfeel of this particular Trappist Ale is, for lack of a better term, fun. Small champagne-like effervescence, crisp and light the way it should be. The carbonation and weight of the beer itself lends itself to enhancing this beers character. Had this been heavier, more/less carbonated, this beer would be much different. Light, crisp, tiny-bubbled dry finish.

I would and I will have this beer again. I enjoyed it very much and I like that it has a profile that can be paired with food, or just enjoyed by itself. This is a great Trappist Ale and anyone who wants to venture from say, pilsner's or IPA's and into the world of true yeast character would definitely enjoy trying this beer.

 1,921 characters

Photo of jbredbeard
4.41/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Spicy banana aroma follows into the front with a short lived bitterness at the end. Pretty good, but I was expecting something special and this one just didn't quite deliver.

 174 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy medium golden yellow in color with moderate amounts of fine active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and some faint amber + apricot highlights. The beer has a three finger tall dense foamy beige head that reduces to a large two finger tall cap in the center of the glass surrounded by a very thick film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of spicy Belgian yeast with a moderate amount of sweetness. There are moderate aromas of fruitiness (apple + pear), banana phenols, and some clove.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of pale and bready malts with a light to moderate amount of candi sugar and light fruit (apple + pear) sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of banana phenols and some hints of clove. Light to moderate flavors of spicy Belgian yeast is also present in the finish. Hints of grassy hops which imparts a touch of bitterness to the finish which does not linger for long.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Smooth with a hint of dryness in the finish.

O: Been waiting for a couple of years to get the chance to try this one... A very nice example of a Belgian Pale Ale and pretty cool that it coming from an American monastery. Enjoyable flavor that is pretty easy to drink with a well hidden alcohol.

 1,403 characters

Photo of tastybeer
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Glowing orange color with a lovely large white head that fades rather quickly too a 1/4" foam top. Aroma is soapy flowers, banana, coriander, lemon candy in the background... All the elements nicely working together. Taste is sweet, peppery spice, floral, zesty, bready grains, slightly tart, and creamy and fluffy in texture. Good stuff. I'm excited about the first US Trappist brewery!

 387 characters

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...

 1,016 characters

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.

 635 characters

Photo of wedge
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Hazy golden orange hued body beneath a towering head of airy eggshell froth. Bright aromas of Belgian yeast, doughiness, and subtle pale malts. Dried banana, flowers, nuts, cracked pepper, earthy husk, and clove. Flavor is equally delicate with fruity, spicy yeast, lemon, toast, earthy grass, and moderate phenolics. Very fluffy in the mouth and pleasantly dry. A nice, spicy, easy-drinking Belgian Ale.

 409 characters

Photo of Maxbier
4/5  rDev 0%

Hazy dark golden pour with big off white head. Yeasty, orange, funk aroma. Citrus strong slightly dank. Some spicy notes, earthy hop flavors. Great, authentic tasting.

 167 characters

Photo of MDDMD
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%

Nice golden color with a nice white head. Aroma and taste had nice belgian yeast character with orange, banana, little clove, little candy sugar and a slight funk. Easy drinking and enjoyable, but the price makes a little tough to make this much of a regular.

 259 characters

Photo of DMXLOX22
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Excited I was able to get a single of this brew donated from a friend who has a relative who is a monk at the monastery. I've been dying to have a Trappist ale in a while. Let's see how this measures up

Appearance: pours a straw-yellow, golden but has a nice orange, Amber-like hue in the middle. Leaves behind an impressive frothy, white head about 3 inches high that takes several minutes to dissipate even slightly. Inviting indeed.

Smell: instant aromas are sent out of Belgian yeast along with a somewhat hint of caramelized malts. Somewhat touch of banana possibly and maybe cloves. Malts and the Belgian yeast make an impressive combo.

Taste: first sips and what is revealed is quite good. Belgian malts, traditional Belgian yeast. Banana favors and slight cloves add to the flavor. Sweet and a bit sour at the same time makes this a well-tolerable brew. A little caramelized, but at the same time only bready. Towards the end, orange zest and some grassy malts come into play, again making this quite a complex brew in all the right ways.

Mouthfeel: crisp and very smooth. Medium body and medium carbonation. Finishes somewhat sweet and somewhat dry at the same time. Delicious.

Overall: getting this brew by pure luck was nothing but joy for me. Cracking it open was the first step to a great brew. This is a traditional Trappist ale to the fullest. Delicious, complex, and full flavored. Everything I've pretty much wanted In a Belgian ale. Like a mix of wild yeast and traditional. I would totally try again (I received two bottles) and would totally recommend to a friend (if I'm willing to share). Cheers!

 1,623 characters

Photo of Zach136
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Medium clarity orange, two finger head and excellent lacing.

Aroma: Medium + intensity orange peel and peppery yeast aroma, with bready malt character.

Flavor: Same yeast character I got on the nose, but slightly less intense. A touch of grassy hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Well carbonated, light bodied and refreshing.

Overall: I'm a fan of this beer, can scratch the belgian itch without copious amounts of refined sugar or adjuncts.

 451 characters

Photo of Pgermain12
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Lucky to have grown up next to the St Joseph Abbey as a kid. Started off eating the Jelly and now I bring home as many as these as I can when I visit central Mass. It is a very nice beer with a lil bit of smokey love on the back end.

 233 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

(AD 105F13 - poured into a Chouffe tulip)

L: sunset orange liquid with a mild haze... open, webby sponge of off-white foam - sizzles a bit like it has wild elements... bottle-conditioned (so they're doing it right), though the only indication on the bottle of this is a small icon of a bottle standing upright as their 'suggested storage'

S: familiar, unmistakable Belgian abbey ale aromas... yeasty dough, fresh-baked muffin, baked banana and/or pear, faint clove, maybe a nip of melon... whiff of old, unfinished wooden pew... fine potency

T: a bit more flavor than anticipated... straight-shooting textbook abbey ale... bit of that pencil eraser and bubblegum thing in the finish... lightly-toasted animal cracker and yeasty spice in the aftertaste

F: notable sharpness on the tip of the tongue, and on the other tastebuds in the front half of the palate... sharp attack, light to light-medium bodied, and dry, but with a subtle grainy-slick residual back-flow... very well carbonated, watch out! - plenty brap!

O: I would drink this as fresh as you can find it... it's pretty easy to tell that this is one of those bottle-conditioned beers that dries out too much, losing sweet balance... nice to see an American monastery venture into brewing, however, this beer doesn't stand out much (maybe if they used De Dolle's yeast :)...)... make a darker beer, then get back to me

 1,382 characters

Photo of Botulizard
4.71/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Beer #200. Poured into a snifter/goblet type glass.

A: Apricot colored with a large, off-white head and a large amount of lacing. Small amount of white sediment floating around, with more collected at the bottom of the glass.

S: Sweet and fruity. Peach, apricot, and slight banana notes. Very pleasant and typical of the style.

T: Very much like the smell. Candy sweet and a bit fruity. Slightly bitter on the finish and aftertaste.

M: Light and refreshing, not too heavy on the carbonation. A bit sticky on the sweetness, but not too much.

O: A very good example of the style. This beer would not be out of place among its native Belgian counterparts. Here's hoping that the brothers at Saint Joseph's have started a strong Trappist brewing tradition here in the USA.

 773 characters

Photo of gr0g
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%

Golden amber hue, hazy with a little sediment. Very nice head formation and retention, lacing the glass nicely. Yeasty phenols hit the nose first followed by fruit notes. Golden raisins and dates are evident, as is a bit of ripe banana.

Flavor profile is dry, mildly bitter, malty but subdued. The flavor components are well balanced. Relatively speaking, the malt body makes this taste more like a Biere de Garde than a Saison. Despite mentions of American hops such as Willamette and Nugget being employed, the hop character is subdued, contributing only a balancing bitterness. Mouthfeel is very pleasant; well-carbonated but not at all harsh.

This is a very solid, if unspectacular brew. The price will undoubtedly lead to hesitation (paid $18 for a 4-pack in NJ), but if it helps the Brothers succeed and expand their lineup, then it's worth it.

 852 characters

Photo of PVMT
4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clean, super-fruity, a little funky and brimming with that delicious Belgian yeast. Nose is typical Belgian, but the taste is more expressive (and really carbonated). Reminiscent flavors of Orval, only better.

 209 characters

Photo of KornWallace
4.21/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Date: 11/11/14
Location: Union Plaza Liquors
Draught/Bottle: 11.2 oz Brown Bottle
Glassware: Snifter

Appearance: Orange to Golden in color. Only lightening slightly towards its edges. Unfiltered and I do see some yeast in the bottle but none poured in my glass. It's not difficult to see through the haze though. Big pillowy carbonation head that pours at more then two fingers tall and stays. Fantastic head, any sort of jostling of the glass seems to replenish it.
Aroma: "Oh Wow!" Is my first thought. Big fruity flavors strike me from the yeast. Smells of banana, cherry, clove maybe a hint of clementine. A pretty nice sweetness as well, not quite candi sugar but something close. Bready and sweet malts worm there way in the background.
Taste:The fruit aromas become more zest like in flavor. More bitter and stronger. The sugar sweetness really balances out the fruit and along with the biscuity/bready malts make up the second phase of the beers tasting. The finish moves back to the orange again and some big yeasty flavors.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied comprised of many esters and phenols dancing on the tongue thanks to the medium high to high amount if carbonation.

Notes: Be careful when pouring the beer the carbonation is very aggressive in its initial foaming. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to try this beer. The monks did a very good job and it's great to see America's first Trappist brewery has the ability to succeed and thrive.

 1,462 characters

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