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Spencer Trappist Ale | The Spencer Brewery

very good
196 Reviews
Read the review
Spencer Trappist AleSpencer Trappist Ale

Brewed by:
The Spencer Brewery
Massachusetts, United States | website

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Todd on 12-27-2013

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Reviews: 196 | Ratings: 1,069
Photo of illpass78
3.77/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a stemmed glass.

Appearance: This was kind of shaken up, but it poured a cloudy gold with a big white head.

Aroma: Fruit and candied sugars. Some peach, maybe a little tangerine. Some funk.

Taste: More fruit and candied sugars. Not complaining. Also has some yeastiness and some nice spicy quality. Pretty classic Belgian single altogether.

Mouthfeel: Pretty standard depth.

Overall: Glad to finally grab one of these. More or less a standard BPA. Enjoyable.

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Photo of philbe311
3.89/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - A standard pour produces a rich, creamy and velvety light khaki colored froth that displays respectable retention... It never really turns into lacing, rather it just settles a little... The color is a murky golden raisin / amber... Still with just a few carbonation bubbles sticking to the sides of the glass...

S - A sweet fruit forward aroma, presumably from the yeast strain... Mango... Peach... Nectarine... Golden raisins... Musky grapes... There isn't much else to the aroma, but that's okay as it is remarkably pleasant and enticing as is...

T - The fruity sweetness alluded to by the nose is missing in action... It is replaced by more traditional Belgian Pale Ale traits... Subtle yeast notes... A strong wheat presence... A light spice component...

M - Lush but dry from the get go... Smooth with little to no carbonation... No frills... Simple and straight-forward... Repeatable sip after sip...

D - Not a bad Belgian Pale Ale by any means... Actually it proves to be rather refreshing... My affection for this offering grew more with each and every sip until the end when I really wish I had another bottle... All in all it proves to be a bit more than the sum of its parts... I wasn't sure what to expect from the American Trappist brewery, but I was pleasantly surprised and can recommended with a guilt free conscious and will enjoy again in the future when presented with the opportunity...

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear and golden amber (SRM 5). Gem clear while yeast remains in the bottle. A modest, short lived, fine white head and lace in a Westvleteren Chalice. Once yeast is added, the beer turns cloudy orange.

Strong fruit aromas up front include ripe pear. The middle is dominated by light caramel with simple spicy yeast. Generally speaking, the aroma is delicate and elegant.

Without the yeast, the flavor is crisp and fruity with an earthy sweetness. The earthiness and sweetness are more pronounced once the yeast is added. Yeast also adds banana bread and light spices. The finish is light and lingering.

Palate is dominated by explosive, fine carbonation. The body is medium with light alcohol and a satin texture. Soft astringency and crispness were also noticed. Yeast smooth's out the palate.

This is a relaxing beer for a warm, dry day.

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

Spencer Brewery "Spencer Trappist Ale"
12 oz. brown glass bottle, production coded but without freshness dating
$1.99 @ Wegmans, King of Prussia, PA

Being a bottle-conditioned beer, the appearance of the Spencer Trappist Ale depends upon how long the bottle's sat undisturbed, and how carefully you pour it. Additionally, the flavor will change a bit depending upon how much yeast you add. I personally prefer the yeast, so I allowed quite a bit of yeast to be transferred over, and it's a cloudy deep-golden orange in color beneath a full head of off-white froth. Except for the color of the head it looks very much like a here-weizen, and the head retention and lacing are similar as well. Steady streams of fine bubbles can be seen rising in great numbers, adding to the head, and keeping it consistently full. Long streaks and smears of sticky lacing are left with each sip, and overall it's an impressive looking glass of beer.

The aroma expresses clove, black pepper, a general "spiciness" that might actually be coming from coriander, sugar, banana, and wheat. As it warms some herbal hops become apparent.

The first sip reveals its carbonation with a gentle bristle across the tongue. It's not quite at here-weizen levels, but it's close... probably 2.6 volumes CO2/liter. The body is medium with a bit of a dextrinous edge that makes it appear slightly fuller than it actually is.

In the flavor it's sweet upfront with rock candy, clove/bubblegum, and a hint of banana. Some earthiness and herbal and leafy hops appear across the middle and into the swallow. There's a fair amount of bitterness to it, but its also got a fair amount of malty sweetness, and the peppery spice combines with the carbonic acid of the CO2 to add a little zest and help balance the sweet malt. It finishes surprisingly dry with a spritz of alcohol that helps to strip away the maltiness, and notes of herbs, a "woody spiciness" that flickers with coriander and pepper, and some background crushed granite.

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

Tasted in a 8 oz snifter from draught at Firkin on December 18, 2015. Look is golden-hued, thick white head and lingering lacing. Smell is fruit. Taste is fruit and some bitter hop notes. Feel is full in body and dry in the finish.

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

Clear golden colored ale with a tall white colored head.

Smells strongly of apples and coriander. Scents of ash and cinnamon.

Starts out semi-sweet and a little spicy with an apple butter taste. Medium level of bitterness. Fair amount of wood taste and some pepper with the coriander.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall a decent if overpriced ale.

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Photo of polloenfuego
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 ml format bottled in May of 2014.

Spencer Trappist Ale looks nice coming out of the bottle, it pours a lovely golden color with a thumb's worth of head that breaks down to a fine white wisp of foam on the top of the beer. The smell is typical of a Belgian ale, yeasts, malts, fruity and cloves. Taste carries the nose through, but some of the strength of the yeast and fruits seem muted and the finish is a bit more bitter than expected. The feel is medium with a higher amount of carbonation.

All in all, not bad, I think that as this recipe matures this will become a very nice beer. I would be interested to read a Belgian review or two to see their thoughts.

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

330 ml bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark gold, mostly clear, with a quickly dissipating head, not much lacing. Last bottle of a four pack and it gushed a little. Think one of the others did, too. Smell is strongly Belgian yeast, also light malt, straw, grain, some black pepper on the pour. Taste is also yeast forward, a little more malt than the nose, more wheat or grain, a little caramel, slight lemon, a little earthy hop bitterness. Dry, crisp, good body, slightly harsh for the style.

This is a pretty traditional Belgian pale- which is a good thing to say for an American Trappist brew, enjoyable and easy drinking. Worth a try.

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

Wow. Bought this beer on a whim while it Mass for a trip. Pours a beautiful amber with an amazing white creamy head. Puree into a snifter. Throws some sediment (does not bother me). Smell is yeasty and wheaty. Taste is the same but is one of the best Belgian Pale Ales I have ever had! Feel is thin with low carbonation. Amen!

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Photo of wordemupg
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle poured into tulip 14/11/15

A murky orange liquid, chunks of yeast everywhere, two fingers of loose foam had decent retention leaving a couple partial rings

S orange marmalade and soggy cornflakes, some caramel and spice I can't place with some over ripe banana

T plenty of malt, I'm still getting cornflakes but a slight improvement on the nose, over ripe bananas replaced with dried chips

M medium weight, gets a little foamy after a second or two, sourdough and spice on the finish

O OK brew but I was expecting more form a Trappist brewery American or not I just couldn't shake the cornflakes

I'm stoked to have this brew pop up in the Alberta market but its a little disappointing considering its the first Trappist brew from my side of the pond

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Photo of biboergosum
3.84/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle - it was indeed a nice surprise to finally see this North American Trappist brewery's product become available out here in the west.

This beer pours, well, first off, she's (can I use that pronoun?) a gusher, foaming up out of the bottle all over the table, and necessitating some quick clean up - only after that do I notice the hazy medium copper amber colour, with minor floatie action, and a surprising single finger of puffy, very loosely foamy, and mostly just bubbly dirty white head, which leaves some eroding limestone cave lace around the glass as it quickly recedes.

It smells of bready and doughy caramel malt, warm apple, pear, and banana fruit, a heady dose of musty yeast, some mild earthy spiciness, and plain leafy, weedy, and slightly herbal hop bitters. The taste is more grainy, lightly bready pale and caramel malt, still prominent banana, apple, and cooked pear fruity notes, a reduced gritty yeastiness, ethereal clove and white pepper dust spice, and a soft earthy, leafy, and somewhat floral hoppiness.

The carbonation is actually quite low and unobtrusive in its gentle frothiness, the body a decent middleweight, and mostly smooth, the fruitiness overriding the yeast acerbity, it would seem. It finishes trending sweet, but in a well-moderated sense, like it's totally at peace with itself and its surroundings.

Well, I gotta say, not a bad first foray into the venerable world of Trappist ale by a New World, um, order. Nice and fruity, the alcohol pleasantly obfuscated, and more or less easy to drink - looking forward to bigger and better things from these particular 'bros'.

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Photo of stephens101
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Have been itching to try one of these since hearing of the endeavor a while back.

A whiff of booze escapes as I pop the cork. Color is a bright, reddish-orange. The tan froth dissipates calmly.

Banana, melon and grain to the nose.

Tastes of light fruits, spice a hint of vanilla and a pinch of taffy.

Medium and very clean all the way through.

Nice go of it for these fellows, and I always like supporting a good cause.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle stamped AD 161 F21:
Pours a amber orange, with a clarity that allows light through, but blurs anything behind it quite well. Carbonation Canberra seen supplying a nice off-white pillow atop the beer. Lacing is decent. I let the bottom of the bottle add a few floaties on my pour.

Nose is rather neutral in my setting. I get nothing much more than a light sweetness and maybe some floral notes-honeysuckle and a light bread, maybe.

The taste does start with a barely sweet hay and cracker malt taste. Earthy to grassy and floral notes are carried by lively carbonation to entice the palate before leaving it a little dry.

A nice, simple yet well constructed pale ale. Glad to have gotten to try it.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.76/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

11.2oz bottle
A - highly carbonated opaque amber body with a very creamy off-white head that holds great retention
S - bready spicy yeast, fruity esters, biscuity malt
T - biscuit malt; bread, spice, & fruity esters from the yeast; faint orange zest
M - extremely effervescent making it feel like a very full body, finishes spicy, zesty, and dry
O - pretty good! I wasn't sure what to expect with all the hype surrounding the release of this beer. Will I buy it again? I might buy it again and have a couple Belgians on hand for comparison.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 330 mL bottle into a chalice. No bottling or freshness date to be found. Wonderful presentation and labeling. Well done.

Smells nice! Spicy/zesty yeast with some baked bread and clove, as well as a grassland/herbal hop note. Inviting aroma.

The flavor is yeast focused, with nice accents of malt and hops. In a blind tasting I would have called this a farmhouse/saison, but as a Belgian Pale it works wonderfully. That is the thing with Belgian styles, they can be interpreted in so many ways. The yeast is spicy but not overly phenolic, with elements of cracked coriander seed, distant clove, fresh cut weeds, and a bright "almost" citrus note. Well done so far. Hops make a showing, but less so than I would expect from other reviews. The malt is crackery and light, with light bread crust.

Conclusion: This is a well done beer. Perhaps quality control has been shaky as the whole project gets going, and that would account for the low ratings (especially from the Bros). Whatever the reason, the bottle I have sampled is delicious, and I am proud to call it the first Trappist beer from the U.S.

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

a: a hazy burnt amber color, with some darker orange color towards the center of the glass. 1.5 finger slightly off-white head

s: bubblegum, clove, some spicy Belgian yeast, a bit of wheat, overly ripe banana, sweet caramel malt, and just a hint of alcohol to cut the sweetness. this is going to sound a little weird, but it smells similar to a dunkel

t: follows the nose pretty well. pear and ripe banana up front. sweet caramel, and freshly baked crackers follow. behind that is some of that spicy yeast, clove, coriander, and a hint of effervescent wheat. theres a very small honey-like sweetness towards the end as well

m: medium mouthfeel with high carbonation. the high carbonation works well with this

o: its a bit sweeter and fruitier than some other Belgian Pale Ales. mouthfeel and carbonation are spot on. honestly, its a tasty beer. flavors are well-harmonized, and is easy to drink. its just a little off on the BPA flavor profile i'm used to (although i know the style encompasses quite a bit)

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Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Spencer community is top-notch so it is unsurprising that this product is also par for the course there. Champagne-like carbonation with exceptional retention and lacing. Banana, bready, so much like Karmeliet that I'll label it as Karmeliet-Lite. Well done!

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

L - Bronze with no clarity. Unfiltered. 1 finger of head

S - Sweet belgian candy and yeast. Bananas

T - Perfect balance of belgian candy sugar and yeast. Not too sweet. Just perfect. Lots of fruit and well balanced with a hop blend.

F - Well carbonated

O - An awesome Abbey ale. And it's American? Huh. Definitely done right!

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Photo of BigRedDog
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The appearance is a golden orange in the middle, blooming out into lighter shades of straw when light hits it. Nice fluffy, chalky, white head.

Smell has the typical yeast esters. A white pepper spice and some notes of lemongrass.

Flavor has a nice yeast spice. Slight sweet notes play on the tongue. Lighter stone fruit flavors linger in the background.

Mouthfeel is rich and slightly creamy.

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Photo of baconfromwalmart
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: Thick, fluffy head thinned to substantial lacing as the beer was consumed. Cloudy golden brown with yeast floaters
S: Earthy and sweet
T: Nice, mellow but definitely not boring. Awesome balance of malty citrus goodness
F: Carbonation up front but finishes smooth
O: Really good, I will definitely be having this again!

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Photo of Bugs318
3.76/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

cloudy copper, fizzy white head, no retention. Nose wafts sweat and some fermenting pear, with hints of light floral hops and mild spicy phenols. Taste is similar if a bit one dimensional and a bit boozier than it has a right to be. Sharp carbonation and a fine creamy, medium body.

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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 drtth
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours out into a Duvel glass a lightly hazed golden orange color with 2 1/2" fluffy off white head that begins to recede visibly but slowly down to about an nice layer of foam, leaving a circle and some legs and patches of lacing. Sipping creates a sheet of foam that slides back down the glass leaving more scattered patches of foam.

The aromas contain classic Belgian Pale Ale components with yeast, some orchard fruit and hints of grain.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose (and the style) with the yeast character right up front, some fruity notes, a bit of spice and a hint of bitterness in the back of the palate. There is, however, in the flavor profile something that doesn't seem quite right to me but I can't quite identify what it is.

The mouth feel is medium bodied and crisp with active carbonation. The finish is a bit on the longer side as the complex interplay of flavors gradually fades away into a light dryness that invites another sip.

Overall, this seems a well brewed Belgian style Pale Ale and almost lives up to the expectation set by being a Trappist beer. While its not the best of the batch it is certainly worth having another when in the mood for this style of beer. Also I suspect that as the beer gets tweeked over time there will be some subtle improvements in the flavor profile.

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Photo of JackRWatkins
3.94/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 ml in a st. bernardus chalice

A: rich thick hazy amber/orange, weak head that dissipates quickly
S: semi sweet, and a little pepper in the nose, almost in a tomato ketchup sort of way (odd I know) very subtle sweet caramel notes, tiny bit of brine (almost in a soy sauce sense) in the nose as well (smells just barely salty)
the smell ultimately reminds me of chef boyardee spaghetti and salt, it gets more unpleasantly manifest as the beer sits and mellows
T: sharp with the carbonation but not offputtingly so, subtle caramel notes again, subtle hop bitterness that evolves at the end of the take and manifests then, obviously yeast but balanced with the malt so well that neither is manifestly pronounced, some lemon notes at the front, almost so much so at the front that if you are trying to dig deep you will miss it at first, you will begin to feel the malt in your breath a little more as the beer sits out though not so much in a pronounced taste (I suppose a biscuity character could be argued but only in the sense that the malts are clean and very much not in the foreground here) there's also a tartness that comes in as the beer mellow which pronounces the malt a tad further
M: nondescript, a little sharp as previously stated
O: this is a decent beer but honestly I'm left trying to figure out how to adequately discuss it, it is not incredible, but in a sense is hard to taste, I'm not sure what I had and I think that I will have to have it again a few more times to be able to definitively comment, if there is any criticism that is easy to levy it is that everything here is far too subtle and nuanced, and all in equal measure, it's too balanced and no one flavor stands out enough to peak positive interest, only curiosity

ps. carbonation is a little harsh, getting the sense that it's impeding my ability to perceive the different flavors here. I love trappist beer and would but this again but let's be honest if it werent a new american trappist beer no one would bother talking about it. that said as someone noted a good first attempt and rome was indeed not built in a day so I am beaming with pride that this american beer even exists, st. joseph's abbey please keep at it

glassware is of the utmost importance on this one
pick a glass with a very narrow opening, im using a snifter this time around, it is way better

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Spencer Trappist Ale from The Spencer Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 196 ratings.
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