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Spencer Trappist Ale - Spencer Brewery

Not Rated.
Spencer Trappist AleSpencer Trappist Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

176 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 176
Hads: 993
Avg: 4
pDev: 25.75%
Wants: 117
Gots: 275 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Spencer Brewery
Massachusetts, United States | website

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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 176 | Hads: 993
Photo of DoubleJ
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Joepeter is the one responsible for this; thanks! Spencer Trappist Ale is a dry, light, and complex beer which takes a little bit of sipping to appreciate. My first few sips left me scratching my head, but then I started to pull off some notes.

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

A: Glass consuming light beige head, four inches strong even with a gentle 45 degree pour into a chalice shows large, soapy pockets along the vessel walls. Stubborn retention, sloppy sporadic lace lashes on the way down. Dirty rustic orange coloring, strong carbonation presence, fine misty rise while a second pour unleased large bran flakes of yeasty matter obstructing clarity with a strong nature. Spongy head texture.

S: Aroma of fresh banana bread, followed by a light musky citrus. Lightly toasted caramel sweetness, toasted cereal grains underneath.

T: Flavor of fresh banana bread, candy sugar, and toasted caramel sweetness. Spices of orange peel, ginger with a dry herbal hop flower warming. Fruitiness of canteloupe, and wet pear are highlighted with hints of fruity citrus-apple leave on the finish.

M: Creamy mouthful, softly carbonated, smooth feel.

O: Overall smooth flavor and transition, fruity, very easy drinkability with a finely soft, eloquent belgian yeastiness. Easy A beer, does the trappist name proud stateside. 4 pack worthy.

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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 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 Mikus
3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

American Trappist... all-right, I'll bite. Poured a clear, golden amber into my tulip. 2 fingers of fluffy white head and great carbonation. Spicy, Belgian yeast notes on the aromas, with some nice dark fruit and even citrus notes shining through. Classic flavors of a Belgian pale from my admittedly limited experiences. Reminded me a bit of GI Sofie. The nice citrus notes and peppery bite on the finish had me anxiously taking the next sip. Nice clean finish with some of the lingering yeast notes fading away. A nice buy. US monks, supporting charity, delicious= multi-level winner.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz.

Pours a hazy honey golden, thick white suds for a head dissipate to a white film and retain there pretty much permanently.

Smells of sour apple, coriander, orange blossom honey, and grassy malts.

Tastes of honey and grassy malts with some citrus, coriander, banana, and white grape elements.

Medium to full body with lightly tingly carbonation.

Very nice ale, great flavor and aroma. The Trappist label brings with it an expectation of quality. While I'm not sure I would ever choose this beer over any of the other Trappists I've had up to this point, I can say that I think it earns its place next to them and does the label justice. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of JVStabile64
4.73/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I was pleasantly surprised to find this (11.2 ounce singles) at a local shop.
Poured into a 16-ounce red wine glass.

A: Deep, gold straw-yellow color. Short but active head, with a permanent film left behind on the surface. Lacing is irregular and streaky.

S: Strong, sweet, overripe banana; plum; very appealing hints of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg...clove?). Barely tart, but earthy, not citrusy.
Fairly typical Belgian Ale-type esters, but quite pronounced. Very, very nice.

T: Profoundly malty, sweet, chewy. French-Toast-like feel, overall.
Flavors of banana, prune, raisin; hints of spice warm things up. As it warms, more hot/peppery flavors seem to linger.

M: Crisp, aggressive carbonation. Refreshing, but satisfying. Slick, dry finish.

O: I really, really like this stuff. Spencer Brewery's distribution area has been growing, and I'm glad I could sample their goods.
I look forward to cellaring a few bottles...this stuff ought to age well.

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Photo of Shaw
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A new arrival in Florida. I'm excited to try the first American Trappist ale.

A beautiful amber with a bit of sediment from the bottle.

Classic Belgian aroma of spices like clove, pepper and coriander.

Like the aroma, the flavor mixes notes of pepper and coriander with earthy and malty bits. Complex, but not extreme. Though at 6.5 percent alcohol I don't agree with Spencer that it's a session brew.

Refreshing body thanks to a high carbonation level. Bubbles are a-poppin'.

A very fine beer. At more than $5 a bottle, this is a beer for a special occasion.

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Photo of stoutmasterjames
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L- golden musky hew, two cm head that thins out yet remains somewhat
S- banana and clove
T- the flavors of banana and clove hit the tongue and then quickly dissipate into a bland bitterness. This bitterness is somewhat balanced by the fruitiness. There is a subtle hint of tangy raspberry in the finish which I love
M- light/medium bodied, typical of the type

O- So, this is an American trappist ale. It doesn't quite match up to its Belgian brethren, but it is nonetheless a great beer. Very drinkable. The bitterness seems a bit out of place at first, but I adjusted to it by the time I reached the bottom of the goblet It is actually pretty refreshing.

Notes: I like what this beer is trying to do. Perhaps the monks at Spencer could produce one or two more offerings. I imagine that these guys are quite capable of hitting the bulls eye. Perhaps they should try a dubbel, or quad.... or (since this is an American monastery... the first Trappist IPA!!!)

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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 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 metter98
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy and very dark golden yellow in color, having a high amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down but consistently left a short head covering the surface.
S: Moderate to strong aromas of yeast are present in the nose along with associated notes of banana.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is very yeasty and has underlying flavors of bananas and spices.
M: It feels just about medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is an interesting Belgian Pale Ale in the the yeast profile is very reminiscent of that what you would would expect from a hefeweizen with the banana-like aromas and flavors.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of jkermitj
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is easy to focus a little too much on Belgiums and grow tired of the yeast. At least that's what I have done, unfortunately. This beer may pave my way back in. Different and very good.

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

This patersbier exceeded my expectations. For a relatively light style, it packs some fruity, yeasty goodness with a nice bit of clove. A little pricey at 20/4pk, but it's worth picking up.

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Photo of farrago
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decent initial head, very loose and wispy, settles down to a loosely arrayed islands of bubbles, tannish hue with an orange tint, for lacing you get minimal splotches with not too much stick. Very cloudy, bottle stood up for days and carefully poured still yields a great deal of particulate in the liquid, warm red glow at the core but mostly a bright orange, color of pink grapefruit pulp, nothing remarkable about the visible carbonation. The nose offers biscuit crumbs, pepper, meadow grasses and earth, clove spice, the orange to lemon citrus pierces the nostrils well and allows for more flow in the attenuated apricot, apple fruit, definitely more lingering banana notes. Full-bodied, in large part due to the fluffy expansion coming from the carbonation. Lees, whipped cream, clove and caraway seed, dried honey, less peppery here. The citrus is indistinct in terms of flavors but a large presence nonetheless. Overall, the profile is too dry for you to get a lot of banana or bubblegum but they are there. Apricot, pear, green melon fruit of moderate ambition. The finish is tactful even as that active carbonation extends the mouth feel. Pleasant to sip.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours slightly cloudy light amber with a generous off white head. It smells the part - a bit of yeast and malt in the nose. I found it enticing and enjoyable.

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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 nmann08
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle, pours a hazy golden orange color with a big full fizzy off white head. Very active carbonation, lots of bubbles and some sediment in the glass.

The smell is floral, yeast, faint fruit, a little biscuit.

The flavor is light fruity notes, yeast, biscuit, american citrus hops and belgian hop content, leaving a light bitterness. The mouthfeel is a little light, crisp, and active carbonation going down.

Overall, this is pretty tasty. Would love to drink regularly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Spencer Trappist Ale from Spencer Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 176 ratings.