Our recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier (“fathers’ beer” in Flemish) in Belgium. These sessionable beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg and contributes to the beer flavor and aroma.
During the last ice age, Spencer was covered by thousands of feet of glacial ice. 18,000 years ago this Laurentide ice sheet began to melt, leaving in its wake freshwater streams, rivers and massive underground lakes. It’s these ancient, mineral-rich glacial waters drawn from protected wells on the abbey’s land that give Spencer Trappist Ale its distinctive character.
We use a mixture of hops, all of which are grown in Washington state’s Yakima Valley. Willamette and Nugget varieties are among our favorites.
The “Spencer Malt Mix” is a proprietary blend of 2 row and 6 row malted barley varieties carefully selected to meet physical and nutritional requirements for optimal brewing of our Trappist ale. A caramel Munich specialty malt from Wisconsin adds color and body to our ale. On September 26, 2013 we planted our first field of barley at the monastery and we plan to collaborate with a local craft malter when our barley harvest meets the quality standards for brewing.
The key to Spencer’s unique aroma, and the ingredient most responsible for the maturation of its “golden center”, is the family yeast variety that we propagate at the monastery. This live yeast is left in the brew—unfiltered, unpasteurized, all natural.