Spencer Monks' India Pale Ale 473ml

John ShearlockApr 27, '22
Wow! Sometimes it’s hard not to get excited when you stumble across something immensely cool. I plucked this beer off the shelf from our chiller thinking… “hmmm a crisp IPA would be nice to drink, I mean write about,” and low and behold, it’s made by a bunch of American monks! I guess I really should know these things, but so many beers, so little time etc etc…

Until very recently, Trappist beer was exclusively made in Europe by a handful of monastic breweries. You know, the likes of Orval, La Trappe and Westmalle. In 1997, they set up the International Trappist Association with quite strict rules for those seeking certification. It has since grown to around 14 breweries with additions from the UK, Italy and, of course, Spencer in the USA, formed by a group of monks living in the St Joseph abbey in Massachusetts. These guys make the first and only certified Trappist beer in the United States.

Trappists really do epitomise the craft beer ideology, with a dose of spirituality for good measure. Life is work and prayer with a big focus on community and sustainability, and the dedication to the monastic way means that the brewery has a team for life, and, as such, is setting goals for the next 100 years. I wonder how many other US breweries could say that?

So let's see how this monk juice tastes. It’s flavoured with Citra, Mosaic, Amarillo and Simcoe.

It’s a lovely pale amber in the glass with a pristine white head and opens with a tropical fruit bomb of a nose, offering plenty of pineapple, citrus and ripe mango elements. The palate is super balanced with plenty of fruit sweetness and a lovely crisp bitter finish.

Well our monks have obviously meditated on this recipe for a while as it’s a winner for sure, with the sort of pristine clarity that reminds one of the ring of an abbey bell on a Sunday afternoon in spring.

I like the idea of a band of brothers making beer with their community in mind and it has me wondering whether a career change could be good? Buying beer from these guys really is an investment in the future. Just look at the order they have joined. Most Trappist breweries have been around since the mid 1800s and you can bet that in 100 years or so, when some of the other big US brewers have long since folded... these guys will still be going strong.