Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Trappist Beers - Rochefort

[Installment #5 in a series]

The Brasserie de Rochefort is located at the Abbey of Our Lady of Saint Rémy. Originally founded in 1229, the abbey was destroyed in 1560 and later rebuilt beginning in 1664. There is evidence of brewing activity on the site as early as 1595 and brewing has continued uninterrupted since 1899.

Three beers are produced by the Rochefort monks; Rochefort 6 and Rochefort 8, both of which are Belgian Strong Ales, and Rochefort 10, a Quadrupel. According to the official abbey website (in french) the monks brew four times per week (Monday through Thursday). They do not sell directly to the public, and bottle only in 330 ml bottles. The numbers 6, 8, and 10 do not directly correspond to alcohol level. Instead they refer an old measuring unit of the density, the Belgian legal degree, which corresponds to the density of the wort before fermentation.

We continued our Trappist beer exploration starting with a bottle of Trappistes Rochefort 6. The date code stamped on the label stated L 21 02 12 08:23. I understand that indicates an expiration date of 2012, meaning a bottling date of February 2007. Poured into a large wine glass, the beer is a russet-orange color with a thick beige head. The head drops to a thin layer with moderate lacing. The aroma is muted with notes of caramel, spice and dark fruit. The flavor profile is on the mild side as well. Some dark cherries and bready yeast can be picked out, but there's no particular flavor that stands out. There is a bit of alcohol warmth noted that's more than I expected from the 7.5% ABV. The mouthfeel is smooth with a cider-like tang. The Rochefort 6 was an easy to drink beer that presents a very subtle aroma and flavor profile.

Next up was a Trappistes Rochefort 8. The bottling code on this one was L050912 08:21, indicating a bottling date of September 2007. The 9.20% ABV beer poured a dark (rootbeer) brown, and even with an easy pour developed a thick foamy beige head. Lots of sticky lacing is left as the head drops. The aroma has notes of banana, clove and yeast. The taste of the Rochefort 8 is malty and complex, with hints of vanilla, milk chocolate and brown sugar. There's a slightly bitter aftertaste though the beer finishes cleanly leaving little behind. The mouthfeel is highly carbonated. The Rochefort 8 offered a stronger flavor profile than the 6, but was still on the muted side.

Both of these beers were more subtle and milder than the other Belgian Trappist beers we've had so far. They would probably do well in keeping the palate cleansed when paired with some flavorful cheeses. Rather than as evening sippers, they may serve well as warm afternoon refreshments.

The first post in the series is here.

2 comments:

  1. In my opinion Rochefort is the best of the Trappist ales (excluding Westleveren - which I've never had a chance to try). I made the mistake of trying the 10 before the 8. Start low and work up.

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  2. Spot on with the review of the 8. Great beer.

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