Spencer Monks' Reserve Ale
The Spencer Brewery

Spencer Monks' Reserve AleSpencer Monks' Reserve Ale
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Style:
Belgian Quadrupel (Quad)
Ranked #75
ABV:
10.2%
Score:
89
Ranked #7,172
Avg:
4.03 | pDev: 10.42%
Reviews:
51
Ratings:
135
From:
The Spencer Brewery
 
Massachusetts, United States
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  4
Gots
  25
SCORE
89
Very Good
Spencer Monks' Reserve AleSpencer Monks' 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: 51 | Ratings: 135 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of elNopalero
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.

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Photo of OlaB
4.19/5  rDev +4%
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.

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Photo of Anders91
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
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 bog flavor here

Feel: smooth with small strong bubbles

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Photo of GregDBoston
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of Lucular
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of Harrison8
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
3.77/5  rDev -6.5%
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

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Photo of stcules
3.05/5  rDev -24.3%
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.

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Photo of ChipChaight
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep mahogany with strong light tan head, smell and taste is sharp phenolic molasses, toffee, spiced pound cake, dark caramel, finishes with apple brandy and a hint of cinnamon heat, this beer is full bodied and chewy. For some reason I rarely have big Belgian beers like this, which is a shame because this is absolutely delicious and tastes like drinking a piece of history, a reminder to get back into the malt candy Trappist yums.

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Photo of mwilbur
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter. Best by 03/14/22.
A: Pours a lovely dark brown with 2+ inch frothy light tan head with good excellent retention.
S: Intoxicating dark spices of all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more hit first. Subtle mint and layers of toasted malt.
T: The layers of dark spice and toasted malt dominate. Hints of sweet mint and melon. Wish this was a bit more complex from the yeast.
M: Medium-heavy feel. Malty sweetness. Again, wish there was a bit more from the yeast. Lingers nicely on the palate.
D: On the lighter side for style. I did enjoy the spice and malt layers. Pretty darn good on the whole!

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.59/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: One finger brown-white head, brown body.

Smell: See below.

Taste: Dark fruits, mint, cinnamon, mild nutmeg, mild tobacco. Rather herbal.

Feel: Medium body, medium-high carbonation. Mild alcohol presence, mildly sweet upfront with a balanced finish.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.14/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Spencer Trappist Glass

A - Pours the classic appearance of dark cola clour with large beige head. maybe a little too frothy.
S - Aromas of cola molassis and sugars
T - Nice flavours here. Nice smooth dark fruits, not that pronounced with a nutty finish.
M - Full bodied with low carbonation
O - Well this is a Trappist beer and in some respects it hits the mark, however the yeast strain lets it down and it fades a long way behind its Quad brothers of St Bernardus ABT 12, Rochfort 10, Achel Extra and Westvleteren 12. Having said that it is definitely worth trying as it is somewhat individual

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Photo of taxandbeerguy
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

330 ml bottle served just below room temperature into a chalice. AN LCBO purchase for under $4 CDN. Best before September 27, 2021.

Appearance - Pours a very dark brown, but with red hues rather than black ones. A finger plus of light tan head is poured but fizzles out quick. No lacing to speak of.

Smell - honey, caramel initially before dark fruits, molasses, licorice and roasted malt comes in. Suggestion of cherries. Aromatically intense and a really nice medley of smells come together.

Taste - Initially some brown sugar and sweetness before roasted malts, a slight woodsy smokiness and molasses come into play. Undercurrent of dark fruits and especially prunes. Really well put together. The ashy molasses and smokey woodsy bits make it a quad but with some stout / porter elements. Spices do heat up after a few sips, but remain pretty underplayed (meaning well played) within this brew.

Mouthfeel - Heavy bodied, booze very well hidden, carbonation soft and feel is pillowy and velvety.

Overall - Wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did. Monk's Reserve Ale is a really top notch stuff that matches up well with the best the Trappist brewers from Belgium have to offer. Highly recommended to pick up a couple of bottles.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours deep dark mahogany with a frothy, pillowy tan head that lasts forever. Cherry, raspberries, caramel cake, smokey dark malts and some booze spice in the nose. The taste is very malty with a stewed fruit character. Chicory notes in there too. Light leafy hops are nearly imperceptible. medium body with lots of creamy carbonation. Some alcohol heat, fruitiness and somewhat coarse roastiness in the finish.

A nice Quad that could perhaps benefit from a fuller body. I still recommend it.

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Photo of Cramshawbar
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not a bad attempt at a Belgian, a style that usually means "fail", even by many of the Belgian breweries. Spencer doesn't quite get it right either...there is that metallic taste that characterizes the brews that miss the trappist mark. But this is still drinkable and surprisingly soft.
A bit pricey for what you get, but you can still buy with confidence.

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Photo of jkblr
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle bb 3/01/20 poured into a Spencer signature chalice at fridge temp 10.2% ABV. The beer pours dense medium brown in color with short lived light brown head. The head recedes to a few bubbles and a thin ring. The aroma is brown sugar, raisin and bubblegum. The taste is burnt sugar caramel and spice over rich malt. The finish is wet and not slightly bitter with a licorice note to keep it from being cloying. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with less than medium carbonation. No alcohol presence in the aroma or taste. Overall, good. Nice quad, but I find the spice to be too much and the dark fruit lacking. Nothing wrong, but not playing to my personal preferences.

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Photo of polloenfuego
3.72/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep mahogany brown with a fluffy three finger off white head. Retention is excellent and lacing is quite good.

Smell is fruity and yeasty. True to the style, I get dark fruits, a touch of candi, some yeast and assorted winter spices including clove and nutmeg.

Taste follows the nose to a certain limit. I get the yeast and dark fruit for sure, and the spices are there, perhaps overpowering. It just really falls short though. Oddly a burnt taste in there too.

Feel is alright, about the right body for a quad, if not a touch light. Finish is actually quite bitter and not what I expect for the style. Spice is pervasive throughout.

Not what I would call a Trappist quad. In fact nowhere near what I expected. I'd rather spend my money on some St Bernardus or Rochefort.

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Photo of janubio
3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in a Chimay glass at Las Buenas Pulgas. Black colour, medium off white head and medium retention. Creamy lace. Aroma of spices, cloves, cardamom, dried fruits, prunes, raisins, coffee, chocolate, and just a little bit of wood smoke. Medium body, creamy texture, good carbonation. Sweet finish. Taste of cloves, caramel, dried fruits, chocolate, coffee.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

In what's this abbey's grandest of grande cru to date, the brothers of The Spencer Brewery employ a specialized grouping of spices to push the dry and drinkable sense of a darker, strong Belgian styled ale well past what an ale of such imperialized status should.

Deep garnet and well capped with a wet sand rocky froth, their Monk's Reserve Ale grips the nose with a medley of dark and toasted spices along with dark fruit, toast and a faint smokey scent. Equally toasty and laced with brown sugar, the beer's malt profile lies on the seared side of steely caramel.

As the ale embarks upon the middle palate, its sweetness dampens just a bit and the intertwine of fruit and spice largely frame the bulk of flavor. Grilled fruits of blackcherry, blackcurrant, plum, blackberry, red grape, blueberry and fig pull from the malt and wait on a quick rebuttal of roasted clove, cinnamon and allspice for an even keel yet complex taste. Add in the toasted edges of campfire, peppercorn and vinous spice and the late palate isn't shy on variety either.

Medium full and lightened with expressive carbonation, the beer's dryness is further fueled by brandy warmth, dissolving malt sweetness and a piquant carbonic bite. Although the fruit and malt die off at a medium length aftertaste, its peppery twinge and fortified wine spices linger much longer.

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Photo of Ninjakillzu
4.73/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Pint Defiance tulip. The body is a dark brown with a finger white head. Aromas consist of dark fruits, coffee, a hint of butterscotch, fruitcake, and some yeasty ester undertones. Flavors are the same. The feel is heavy bodied with medium carbonation. The alcohol is a bit hot on the finish. Somewhat different from traditional Belgian Quads, but still quite good.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle served in a tulip glass. Best by 06/21/19. Date stamp B33 15:59.

Appearance: A slow pour to leave the sediment behind left a clear dark ruby-red to mahogany-colored beer with a thin light tan head that slowly died back. An occasional island of lacing was noted to slide back down the glass to join the persistent ring of foam.

Smell: Yeasty, sweet bread aroma, fruity esters, dark fruits, a bit boozy, and some underlying spicy aroma.

Taste: Toffee, dark fruits, a hint of molasses, and a roasted malt bitterness that has aspects of coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Some alcoholic/boozy fruity esters noted as well.

Mouthfeel: Good thickness and prickly carbonation. A bit astringent though. Definite warming from the alcohol.

Overall / Drinkability: A slow sipping and savoring beer for sure. Probably one of the more bitter quads I've had, but it works. Definitely a good beer for winter, but after a good meal on a Friday after a long week of work, it works as a treat even though it's summer. Definitely something to have again.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.79/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

11.2 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter

This beer pours very dark brown and has ruby highlights when held to the light. It is topped with an inch of beige head that leaves spotty lacing.

The smell is toasted grain and date and fig with hints of booze.

The taste is earthy and spicy. I get date and fig flavors. The finish is spicy and boozy.


Medium mouthfeel with low carbonation


This is a pretty solid beer. The alcohol isn't shy.

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Photo of chitoryu12
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Insanely, incredibly frothy to the point where opening a bottle requires a quick pour into a glass to avoid spilling the tan head on the ground. Beautiful ruby red when held up to a light, dark brown without.

Smell: Strong scents of dried fruit, mixed with hops and a bit of sweet malt.

Taste: Almost like a stout! Toasted coffee and chocolate are the predominant flavors, with that distinctive roasted malt bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Heavily carbonated, but medium thickness.

Overall: The only reason I haven't rated it higher is that I expected a quad and got the flavor of a stout. While good, it's not quite what you expect when you pour.

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Spencer Monks' Reserve Ale from The Spencer Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 135 ratings