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Your Beermonger: The Newest Trappist Ale

by ARLnow.com | January 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 404 views | 6 Comments

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)

We’ve looked at Belgian Trappist Ales here before, but I wanted to take a quick moment this week to consider the newest member to the ranks of the official Trappist brewers. News of the addition of Austrian monastery Stift Engelszell to the list of approved Trappist breweries got a little lost last year in the wave of excitement over the impending release of Westvleteren 12. However, while Westy 12 has already come and gone (with none allocated for the District or Virginia) the first of Engelszell’s beers is reaching us now.

Engelszell’s Trappist brewery status was an overnight success story that took just north of 700 years: Founded in 1293, the Abbey was dissolved in the late 18th Century and stood abandoned until Alsatian monks expelled from France during World War I took up residence in 1925. Engelszell Abbey is the only Trappist monastery in Austria; it sustains itself, as all other Trappist orders do, with the sales of their wares. While becoming well-known for their cheese and liqueurs, the International Trappist Association recognized Engelszell with the bestowing of their trademark “Authentic Trappist Product” seal upon Engelszell’s liquor products in 2009. In May of last year, as Engelszell was working to get their brewery operation up and running, the ITA approved of the use of its seal on Engelszell’s beers. This makes Engelszell the eight Trappist brewery, and only the second located outside of Belgium.

That first beer from Engelszell is Gregorious, a strong dark Ale made with local hops and honey. Seeking to avoid the classic styles of Trappist brewing, Gregorious is very smooth, with dark fruit and cocoa notes from its roasted malts along with plenty of sweetness from the honey and mild carbonation. The sweet, smooth feel of Gregorious belies its 9.7% ABV; this is without a doubt a rich beer — a meal unto itself, though I can see it paired with earthy cheeses, nuts, and smoked meats of all kinds. There won’t be a lot of Engelszell beer available at first, as its operation is very small. I’ll only be receiving a couple of cases for Arrowine, with no clue at this point as to how often I should expect to see it. If you happen by some, though, don’t hesitate to try it out. You can be an early-adopter; that’s what people do these days, right?

Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.

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  • Malaka

    I adopted a glass of this at Rustico last week. Not my favourite trappist bee but quite tasty with enough of a sourness (presumably from the wine yeast) to offest the overall sweetness.

    • TheBeermonger

      I’ve seen a lot of comments like that in various reviews: I like that they try to balance the sugars some, and are trying to do something different from the Belgian Trappists.

  • Ben

    Mmm going to Vleteren to drink some Westy soon.

    Can’t wait – just drank my last bottle a month ago to celebrate my friends engagement.

    • TheBeermonger

      Nice. I still haven’t been to Belgium, but it’s high on my list.

      • Ben

        Highly recommend it – the first/last time I went I visited La Chouffe and Fantome breweries (along with Westy) and had a awesome time and met some amazing people.

        The tour at La Chouffe is free for Americans (although it was entirely in French with some of the guide and some of the other takers trying to help translate for me – that was a good time!) and you get two beers, a stamp post card, and a glass.

        The guy who runs Fantome was a great person to meet and a blast to hang out with – although again spoke almost no English.

        Westy – well the adventure is half of the fun of going. You can buy the beer in some of the shops around Brussels and Bruge for a huge markup – like 10~12 euros a bottle. Not cheep but where else will you get it?

        Throw in all of the great food, beer stores, bars etc and it’s a must for any beer lover.

        This time I’m going with my GF and will be visiting some of the Lambrics around the city and of course – going out to Westy :)

        Still want to go back and do a full blown tour and visit some more of the Trappist breweries.

        Thanks for the heads up about Engelszell’s. You carry it in your shop?

        • TheBeermonger

          Got a couple cases today. Not sure what supply’s looking like–their production is tiny. Love hearing about people’s travels. Gonna need to bring my wife to translate the Francophones…

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