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Posted August 15, 2012 by Kevin in Eats & Drinks
 
 

The Rochefort Flight – A Trio of Belgian Trappist Ales

The Rochefort Flight – A Trio of Belgian Trappist Ales
The Rochefort Flight – A Trio of Belgian Trappist Ales

The latest visit to my local beer emporium led to some good finds, including a small selection of Belgian Trappists from Rochefort.  I had the 8 a few times in the past, and always felt that it was an exceptional brew.  So, I picked up three offerings:  the 6, 8 and 10 for a back-to-back comparison.  A few days later, my wife and I were enjoying a Rochefort flight, starting with the 6 and finishing with the 10.

What surprised me with this trio is that, despite these beers covering styles from Belgian Strong Dark Ale through Belgian Quad, they all had a clear house flavor, appearance, and character.  All of them poured out of the bottle with a dark caramel color and a foamy, if short, lasting head.  All have a spicy, yet fruity, character and a complex finish with very little hop presence – as it should be with these styles.  Because of the complexity of these beers, none of them had an overly pronounced alcohol character.  It seems the mission of this family of Trappist beers is to dominate the palate with dark peppery spices, earthy undertones and lots of fruit and fig presence.   That said, there are of course differences between them evident after pouring and enjoying.  And about that pour: Be careful with the yeast at the bottom of these bottles.  It sits quite loosely and if you aren’t careful it will end up in your glass.

The first one up was the 6, coming in at 7.5% ABV and falling within the style guidelines of Belgian Strong Dark Ale.  At this point I was going on my memory of the 8 from weeks back, but I felt this beer was lighter in comparison.  While the characteristics mentioned above were present, it was as if everything was bumped down a notch.  Also it seemed there was a faint hint of banana that I hadn’t remembered from the 8.  Although I drank this beer without food, I wished I had something to go with it.  A pear salad came to mind as a good match.  Maybe next time.

Next came the 8 and – true to my recollection – it was a fantastic experience.  This one seems to get everything right.  It keeps the complexity of the 6, but everything is intensified.  According to the beer style guidelines, this beer falls into the Belgian Dubbel category with an ABV of 9.20%.  It has huge complexity, with lots of malt and brown sugar presence.  This is a big beer that can be enjoyed by itself – just drink and enjoy!

Lastly we sampled the 10, a Belgian Quad at 11.3% ABV.  11.3% is a big number for any beer and, since Belgian Quads don’t have a notable hop presence, it can be easy for an alcohol content like that to overpower a beer.  Not so with this brew.  Once again Rochefort has bumped up the maltiness, complexity, fruit and spice in this beer to come after the palate with force.  The first sip might show a bit of alcohol presence, but the rest of the glass tames nicely.  Like the 8, the dark sugars are there, but are even more pronounced.  While I was fine drinking this beer alone, I might consider having it with some cheese or even with a dessert.  It certainly would go nicely with anything chocolate.

So do we have a winner?  To me the 8 comes out a touch ahead of the other two, especially as a stand-alone beer.  I just couldn’t think of anything I would change.  The 10 is also a fantastic beer but the intensity of that brew may become a bit overpowering towards the end of the glass if it isn’t paired with food.  While I don’t have a gripe with the 6 at all, the 8 and 10 simply stole the show in this comparison.  Overall you can’t go wrong with any of these.  This is an exceptionally well-balanced family of beers.  I highly recommend picking up a bottle (or three).  Cheers!

About the Contributor: Kevin has been drinking and brewing beer for more than 20 years, and enjoys re-capping the interesting craft and micro-brews that find their way into his glass.  Feel free to contact him at kevin@kevinferry.com to talk favorites, but hold back on the technical questions – he sees himself as more of a beer nerd than a beer expert. 


Kevin

 
Kevin has been drinking and brewing beer for more than 20 years, and enjoys re-capping the interesting craft and microbrews that find their way into his glass. Feel free to contact him at kevin@whopperjaw.net to talk favorites, but hold back on the technical questions – he sees himself as more of a beer nerd than a beer expert.