One of Belgium’s great breweries is not resting on the laurels of its already superb lineup of beers. St. Bernardus, of Watou, West Flanders, perhaps best-known for its dark, rich, malty, Abt 12, has just added a fine warm weather session beer to its portfolio.
I had the pleasure of visiting the brewery (for the fifth time since 2002!) on April 22. It was a beautiful sunny spring day in Belgium, a perfect day to taste a new beer. Well, not really new, as the brewery used to make a very similar beer until the 1970’s.
St. Bernardus Extra 4 is the brewery’s new take on a beer that they used to brew, and one that was passed onto them by the famous Brouwerij Westvleteren and its St. Sixtus Abdij van Westvleteren in 1946.
Here is the press release from St. Bernardus:
“Back to the roots: in the summer of 2014, Brewery St. Bernardus will bring one of their oldest beers back to the market.
When the brewery was founded in 1946 to brew and commercialize the beers of the Trappist Monks of Westvleteren, the brewery received 4 recipes from them: Abt 12, Prior 8, Pater 6, and Extra 4.
In the 70’s this ‘Enkel’ or ‘Singel’ style got out of fashion and the production of the Exra 4 was discontinued.
In origin, the Extra 4 was brewed by Monks for their own consumption in Belgium, but this beer seldom sold in Belgium or abroad.
The Extra 4 is brewed in the classic ‘single’ style and is a light gold colored beer with and ABV of only 4.8%. It is a beer of high fermentation, bottle-conditioned and full of flavours. It is brewed with more hops than usual for the other beers of Brouwerij St. Bernardus.
The Extra 4 will be available in limited quantities each year on May 15 for all customers in Belgium and abroad. Available in 33cl bottles and 20 liter kegs.
Did you know: Single or ‘Enkel’ is the base of all Trappist and Abbey Ales. Later a Double and a Tripel were added to the range. These names refer to the amount of malt (x2, x3) that was used in those days to brew this type of beer.” (End press release.)
I found the new Extra 4, with bottles taken right from the warm chamber, to be a highly drinkable, characterful, pleasantly hoppy session beer that I would love to drink a lot of in warm weather. I highly recommend it!
The beer was on offer at the St. Bernardus booth at the Zythos Beer Fest in Leuven on April 26-27, and has an official release date of May 15. We may not see it stateside until June, depending on how long it takes for transport and paperwork.
Thanks to Marco Passarella, Sales and Marketing manager of St. Bernardus, and owner Hans Depypere for giving me a great tour of the brewery, once again!
The beers of St. Bernardus are imported into the U.S.A. by D&V International.
Oh, and there is more big news: a brand new brewhouse is in the works, to be completed this year, and a lot (and I do mean a lot!) of new fermenters have been added recently, so the brewery can increase production. There is a lot going on at St. Bernardus these days!! In fact, there is even more good news for beer lovers, especially about the Abt 12…but I won’t break that news just yet. Watch these pages for updates!
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