Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
We’ve looked at Belgian Trappist Ales here before, but I wanted to take a quick moment this week to consider the newest member to the ranks of the official Trappist brewers. News of the addition of Austrian monastery Stift Engelszell to the list of approved Trappist breweries got a little lost last year in the wave of excitement over the impending release of Westvleteren 12. However, while Westy 12 has already come and gone (with none allocated for the District or Virginia) the first of Engelszell’s beers is reaching us now.
Engelszell’s Trappist brewery status was an overnight success story that took just north of 700 years: Founded in 1293, the Abbey was dissolved in the late 18th Century and stood abandoned until Alsatian monks expelled from France during World War I took up residence in 1925. Engelszell Abbey is the only Trappist monastery in Austria; it sustains itself, as all other Trappist orders do, with the sales of their wares. While becoming well-known for their cheese and liqueurs, the International Trappist Association recognized Engelszell with the bestowing of their trademark “Authentic Trappist Product” seal upon Engelszell’s liquor products in 2009. In May of last year, as Engelszell was working to get their brewery operation up and running, the ITA approved of the use of its seal on Engelszell’s beers. This makes Engelszell the eight Trappist brewery, and only the second located outside of Belgium.
That first beer from Engelszell is Gregorious, a strong dark Ale made with local hops and honey. Seeking to avoid the classic styles of Trappist brewing, Gregorious is very smooth, with dark fruit and cocoa notes from its roasted malts along with plenty of sweetness from the honey and mild carbonation. The sweet, smooth feel of Gregorious belies its 9.7% ABV; this is without a doubt a rich beer — a meal unto itself, though I can see it paired with earthy cheeses, nuts, and smoked meats of all kinds. There won’t be a lot of Engelszell beer available at first, as its operation is very small. I’ll only be receiving a couple of cases for Arrowine, with no clue at this point as to how often I should expect to see it. If you happen by some, though, don’t hesitate to try it out. You can be an early-adopter; that’s what people do these days, right?
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