Spencer Monks' Reserve Ale | The Spencer Brewery

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Spencer Monks' Reserve AleSpencer Monks' Reserve Ale
Very Good
72 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 Britt on 04-18-2017

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 72 |  Reviews: 29
Reviews by jlindros:
Photo of jlindros
4.04/5  rDev +2.5%
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 +7.4%
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 +6.9%
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 -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Todd
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
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 GratefulBeerGuy
3.89/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle. BB 6/21/19 opened on 2/8/18

A very dark shade of brown, nearly black except for some ruby red highlights when in direct light. The tan, thick frothy foam cap holds on bubnly but dense throughout the duration.

The aroma is pretty impressive at first, whiff's of a dense chocolate and cherries , fruity syrup, style malt pops right out. Charred wheat and grains, dense dark fruits and vanilla or whipped cream is in there too. Herbs and spices, big time.

The malt hits home first, stout like style malty charecter, dark, burnt wheat and grains, stout sized chocolate and cream taste from the" larger than life " malty profile. The depth and complexity of this malt is serious. The local barley and craft malting locally lends to a malt dominant Quad.

Beyond the wall of malt; is some dense dark fruity tones, spicey and herbal, earthy tones from the yeast and hop combo. A nice, earthy, leafy and "green" hop taste couples well with "sweet n sour" funkiness of the yeast tones.

A very lively, jazzy mouthfeel, medium to full body that is rather crisp but slick at tge same time....what else would you expect from a super malty Quad??!!

Green, leafy hop taste poos out even more later on as the liquid warms up a bit. The alcohol heat is muted until it warms, as the bitter and hot aspects shine brighter. Actually adding a bit more complexity in the long run.

Overall, I really enjoy the complex and interesting malt charecter. Does it jive within the flavor profile of a traditional Belgian Quad....yes & No. Quads are a rather malty Belgian offering, but in a slightly different way, they're usually sweet but not hefty, a lighter malty feel, where this is a full bodied adeventure. American breweries, even American Trappist versions seem to lack the wild depth of charecter from the yeast that the French and Belgian's seem to get. The balance is certainly off, but as an expeteimental brew, not without certain charms. Enjoyable, yes, strange, yes.

 1,979 characters

Photo of grahuba
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of SkyyNapalm
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Antyk
4.19/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of trevorpost
3.25/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of puboflyons
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
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 +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Brolo75
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of PJCarnell
3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of desint
3.76/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of user785335
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of buschbeer
3.79/5  rDev -3.8%
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 Kayakguy
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of chitoryu12
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
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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Photo of damndirtyape
4.01/5  rDev +1.8%
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 BB1313
3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Best by 6/21/19. 11.2oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a dark brown with a big creamy khaki head that that sticks around leaving great thick retention and sticky lacing. The aromas are malt forward along with some subtle yeast notes. Dark fruits are there along with some hints of vanilla. The flavors basically follow the nose for the most part. Some raisins, plum, black cherries and fig. A nice amount of chocolate along with some toffee and caramel. It's earthy with a decent bitterness. Solid malt backbone. Yeasts do their thing, but don't dominate. It finishes slightly spicy with a mild warmth, but the alcohol is ultimately well hidden. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with fluffy active carbonation. It's slightly creamy as well. It's smooth and dangerously drinkable.

This is a pretty solid Quad. It has alot of qualities that suggests that this was brewed overseas, but it wasn't. The craftsmanship is on point for the style. It's a really clean brew. It's enjoyable and fun to drink. Well done.

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Photo of cbutova
4.51/5  rDev +14.5%
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 safaricook
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Jjmj51
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Ronl12
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Spencer Monks' Reserve Ale from The Spencer Brewery
Beer rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 72 ratings