Spencer, the new American Trappist

Published on December 11, 2013.

After years in planning, the USA finally has a Trappist beer. It’s official.

Spencer Trappist Ale, from St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, officially became an Authentic Trappist Product as of yesterday, December 10. “At a meeting yesterday of the International Trappist Association in Brussels, the Spencer Trappist Ale was awarded the ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ designation,” François de Harenne, Commercial Director of the Orval Trappist brewery, told me in a message today. “The decision was made after several controls made on the premises during the last weeks,” Harenne stated. “We also were lucky enough to taste the beer yesterday,” he remarked.

It is the I.T.A. that decides who to award the prestigious “Authentic Trappist Product” logo and designation for products produced by Trappist Abbeys. I wrote an article for the I.T.A. in the spring of 2012 about why non-Trappist beers should not be labeled as ‘Trappist’: “The meaning and proper use of the word “TRAPPIST” as it relates to beer and other products.” You can read it here.

Spencer Trappist Ale, St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts.

Spencer Trappist Ale, St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts.

So, done deal. The USA has a Trappist brewery. Now, to get a bottle and taste the beer….

The label of the Spencer Trappist ale.

The label of the Spencer Trappist ale.

The back label of the Spencer Trappist Ale.

The back label of the Spencer Trappist Ale.

The label proudly states “American Trappist” and “Pair with Family and Friends.” The beer is blond with 6.5% abv. Look for a full write up as more details become available. Also of note is that the label states the beer contains 11.2 fluid U.S. ounces, or 33 cl of beer, which is the same size used by most of the Trappist breweries in Europe, rather than the 12 fluid ounce/355 ml size that is most common here in the U.S. Perhaps they are using bottles produced in Europe.

St. Joseph’s Abbey has been producing a line of fine Trappist Preserves for many years. I’m a big fan of the Red Raspberry Seedless Jam, Blackberry Seedless jam, and Burgundy Wine Jelly. They have 30 different jams and preserves, so there are plenty to choose from. If the Spencer Trappist beer is as good as the jams are, we are all in for a real treat.

The brewery website is: http://www.spencerbrewery.com.

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  2. I’m looking for all Trappists in the world for a mates 50th birthday at teh beginning of May. Only one I don’t have is Spencer. Is anyone going to Massachusetts or knows anyone who can send me one, or two?
    yours sincerely

  3. Chuck, I promised to send someone who lives near Orval some Spencer beer. Any recommendations on shipping beer to Belgium??

  4. Hi,
    Living in Belgium and being a beer lover, especially Trappist, is there any where I can buy it this side of the pond?

    • Hello Antony,

      I do not know of any places where you can buy Spencer Trappist in Europe as yet. Your best bet might be to ask a someone to bring you a bottle from the U.S. Currently, the beer is available in Massachusetts.

  5. I grew up in the area and was just back to visit recently. I brought a case of the beer home with me to Virginia. It’s truly outstanding.

    The brewery is not open to the public and they don’t have a tasting room. It’s a state of the art brewery with the capacity to brew 40,000 barrels a year, but initially they are only brewing 4,000. Distribution appears to be within Mass. only at the moment. The monks run the business only to be self-supporting, so I doubt they’re going to expand anytime soon. I don’t expect to see it on tap, either, though that could certainly change.

    There was a recent article about the brewery in Brew Your Own magazine that gives some of the background about the brothers learning the craft from their Belgian brethren, as well as the advice they received. They were asked by the other Trappists to start with one beer and to perfect it before considering expanding. They’re brewing a patersbier (“fathers’ beer”) designed for drinking at the dinner table.

    They won’t reveal the source of the yeast they’re using. While it has now developed into a house yeast, it almost certainly came from Belgium. I’ve heard a number of rumors and suppositions, but they aren’t worth repeating since they cover the gamut of Trappist breweries.

    Read any of the top rated reviews on Beer Advocate and that pretty much sums up my tasting experience.

  6. Live in North Carolina now but heading back up to Massachusetts to visit family in May . I would like to know what stores I might be able to buy some of your beer . Happy for you wishing you all the best.

    • Just bought a 4pack at Kappy’s Liquors in Peabody Mass. Across from the North Shore Mall. I presume it would also be available at Kappy’s on Rt. 1 in Revere.

  7. Great blog. Here is some more fodder if interested:

    This has been a hot topic for the NE beer community. Spencer Brewery is the only Trappist brewery in the US and located in middle MA and they are now releasing their inaugural brew on Tuesday. Every retailer I have called in MA has this at $18 a 4-pack. I did find a retailer offering this not only pre-sale and at the lowest price in the state by far, 14.95 and they will DELIVER it to you SAME DAY (wtf?).


    This is a rather expensive release (I know Chimay wants to amortize this quickly but this better be delish for $18 bucks)!

  8. Hello, I grew up in Spencer on Ash St. I now reside on Orcas Island Wa. and own Cafe Olga, I am so happy for you and 1000% interested in carying your beer and would be proud to share to all my Northwest patrons a little bit of my home town. I am so excited for you. Please let me know how I can purchase your product. Congrats! Bobby Olmsted

  9. Hi there, I wondered if you have any information on where I can buy the new Spencer beer? My husband is a huge fan of beers like this, it’s his birthday coming up and I would love to get him some! Thanks.

  10. We contacted Spencer Brewery in regards to their planned distribution channels… here is their response:

    “Hello Belgian Beer Journal,

    Thank you for contacting us and for your interest in our brewery. We will only be selling the beer in Massachusetts for now. The plan is to have the beer in bottles on shelves starting January 15th, 2014 at select retailers. However, we do not know when and if we could expand to California. We will updating our Facebook with all news, including new distribution, so we’ll keep you posted.

    All the best,

    PS. We’re a big fan of your journal. Thank you for all of your support and kind words, it means a lot to us.”

    So the people on the East Coast will be the first!!!!!!!!!

  11. Outstanding news! I’ve been waiting for this since I heard the Spencer Abby was installing brewery equipment.

    I know a whole group of homebrewers who are waiting to taste this beer.

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    • Hi Deborah,

      This beer and news are brand new, so the beer is not yet available in any retail stores or bars.

      I’ll post more info as it becomes available.

  17. Any idea if they have a tasting room to visit? I wonder what their initial distribution will be. Since it probably won’t hit the western US for some time, I’m thinking a trip to Boston may be in order. 🙂

  18. Spencer Trappist Ale officially recognized as ‘Authentic Trappist Product’ | BeerPulse

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