The unique beer death match continues with two abbey style beers. While, the La Trappe is the only real Trappist beer which is brewed in the Netherlands, the St. Bernardus beer comes from Belgium. Both beers have exactly eight percent ABV. However, because one is a Dubbel and the other one is a Tripel style of beer, there is quite some difference between them!
First, a little bit of history
The Koningshoeven brewery which produces the La Trappe Tiple is located in Berkel-Enschot in the Netherlands. The brewery operates since 1884 and the profit is used to finance the monastery and other charitable causes. In 1999 the Bavaria brewery took over day-to-day operations from the aging monks which resulted in a dispute with the International Trappist Association. However, a settlement was reached in 2005 and the beer is now again allowed to carry the official Trappist logo. The origin of “Tripel” style ale lies in the Low Countries and is commonly used for a strong pale ale. The Trappist Tripel is a top fermented beer using pale and Munich malts, glucose syrup, hops and yeast. The result is an amber brew with 25 International Bitter Units (IBU).
The St. Bernardus Prior 8 is produced in the brewery with the same name in the Belgian town of Watou. In the late 19th century, monks from the “Abbaye du Monts des Cats” fled there during the anti-clericalism in France and started a cheese factory. When the monks returned to France in 1934 Evarist Deconnick took over the chees factory and also started a brewery. The brewery also began producing Trappist beer when the monks from the St. Sixtus monastery stopped brewing for commercial proposes in 1945. However, in 1992 the licence ran out and meanwhile the remaining Trappist monasteries had decided that only beer produced within the monastery itself was allowed to call itself “Trappist” beer. Therefore, the beer was rebranded as St. Bernardus, inspired by the name of the earlier monastery “Refuge de Notre Dame de St. Bernard”. “Dubbel” beer means that the beer is fermented a second time in the bottle, giving it natural carbonation. The Prior 8 is brewed using malted barley, Hallertauer Magnum and Kent Golding hops, candy sugar and the Sint-Sixtus yeast string for the first fermentation.
Not that easy to drink
With its relatively high ABV and a noticeable bitterness the La Trappe Tripel is quite some beer! Apart from the pure strength, the beer manages to deliver herbal and even some fruity notes. Therefore, it works well when being pared with a herbal spirit like aquavit. My suggestion for a Boilermaker would be the great Dreiling Aqua Vitae. However, the La Trappe seemed a bit unbalanced and I would prefer the Dubbel from the same brewery. On top of that, it of course is kind of nonsense to try to compare a Dubbel with a Tripel beer. Yet, both are abbey style beers, both have exactly eight percent and both brewers had problems with International Trappist Association. However, while the La Trappe is relatively fresh and herbal, the St. Bernardus is darker and puts more emphasis on the malt. You could almost go as far as to say that the Prior 8 has some smoke flavour. It somehow reminded me of a lighter Imperial Stout style of beer and goes very well with a smooth, but complex Bourbon like W.L. Weller 12 Years. If I had to pick one of the two beers as a favourite I would choose the St. Bernardus, because it was well balanced and therefore more drinkable.
The Beercules series has been woefully neglected here on the blog for quite a while now! However, the discovery of the craft and speciality beer isle in my local supermarket gave me a good enough reason to change that! So, join me as I work my way from the top left corner to the bottom right of the shelf. The new overriding theme of this category will be a comparison between two similar beers. First off, we will put two German pale ales head to head.
It’s again time for a new gin! Yet, this one comes in “Navy Strength”. The magic words which set hearts of spirits connoisseurs racing. Apart from that, already the regular Elephant’s Gin won me over completely. So, obviously I was more than curious what the few extra percentages ABV could do! Read more
Well, it is again time to look at a rather underappreciated cocktail ingredient: Calvados! This very traditional French apple brandy is not very popular in bars, but it never fails to give drinks a perfect apple note. This is why I also had the idea to create a cocktail variation of a rather famous drink with it! I admit that the final drink is quite different from the original cocktail, but still, it perfectly showcases what can be accomplished by using calvados Read more
Today I want to take a look at nothing less than a bourbon icon! Maker’s Mark with its red wax seal on the bottle neck was, and still is, the favourite of many bourbon drinkers. However, since a few years there is a new version out there and since a few months it is regularly available here in Germany! On top of slightly higher ABV, the addition to the former singular Maker’s Mark line-up, comes with a new and revolutionary barrel management. Read more
For the first Spirited News of 2017 I am introducing whiskeys from the Spreewood Distillery to you – not gin – for a change! The distillery, formerly know as the Spreewald Distillery, is located in the Spreewald region South of Berlin. The guys behind the renamed and reorganised company now produce a straight rye and a single malt whisky. Both carry colourful labels and pack quite a bit of punch! Read more
It seems like I still cannot stop writing about rum! However, this time we at least take a look at a sugarcane juice based rhum instead of the ones made from molasses. The special thing about the Clement Blanc Canne Bleue 2015 is that it basically is an eau de vie distilled from just one sugarcane variety. On top of that, it also comes as a vintage bottling which is pretty special for an unaged rum. Let’s see how all of this turns out in the taste! Read more
To make the transition from Tiki month to the rest of the year as smooth as possible I decided to stay with rum as a spirits category a little bit longer. The rum I want to introduce to you today is not 18 years old, as you might expect from its label. Rather it is a complex blend of rums, with some part of it being 18 years old. However, what might just sound like the next overly sweet rum, is actually quite the opposite! Read more
Well, the next cocktail in this years Tiki month is more or less a product of chance. Some time ago I was inspired by another drink to infuse red vermouth with chai tea, but at this instance I did not think about using it in a Tiki cocktail. However, when I pondered on which drink to create using the Plantation Rum Jamaica 2002 I luckily remembered the chai vermouth. Of course, there is also a great variation of other liquors in this, so it deserves to be called a Tiki drink! Read more
Yes, I am also presenting a great new rum to you in this article, but the real star is a banana liqueur! Now you might turn up your nose, because you are thinking of artificial coloured and flavoured cheap schnapps. Yet, I will promise you that you will be surprised by this high quality banana flavoured spirit! Apart from that, I will also tell you everything you need to know about the Compagnie Des Indes Tricorne, a rum blend specifically created for mixing! Read more