Beer: Trappistes Rochefort 10
Brewery: Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy (Rochefort, Belgium)
Style: Belgian Quadrupel
11.3% ABV / 27 IBU
There will be no bombshells or revelations here: Trappistes Rochefort 10 is one of the finest beers in the world. This Belgian Quadrupel—known for its distinctive blue cap—is a 2x gold medal winner at the World Beer Championships and currently sports perfect “100” scores on the Beer Advocate and RateBeer websites. It is a joy to drink straight from the 330ml bottle or in a wider mouthed tulip glass, where you can admire the beer’s rich caramel color and experience a resplendent warming effect that’s unusual for non-barrel aged beers.
Although monks at the Rochefort Abbey have been brewing beer consistently since 1899, Trappistes Rochefort 10 (the name refers to the beer’s original gravity in the archaic Belgian system of degrees) is the relative newcomer, with a recipe developed in 1952. In a sense, it’s one of the original craft beers, handmade by artisans that have been perfecting their techniques for decades. Like a lot of Belgian beers, this one is top-fermenting and features the Rochefort Abbey’s own strain of yeast. It also features water drawn from the well at the Abbey. Like a New York bagel, the character of the water (and specifically the mineral composition of that water) is crucial; you can’t make a beer like this without it.
Other than the proprietary yeast strain and the well water, the other major innovation with Trappistes Rochefort 10 was the introduction of candy sugar, which is added to the wort. The sugar plus the barley malt makes for a fanciful sweetness that evokes cherries, plums, figs, and dates. But there’s also some spiciness, partly from the hops but more from the coriander, the essential spice in Indian cuisine that seems to sneak into every Trappist brew. Celebrated beer guru Michael Jackson (not that one) described this Belgian quad as being both food at drink. It is more than just science or magic; it is extraordinary.
For more info, check out Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy here.