Monks' Reserve Ale
The Spencer Brewery

Monks' Reserve AleMonks' Reserve Ale
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Quadrupel (Quad)
Ranked #63
Ranked #6,832
4.05 | pDev: 10.12%
The Spencer Brewery
Massachusetts, United States
Monks' Reserve AleMonks' Reserve Ale
Notes: Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale is fragrant, robust and full bodied, mahogany in color and crowned with a dense, tan, frothy head. Its malt-forward profile yields to a warm finish. The recipe development phase of this Quad stretched over three years and 13 experimental brews. The Spencer monks sought an alternative to the use of spices for flavor enhancement by pushing the boundaries of traditional Trappist Quad malt profiles, even incorporating some local barley grown in nearby Barre, MA which was craft malted in Hadley, MA. The outcome is a unique product with a distinct flavor profile well situated within the Trappist family of Quadrupel ales. Trappist Quad 10.2% abv.
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Reviews: 66 | Ratings: 166 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Beginner2
Beginner2 from Illinois

4.01/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm liking how Spencer has progressed. I've only had their BPA (and panned it and recognize I must live to taste it again.)
But, their quad is very close to a quality interpretation of the Trappist standard.

The Monk's Reserve is not, pardon me please, luscious Looking; but does offer slightly above average foam for the style. Smells are fruity enough; but where is the richness? Tastes are more unique than they are close to the style's characteristic balanced sweetness. Monks' Reserve has something special that seems all Spencer's own: there is a strong licorice-like that emerges mid-palate and grows stronger to the finish. It is interesting; but I'm not yet sure it is better. In the finish, this is drier than the classics. And In the mouth, it is neither as sweet or salivating as those quads I return to again and again.

As for my micro-review, I will complete it later as I just bought a 4-pack of Reserve. And I will seek out their BPA again. As for now, Spencer is on my B List of NABBBL (North American Belgian Brewers Bucket List.) More talk to come.

Tuesday at 01:36 AM
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LarryV from Massachusetts

4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dirty amber color, pleasant, spicy nose. Malty, a bit herbal, dark fruits, slight hop twang - it all blends together into an excellent brew by the brothers. Alcohol is dangerously well hidden. Excellent brew. Kudos to the monks at Spencer Abbey.

Feb 14, 2021
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JamarcusMarinovich from California

4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, a nice find. Poured from bottle to pint glass (yes, I'm familiar with the pretentiousness of pouring into a tulip...). Finger of creamy tan head atop a nice deep brown/red pour. Subtle nose of malt and dark fruit, malty quad on the tongue for sure. Here the dark fruit, caramel maltiess and mild spicy tang come in, lingers mid-tongue and finishes clean but not with the high alcohol burn you may expect. Very warm and almost brandy-like finish. Full-bodied for sure, this is what a 'meal in a bottle' is like. Not a buffet meal, but a Gordon Ramsay-like meal...flavors, spice and fruit notes combining for an exquisite taste, Hmmm, sounding a bit pretetious myself.

Jan 24, 2021
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RonaldTheriot from Louisiana

4.75/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Monk's Reserve Ale has a thin, yellow-beige head and a translucent, bubbly, brown appearance, with some lacing. The aroma is of raisin, prune, dates, figs, and dark holiday bread. The taste is similar, with lots of sweetness and some balancing bitterness. Medium body, and moderately-dry finish.


Nov 03, 2020
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Donniejq from Tennessee

4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Taste is dark fruit heavy, with a dark bread maltiness. It has more of a bitterness to it than other beers of this style, maybe a touch of of tobacco juice to the aftertaste. Pretty solid.

Oct 31, 2020
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.16/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Roy_Hobbs (I think) for this one. 11.2 oz bottle (best by 1/14/22) poured into 14oz teku. Poured a solid black color, not the deep red/reddish brown of the style, with 2/3 inch of tan head that had moderate retention and extremely light lacing.

The aroma had a ll the deep stone fruit, malt, and yeast spices one expects. Just a slight touch of alcohol as well.

Fairly well similar on the tongue, with the alcohol heat being much more notable.

The body was solid, but perhaps a touch thinner and lighter than usual.

Drinkability was solid and enjoyable, I'd happily drink more of these.

Overall, not bad, but certainly not a standout of the style. Worth trying if see it.

Oct 02, 2020
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plutonash from Latvia

4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

BBE: 19.09.22

L: Black, brown, a bit reddish in color. 2 finger head at pour, which is brownish, has a hint of chocolate. Nice lacing. The overall look seems porterish.
S: Caramel, burnt sugar, liquorice . Some banana and raisins. Whipped cream, with chocolate.
T: Dark chocolate again, rum, dark fruits. Really malty for the style, I don't mean that other belgians quads aren't malty, but this is different..
F: Nice mouthfeel, although keeps giving some imperial stout vibes, which is strange for this style.
O: For me, a mashup of a good winter porter / imperial stout and a belgian quad. Recently I reviewed a classic - Bernardus 12, and I think this beer is better than the bald monk. Yes, it is different, and doesn't fall completely within the lines of a classic belgian quad, but that's what it makes a bit different, a bit special.

Sep 26, 2020
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ilikebeer03 from Texas

3.76/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour is a deep brown with a thick, fluffy finger of tan head
Nose is fig, plum, raisin, watery yeast profile, subtle clove, apple.
Taste follows. Strong Clive, apple. Less prominent. plum, fig, strong burnt raisin, apple, candi sugar.

Sep 06, 2020
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.46/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Deep mahogany brown with a tan creamy head. Smell is rich with the malt aromas: caramel dipped plum and date with brown sugar, a touch of earthy smoke, brown bread and a kiss of booze. Not a traditional quad but I am loving this: follows the nose with the malts, dark fruits, and caramel starring, getting some molasses, apple esters, candi sugar mixed in with the brown sugar, and phenols with the bread and booze. Earthy smoke is artfully incorporated as it warms along with some lighter spices. Rich but not sweet, a selling point of the feel, full but not heavy, demands your palate's full attention without being overtaxing, velvet smooth and warm. Could have a touch more yeast depth. Well done brothers! The wife loved it

Aug 05, 2020
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HalfFull from California

4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a fairly clear light mahogany in color with a cap of mocha foam. Decent retention and some lacing follow as it settles in to a surface ring.

Aroma of stone fruit, crystalline sugar, touch of caramel. Black cherry/raspberry notes are fruit forward but not great depth on the dark malt side of things.

Taste follows expectations from the aroma. Light fruity body, lacking malt complexity perhaps, yet fairly light/refined on the finish as well. By no means cloying for the ABV yet the fruit notes don't linger well. Drinks easily cold and thankfully not full of raisin character like so many American Quads. Warming fills the body somewhat, keeping it quaffable for its strength.

Not quite up to its Belgian Brothers but well balanced, interesting in many ways. And clean, through and through. Nice belgian yeast notes arise with warming. Solid take on the style.

Jul 26, 2020
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EdHinPasadena from California

4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle with a best by date of 11/14/22. Opened 7/13/20. Poured in a tulip glass.
Pours a dark mahogany color. Not much head though (wife poured for me, so she may have poured to reduce head).
Scent is a pleasant, with plenty of spiciness and yeast.
The taste is very good. I notice the yeast and maltiness, with a fruity taste and notable spiciness as well. And I detect a hint of chocolate as well.
The mouthfeel is creamy, and pleasant to my taste buds.
Overall, this is another good brew from Spencer Brewery. Glad I decided to pick up a four-pack over the weekend. Look forward to drinking the others soon.

Jul 14, 2020
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mushroomcloud from Texas

4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle with a best by date of 11/14/22. Opened 7/11/20.
2 finger beige head full of creamy, dense foam. Tiny beads.
Very good retention, slow retraction with ample lacing left early.
Dark brown, mahogany colored ale.
Dark fruit and spice. Chocolate and lightly roasted malts. Baked bread/banana.
Fragrant aromas of yeast, fruit, spice.
Rich malty flavors of dark bread and some chocolate. Plums, fig and spice. Tobacco. Complex and flavorful.
Full body, creamy mouthfeel. Long, rich malty and yeast driven finish.
There's a little late lingering sweetness but overall I'd put this at off-dry.
What a surprise.

Jul 12, 2020
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champ103 from Texas

4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark mahogany brown color. A dense finger tan head evenly fills my Rochefort goblet. With excellent retention and sticky lace clinging to the sides.
S: A wonderful malt aroma. That goes from dark baked bread, toasted grains, to chocolate covered figs. Caramelized brown sugar, spicy yeast. A bit of warming alcohol in the nose.
T: Again, big malts here, and you need to let it warm up. Baked brown bread, caramelized sugars. Toasted malts, that boarded on a little roast. Then the chocolate, figs, raisins come into play. Spicy yeast characters mixed in as well.
M/O: A full body that is well carbonated for the style. Though this is silky smooth. A wonderful sipper, as this is has a lot of alcohol, which becomes warming and packs a punch.

Wow, this is a damn good example of a Belgian Strong Dark/Quad. There is a lot of complexity here, than many American brewers don't always get with the style. Will be getting more, and probably upping the score a bit as well, after a few more tries. Highly recommended.

Jun 28, 2020
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JonnoWillsteed from England

4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L- Dark chestnut through an edge of the glass, but straight on it might as well be black. Pours with 2mm fine-bubble tan head.
S- Mild liquor notes with touches of deep/pungent fruit.
T- Good heavens! It's quite pungent (in a good way) but very drinkable. I get the deep stewed-fruit note in the taste too
F- Deep, pungent, zero 'wrong'/out of place to note, this is going down a treat.
O- It's a full-on brew, even putting aside it's ABV% it's pungent. Ideal slow-sippin' beer after dinner, in winter, in front of the fireplace... you get the idea.
330ml Bought from BeersOfEurope/UK for home delivery to me in London BB: 19/09/22

Jun 18, 2020
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark reddish orange with a fine, two finger khaki head with great retention and thick lacing. Aroma of dry caramel malt, raisins, dates, Belgian yeast and light spices. Flavor follows with dry caramel malt, dates, raisins, dried plums, clove and mixed spices with hints of cinnamon and allspice. Semi-dry, spicy finish. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess. Very Belgian flavored yeast with interesting spice flavors that almost border on a winter warmer. The description says the spice is from the malt, which is pretty impressive. Looks great and has a luxurious mouth feel. A bit drier and spicier than a traditional quad, but quite flavorful and interesting on its own. I'm not disappointed that they made their own way with the quad style, well done. I like this one.

Jun 02, 2020
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elNopalero from California

4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a ruddy murky brown tan. Raisiny notes, with hints of tobacco and leather. Long finish, opens as it warms. It's surprisingly good for being a random curiosity pick.

May 18, 2020
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OlaB from Norway

4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep dark-brown color with a medium top off beige head that dissolves slowly and leaves some nice lacings on the glass. Pleasant aroma off dark malts,caramel, bread, raisins, figs, molasses, plums, cinnamon and herbal and earthy hops.
The taste is sweet with strong notes of dried fruits and spices, while the background has a strong malty profile with notes of roasted malts, caramel and dark bread. This is ballanced nicely with herbal hop notes before it finishes of dry with toasted notes in the background. Aftertaste has a nice lenght and strenght. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a medium carbonation and a full body.
A really nice and tasty example of a quadruple.

Apr 08, 2020
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Anders91 from California

4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: medium cream head, super dark brown amber around the edges

Smell: lots of spices, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg?, malt, minor notes of dark fruit. Much less dark fruit than in say a Abt 12 or a Stickee Monkee

Taste: plenty of spice, all of the ones mentioned, a bit more fruit than was on the nose, but the spice is definitely the big flavor here

Feel: smooth with small strong bubbles

Mar 10, 2020
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GregDBoston from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stronger ABV than I would normally drink, but well-balanced and not too sweet. A nice Belgian quadrupel, which I usually have trouble liking. Much smoother, in my opinion, that the original Spencer Trappist.

Feb 13, 2020
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jmdrpi from Pennsylvania

4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

330 ml bottle, dated 6/18/22, maybe dated 3 years out?

pours a nice dark brown with reddish highlights. thick tan colored head, pretty good head retention. malty aroma of caramel and mild fig and raisin, some mild spicy yeast esters. not quite as complex as some of it's Belgian brothers. taste is similar, but not sweet - fairly dry finish. good balance. medium bodied, but smooth silky carbonation.

Dec 07, 2019
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HattedClassic from Virginia

4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice white and creamy head with a bit of a brown note to it. The beer itself is a very dark brown head with a slight purple hue to it.
The smell is good. It has a combination of dark fruit notes like raisin and dates. There is also a barley note that manages to come forward a little bit to provide a bit of a rough spice note in the finish.
The taste is good. It has the dark fruit notes but the barley notes come out stronger than dark note with a bit of smokiness to it in the finish.
The feel is good. It's a heavy bodied with a fairly silky feel to it.
Overall, this is a pretty good beer worth getting and trying. The unique barley notes here make a good substitution for the traditional spice that is normally used.

Nov 10, 2019
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Lucular from Maryland

4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

5 oz pour on tap. Pours a deep brown, nearly black. Aroma and flavor feature dark fruit, dark malts, Belgian yeast esters, and candi sugar. Somewhat sweet but not cloying. The 10.2% abv is well-hidden. Overall this is a very well-made Belgian quad.

Oct 15, 2019
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Harrison8 from Missouri

3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown-black that looks like Coca-Cola, but with no bubbles. Head is a finger of khaki foam that lingers well. Aroma is roasty, toasty, caramely, nutty, earthy malts with plums, figs, dark fruits, caramel and toffee. It has a little initial sweetness that builds towards the finish. Flavor profile is toasty, nutty, earthy, caramely, roasty malts with figs, plums and dark and stone fruits. It opens up sweet, but finishes with a light char, bitterness. Mouth feel is lightly still that drinks a little like flat soda. It has a medium thickness. Overall, balance is a little wacky here with initial sweetness and finishing bitterness. Combine that with the still texture and it's lacking presence.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 11.2oz bottle.

Sep 28, 2019
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brentk56 from North Carolina

3.77/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a hazy mahogany color with a three finger head; good retention and splashy lace

Smell: Fig, banana and plum fruit; Candi sugar, with a complex layer of spice adjuncts - clove, allspice and cinnamon

Taste: The spices rush to the forefront, overwhelming the dark fruit and Candi sugar tones, which are there but fight to emerge; bitter and astringent, in the middle, with a medicinal tone on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate to high carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: I guess you could call this an American take on a quad but I didn't particularly care for it

Aug 14, 2019
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stcules from Italy

3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown color, little foam, quickly vanishng.
Malty smell, dark, candy sugar, fruit, plums, raisin. A bit light in intensity for a quad.
Same for the taste, all the right notes, plums, candy sugar, dark malts. But again, quite bland, not full.
The alcohol is absolutely well hidden, though.
Sugary aftertaste, bitter finish.
It lacks of depth and complexity.

Aug 12, 2019
Monks' Reserve Ale from The Spencer Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 166 ratings