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Spencer Monks' Reserve Ale | The Spencer Brewery

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Spencer Monks' Reserve AleSpencer Monks' Reserve Ale
Very Good
33 Ratings
Spencer Monks' Reserve AleSpencer Monks' Reserve Ale

Brewed by:
The Spencer Brewery
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by BrittEBurke on 04-18-2017

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 33 |  Reviews: 13
Reviews by jlindros:
Photo of jlindros
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

FINALLY! THey made a quad. I can't believe it took them this long. I figured it would be their second beer after the Trappist.

Pours a decent fizzy foamy 1/2 finger head that fades semi slowly, nice looking retention, a bit of lacing and long legs, super dark brown mahogany molasses color with almost no light coming through.

nose is quite fruity, lots of fig plum raisin fruits, big sweet candy malts as well, an almost BBQ sauce tangy fruity and sweet brown sugar molasses, candi sugar, candied raisins, toffee brittle candy, some booze warmth like aroma, a little fruity ester, mild phenols even, a little biscuity cookie.

Taste brings plenty of sweet flavors, more fruit and BBQ sauce again, tangy fruity sweet molasses BBQ sauce and touch of cooked vegetable like flavor, burnt brown sugar and cooked raisins, caramelized sugars and molasses, dark candi sugar, candy everything, toffee, brittle, molasses, caramel, etc. a touch of biscuity malt, lots of fruity esters with more plum, candied raisin, date, some booze warmth and tingle, fig paste, a bit of bitter earthy hop on the back end, and alcohol flavor late, drier finish than I expected, but more booze.

Mouth is med to fuller bod, rich, a lot of carbonation more than I would expect, and typical booze tingle.

Overall not bad, some nice characters, lots of sugars, too much candy flavors and too much on the cooked and burnt flavors, could have used less carbonation and maybe a hint less booze but it hits basically what you'd expect for a quad.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Brutaltruth
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tasted from the 750 ml corked and caged bottle in a snifter. This nice quad pours
a dark red tinged mahogany with a beautiful head of light tan foam that settles to a
thick ring, thin light layer, and showcases some nice sudsy lacing. Nose of dates, figs,
dark raisins, dark candy malts, light herbal notes of anise and horehound candy, and
moderate booze. Flavors hit it perfectly with dark candy sugars, light anise and subtle
herbal notes that persist to the finish with moderate booze that is lightly astringent and
grain touched. Nice mouth feel; medium body, medium light carbonation that sears in the
booze, and a sweet Belgian candy sugar finish.

Overall, a solid Trappist done right in America.


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Photo of garymuchow
4.21/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rich. almost like candied, fruit with plum really showing up. Soft spicing. I like how it's not too sweet.
Very dark with garnet in the light, otherwise nearly black. Dense big head. Tan color. Takes its time to settle leaving a nice dark lacing.
Really smooth and again rich without too much sweetness. Complex fruit flavors with plum strongest. Solid drying and even holding some hop bitterness with the finish. Full malt flavors with the yeasty spice showing here and there but never the dominant flavor.
Direct shot of warmth to the gut. Smooth even with the ample and appropriate carbonation. Solid moderate feel overall.
I'm surprised by the lower scores on this, by some. This is a well done BDSA. Smooth as all get out. Rich and complex flavors with no hints of excess.
Thanks T.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Todd
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate magazine #126 (July 2017):

Monks' Reserve Ale debuted at our Microbrew Invitational in Boston, Mass., and I heard grumblings on the fest floor that it wasn’t good. But I was committed to trying it, and sampled three 2-ounce pours.

Dark brown with a creamy, tan head and clinging lace, it's malt-forward like all Quads, with layers of dark fruits, chocolate, roast, toasted bread, and a dry, biscuity, husky, and almost astringent bite. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and the finish is smooth with a peppery heat toward the end that lingers. And yeah, the booze is there. At 10.2 percent ABV it does say "hello," but the alcohol doesn’t whack you in the head while you're drinking it. What I like most about Monks' Reserve Ale is that it’s definitely not your typical Quad, which would’ve been easier for them to brew. It's different. Done their way. And very American.

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Photo of grahuba
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of SkyyNapalm
4.16/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of trevorpost
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of puboflyons
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with an expiration date of 05/09/19. Sampled on June 27, 2017.

This is a highly attractive looking beer with a dark amber-mahogany brown look to it underneath a soft, silky, tan head that lingers to the finish.

Powerful and vibrant aromas of dark sweet malts, raisins, dates, plums, licorice, anise, and just a hint of booze.

Medium to heavy body but smooth all around.

The taste has the same sweet and roasty characters as I pick up in the aroma although there is this kind of musty cellar aftertaste along with a slight boozy bite. Still, I expected something bold so I have no complaints.

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Photo of liquorpig
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Brolo75
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

330 ml bottle poured into a tulip

Pours a hazy mahogany ruby color with a tan colored head, head is frothy, creamy and full, great head retention and slight lacing.

Very aromatic, classic dark fruit quad aromas like figs, dates, plums, brown toasted sugar, malts, slight spice and banana notes as well, nice aroma.

Like the nose, lots of dark fruit flavors, hit of spice in the middle, finish has a slight spice note along with phenols, there's also a very strong burnt coffee like note at the end.

Full bodied with a very dry finish, classic Belgian bubbly mouthfeel.

A solid example of quad, lots of dark fruit flavors, spice, slight banana, malts, toasted brown sugar, but there is a strong, yet slight burnt coffee like note in the finish, something I've never tasted in other quads. Still, a great sipping beer, I'd definitely buy it again.

November 12, 2017 - Just pulled a bottle that is around 5 months old, the burnt coffee flavor is gone and this has mellowed into a smooth, easy drinking dark fruit, banana, Belgian yeast bomb, it has aged well and I'm looking forward to see how well the other bottles age.

 1,127 characters

Photo of desint
3.76/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of user785335
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

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

Photo of cbutova
4.51/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- 11.2oz bottle reveals a deep mahogany brown brew into my snifter. The cap is huge peaking around three inches high with a thick and creamy consistency. Amazing head retention as literal thick blankets of lace form on most of the glass. A huge belt and island remains on the beer indefinitely, a beauty.

S- A well rounded and rich Quad aroma with intense contributions from the yeast and malts. A decadent mix of toasted nuts, brown sugar, deep heavily caramelized sugar, clove, rich woodsy spices, tons of dark red dry fruits like fig, raisin and dates, cola, candied zests and even earthy cinnamon.

T- As in the aroma a plethora of sweet malts (but not cloying), yeast spice and dark dried fruits saturate the senses. The spiciness feels woodsy and even a bit herbal with clove, cinnamon and cardamom-esque notes leading into figs, plum, raisin, dates, toasted nuts, leather, tobacco, caramel, cola, phenolics and dark bitter grapes.

MF- Luscious and heavy overall body with a fluffy and creamy, borderline chewy texture. A very high end carbonation and it all ends with a spicy yeast bitterness.

These local monks make some really good beers and this high ABV brew might be one of their best. Beautiful head and lacing paves the way for a rich blend of spicy, malty and dark dried fruity flavors.

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Photo of smi69
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of REDAMI
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750ml bottle into Chimay goblet.

L - Deep mahogany pour with a thick tan foam.

S - Roast coffee, brown bread, copper, toffee.

T - Black coffee, treacle, toasted bread, dark roasted grains, bitter hoppy finish.

F - Thin, well hidden alcohol, slightly warming, unobtrusive carbonation.

Swings slightly towards the stout side of things with this flavor profile. The trademark creamy malt flavors are lacking. Overall pleasant, but might be better aged.

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Photo of justmebro
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bobstockwell
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Prost76
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ryan1788a5
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Very dark- almost black but for some deep purple hues. Beige, fine-bubbled head recedes after a short time. Wispy rings of lacing.

S: Bitter chocolate, burnt grain, husky, cola, black cherry, black currant, musty yeast, vague herbal and yeasty spice notes.

T: Grain-forward with a heavy toast. Bitter dark chocolate. Chicory. Earthy. Black cherry and plum. Warming alcohol. Musty yeast and vague spice qualities. Grainy and charred coffee- notes on the finish.

M: Medium-thick body. Firm but gentle malt weight lays on the tongue like a comfy blanket. Ample carbonation provides gentle lift. Creamy. Mildly astringent. Nice feel overall.

O: A little heavy-handed on the specialty malts I think. A heavily toasted, almost burnt and overly grainy/husky character distracts. Still a good drink, but not nearly as well-constructed and balanced as its other Trappist quad brethren. Then again, that bar was set almost impossibly high.

 974 characters

Photo of Dope
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Best by 5/9/19, I assume bottled on the same date in 2017

A: Pours an extremely dark brown. It's so close to black but not quite. Tall and dense brown head. Head retention is top notch with very little dissipation. Lacing consists of solid thick walls all the way around.

S: Whoa, big sharp belgian yeast notes. Spiced for sure, plenty of pepper, earth and dark fruits. Bready for sure.

T: Yow, heavily spiced quad for sure. HUGE amount of black pepper right up front. Earthy as well, with some mild dark fruit following. Some charred sweet dark bread in the middle. Char goes slightly bitter/acrid in the finish with a resurgence of black pepper and earth.

M: Medium/heavy body, smooth with no sign of alcohol.

O: Interesting quad, big big big belgian yeast notes but it's missing a lot of that traditional sweetness and fruitiness that most quads tend to have. It's not bad, just different. I guess I was expecting a belgian trappist quad experience but this brewery is only an hour from my house! Good still, just not great.

 1,035 characters

Photo of brureview
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

To fully appreciate this beer, drink it warm, at least 50° in a Trappist glass. Even better at 55°.
This beer received ho hum reviews, but it's an excellent Quad. Proper glassware and temp make the day.

Poured an opaque chocolate color with a 1F head in an Orval Trappist glass- the best for this beer as shown on the label.

Lots of spice in the aroma, fruit, raisin, some licorice.

Malty MF, not carbonated, and relatively smooth.

Taste follows the aroma. Spice, raisin, licorice, fruit. Very pronounced but not overdone. This is a well balanced, mellow quad with a sharp bitterness that creeps up on you.

I was pleasantly surprised. I read lackluster reviews and didn't open the bottle for a while.
Quite underrated. Up there with some European quads. The key is glassware and temp. Much of the tasting was at 55°.

 826 characters

Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle, it pours a dark brown with a nice tan head, reducing eventually to a ring. Some clingy lacing on the sides. Scent is malty with a touch of alcohol. Taste is malty also with a bit of alcohol. Mouthfeel is creamy and clingy. Yum!

 249 characters

Photo of Latarnik
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Spencer Monks' Reserve Ale from The Spencer Brewery
Beer rating: 3.97 out of 5 with 33 ratings
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