Rochefort 8 is another official Trappist beer brewed by the monks at the Notre-Dame de Saint Rémy Abbey. It sits between its older brother, the Rochefort 10 and its little sister then Rochefort 6. Rochefort 8 is recognised by the green cap and the green "8" logo no the label.
Like all Rochefort beers this one is brewed by the Trappist monks to support their life. All other proceeds must go to charity. Like New York pizza, the secret to Rochefort's flavor is said to come from the water used to make it. This comes from the Tridaine stream that runs close to the Abbey, which also provides much of the water for the town of Rochefort.
Rochefort 8 is a very highly rated beer, not being seen as a "lesser" version of the 10 at all. Like its big brother it also has a perfect 100 score on Ratebeer.com. The main difference between Rochefort 8 and its bigger brother is the amount of hops, and the amount of fermentable sugars that were added during the brewing process. This make all Rochefort beers very similar to each other, while each of course still having its own character.
Rochefort 8 is a strong Belgian dark ale with hints of dark fruit, caramel, apricot and banana. It pours a nice dark brown caramel colour and has a foamy head. Flavors of the Rochefort 8 tend to remind of spices, caramel and chocolate. It has an alcohol content of 9.2%ABV which is very well hidden considering the velvety soft feeling you experience when drinking this beer.
Westvleteren 12 (or the Westy 12 to its friends) is one of the 10 true Trappist beers and has many times been chosen as "Best Beer in the World" by Ratebeer. Like its Westvleteren 8 and Westvleteren 6 siblings, it's brewed inside the Sint Sixtus abbey in the rural Belgian town of Westvleteren by monks and is one of the rarest and most sought after beers. Apart from being widely regarded as the best beer in the world, it's also been called a "desert island beer". It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for so many beer geeks, a world class Belgian Trappist beer that doesn't have many peers.
Officially it's only sold by appointment from the abbey and getting an appointment is a difficult task. The maximum amount one can purchase is 2 crates (48 beers and the creates are sold at a very reasonable price considering it's scarcity.
A few years ago on Nov 4th 2011 the monks decided to "allow" the Westvleteren 12 beer to be sold commercially, to fund some necessary repair works in their abbey. In Belgium it was sold through Colruyt and in the US it was distributed by Shelton Brothers. Special packaging was created for the Westvleteren 12 - a type of box with illustration of old heavy stones on it, to reflect the reason why it was being sold (for the renovation works of the abbey). A total of 7760 of these boxes, each containing 6 bottles and two glasses were imported in to the US, where they sold out very quickly.
The Westvleteren 12 beer bottle has no labelling at all and is distinguished from the other Westvleteren beers by the colour of its cap, which is yellow (as opposed to blue or green for the other two Westvleteren beers). This beer can be easily kept for several years and some say storing Westvleteren 12 in the cellar will only improve its taste.
This is a classic Belgian "quadrupel" beer, meaning it's a strong dark ale coming in at 10.2% ABV. Descriptions that appear most in tasting notes include "plums", "dark fruit", "chocolate" and "brown sugar". It has a murky brown color with a creamy and light brown head. It's absolutely a beer with a complex and very special, balanced taste that must be tried at least once by everyone who likes having a beer.
Rochefort 10 is a Belgian Trappist, a strong quad beer that's very highly rated. It sits in the same class of beers as St Bernardus Abt and Westvleteren 12, currently having a perfect 100 score on Ratebeer.com. The monks that brew Rochefort 10 create two other well known Trappists, the Rochefort 8 and Rochefort 6.
The Rochefort brewery is inside the Notre-Dame de Saint Rémy Abbey in the town of Rochefort which is about 120Km from Brussels or about half way to Luxembourg. Amazingly, the brewing of beer started at this abbey in 1595. Like all Trappist monks, they only brew beer to sustain themselves or to donate the proceeds to charitable foundations.
And similar to the brewery of St Bernardus, the water that's used for brewing Rochefort 10 is drawn from the grounds of the abbey. A long time ago there were attempts to mine minerals from the surrounding area and while digging a little stream became exposed, which was called the Tridaine. This little spring provides the water used in brewing Rochefort 10 and is said to contribute significantly to the taste of the beer. Like most quad Trappists, it's possible to store Rochefort 10 for a significant amount of time whereby the tastes only become more complex.
Rochefort 10 has an alcohol content of 11.3%ABV and is characterised by the blue bottle cap and blue "10" logo on the label. It pours a smooth dark brown colour and has a white / beige head that's not too big. Rochefort 10 has a sweet and deep aroma and there are noticeable flavours of dark fruits, molasses, apple and gentle hop spices. The alcohol is well hidden, despite its high alcoholic content. Nevertheless it has a nice warming effect on the body. Having a Rochefort 10 is the perfect ending to an active day spent outside in the cold.
All in all Rochefort 10 is a fantastic beer best drank slowly to appreciate all complex flavours.
Westmalle Tripel is another official Belgian Trappist, this one again from Flanders. In Belgium it's one of the best selling and most well known Trappist beers, also known as the "mother" of all Trappists. This beer, along with the Westmalle Dubbel and Westmalle Extra comes from the "Onze Lieve Vrouw van het Heilig Hart" abbey in the town of Westmalle, about 30Km from Antwerp in the North of the country. This abbey was founded in 1794
Westmalle Tripel is a beautiful golden-yellow clear blond beer with a long and very nice after taste. Like most Belgian Trappists, this a beer with complex tastes . It has an aroma with fruity touches and noticeable hop scents. Westmalle Tripel is velvety smooth in the mouth, almost creamy and has slight bitterness. This beer keeps fermenting or about 3 weeks after the bottling. It has an alcohol content of 9.5% ABV.
Westmalle Tripel was created in 1934 when a new brewery was installed in the abbey. For over 50 years the recipe of this beer has remained unchanged so having a Westmalle Tripel is really drinking a piece of history. Tastes can vary according to how the beer was stored, the way it is poured, the serving temperature, etc …
This Tripel, like all Westmalle beers, is brewed according to a long standing tradition that dictates only natural ingredients are to be used: pure water, malted barley, hops, the best sugar available and home grown yeast. Westmalle Tripel is therefore a "bio" beer.
La Trappe quadrupel is an official Trappist beer from the Koningshoeven brewery in The Netherlands, which is run by Trappist monks. The brewery at the monastery was founded in 1884. Production of beer here really picked up after WWI but the period after WWII saw a few problems. Like with other breweries in this part of Europe, a lot of the copper tanks has been confiscated by the Germans for use in the war. Eventually the Trappist monks managed to get things going again and started producing some great beers. The La Trappe name was established in 1980s when they started brewing top fermenting ales.
As with other quadrupel beers like the Westvlereren 12 and the St Bernardus Abt 12, this La Trappe Quadrupel is a relatively strong dark ale, with an alcohol content of 10% ABV or more. This is the strongest beer from the La Trappe brewery. It has a beautiful dark amber color with a warm, intense taste which is very well balanced. A lot of the sweetness of this beer is easy to spot and the bitterness is quite discreet.
This is a beer that's flavored with sweet malt and a slightly smokey flavor; it has a pleasant bitter and sweet after taste. The La Trappe Quadrupel still ferments after bottling and also has some fruity flavors like vanilla, banana and almonds. It is best served at its cellar temperature of between 10 - 14°C.
La Trappe Quadrupel was initially only brewed in winter. In this part of Europe, due to the weather there's a tradition of just hunkering down and having a kind of winter sleep. The weather didn't allow for any agricultural activities to be carried out. La Trappe Quadrupel was only brewed during the winter perhaps because a strong quadrupel beer so suits a kind of winter sleep indoors.
Regardless of the weather, La Trappe Quadrupel is a world class Quadrupel trappist that's often a bit obscured by the success of other quadrupel beers. Give it a shot - you might be surprised how it compares to the world's best.