Tasting: June 24,2012
Monks truly do brew beer. If it’s brewed within the walls of a “certified” monastery by monks, it can be called “Trappist”. At the time of this post, there are only six certified Trappist breweries in the world – five in Belgium, one in France. The term “abbey” may mean it’s brewed by monks and it may be brewed within the walls of a monastary, but more than likely there is some outside influence. Abbey ale isn’t’ a protected term and can be used by any brewery. Monks first brewed beer as “liquid bread” for fasting yet they turned their bread into bread to fund their charitable works.
To most Belgian beer enthusiasts, the Holy Grail of Trappist ales would be the brews of the St. Sixtus monastery in Westvleteren, Belgium. Consistently their Westvleteren XII 93 Points is rated the best beer in the world. For years, there was one major hurdle – they only sold it at the monastery. Last year, the monks needed to raise additional capital for building repair so they exported gift boxes to the United States. I’m sure I didn’t see any in my local store. If you did, congratulations.
St. Bernadus is a monastery in Belgium but it is said that the recipes used by the St. Bernadus monks closely resemble those of St. Sixtus. So, if you can’t visit Westvleteren, Belgium a reasonable facsimile may exist on shelves right in your own neighborhood. I’m a fan of Abt 12 so, I was curious about Pater 6. A pater or paterke is a term for a chestnut colored ale with a high ABV. In this case the alcohol by volume is 6.7% and yes, it does pour a chestnut brown color with a very fizzy head and body. My first sip impression is that same fizziness. Bread, raisins, white wine, spice and some alcohol burn. Call me picky but the carbonation disagrees with me. But, I have enough interest to put it at 86 points.