Brewery: Stift Engelszell (Austria)
Style: Belgian Quad
10.5% ABV / N/A IBU
There are currently 11 breweries recognized by the International Trappist Association and allowed to market their beers as “Authentic Trappist Products.” Typically, the rules stipulate that the beer must be brewed within the walls of the monastery and be a non-profit enterprise that does not interfere with the monastic life. At current writing, the band Trappist is not an officially recognized member of the International Trappist Association. Stift Engelszell is, and they’re kind of a big deal – they were the first brewery initiated into the ITA after the core cadre, and they’re the only member of the group located in Austria.
It’s worth noting that Stift Engelszell’s overall annual production is a mere fraction of what the big guns in the ITA – Westmalle Brewery, Chimay Brewery, De Koeningshoven Brewery, Orval Brewery – are able to churn out. As a result, Stift Engelszell really only regularly produces three beers: a Belgian pale ale (Nivard), a dubbel (Benno), and a quad (Gregorius). The latter is Stift Engelszell’s flagship brew and is fairly unheralded, but I would argue that it’s every bit as essential as Chimay, Orval, and La Trappe. Gregorius is an exemplar of the Belgian quad/quadrupel style, with a super malty and slightly fruity flavor and a dark amber color to match.
I especially dig that Gregorius is not cloyingly sweet like some Grand Cru beers or aggressively spicy like some Belgian strong ales, both of which often get lumped in with Belgian quads. The Platonic ideal of the quad is more like Gregorius: toothsome, with a hint of sweetness from the honey introduced during the brewing process, and an equally wooly finish – it coats your palette like a barleywine. It’ll make your head and spine tingle simultaneously. If Trippels go to 10, Quads take it to 11. Derek Smalls approves of this analogy, even if Rochefort Brewery (which categorizes its quad as a “10”) would not.