The beers of Abbaye St-Remy, Rochefort, are packed with extreme flavors but each is melded into perfect balance.
Rochefort 8, or “Green Cap,” is brown coloured with red highlights. The flavor is deep, vigorous and complex, with firm body to support the strength; the aroma has elusive notes of fresh fruit, spice, leather, figs, and just possibly a hint of smokiness in cascading layers. Suave, or “wild and unrestrained,” this is a full-bodied, rich ale with alcohol at 9.2% abv.
World Beer Championships Gold Medal 2004, 2006
The ales made by the Trappist monks of the Notre Dame de Saint-Remy abbey of Belgium are simply a joy to consume. The Trappist brewery that produces the Rochefort ales is located near the town of Rochefort, which is east of Namur. The quietness of this abbey is so overwhelming it is eerie, but this is the way the leading abbot and the monks prefer their lives.
Saint-Remy started in the early 1200’s as a convent and became a monastery in 1464. Late in the 1500’s, the monks there started to make their ales. Today, the brewing monks use Pilsener malts, Munich malts, and a little dark candy sugar thrown in for good measure. Golding and Hallertau hops are used for bittering and aroma. As with most Belgian beers of deep complexity, Rochefort contains a complex blend of two yeast strains, both in the primary fermentation and in the bottles.
Rochefort ale goes against the Trappist tradition somewhat by not offering Dubbels and Tripels. Rather, the three main Rochefort beers seem to be very similar to each other with variable body and strength among them. The different beers are conveniently named by a simple numbering system. All the other Rochefort beers have a head that is both thick and creamy. The colour of this beer’s vary from dark brown, medium brownish to beautiful cooper, and the aroma is earthy, sweet, and somewhat fruity. The flavor is complex with caramel, fruit, and hints of raisins.
These beautiful beers are examples of the rich ales that sustained many Monks through the fasting’s of Lent long ago. The Trappist ales, especially those produced by the monks near Rochefort, are all truly works of art. They are drinks not meant to quench a thirst, but to enrich a soul.