June 18, 2009
Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend
Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend is a quadrupel ale from Brewery Ommegang.
Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale inspired by the Trappist brewers of Belgium. It's meant to have a bolder flavor than Dubbel and Tripel (makes sense, right?) styles.
Three Philosophers is a good, complex beer - a belgian-style ale mixed with Lindeman's Kriek Lambic, which adds a nice cherry flavor to the chocolate and caramel malt flavor of the ale.
It comes in strong at 9.8% ABV. In my mind, that makes it a beer to sip, almost like a liquer, rather than one that you'll constantly be reordering. Also (and again, this is for me) the cherry flavor gets to be a little much and I can't see drinking it for an entire night. I think this would make a nice substitution for a dessert wine (port), if you're looking for one.
I think the history of the Trappists is interesting. The Trappist order came to be in 1664 when the Abbot of La Trappe felt that the Cistercians were becoming too liberal. Wanting to bring some order back to the abbey, he introduced stricter rules, and so the Strict Observance was born.
Trappist monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict. Monks have long brewed beer as a means of feeding their community, in an act of self-sufficiency. They've also produced cheese, bread and other items, including clothing. In this way they are following a rule from the 48th Chapter that states "for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands". Contrary to popular belief, they do not take a vow of silence, although they do typically only speak when necessary.
There are certain criteria that must be met in order for a beer to be called Trappist. These criteria are:
** The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under the control of Trappist monks
** The brewery and what is chosen to be brewed must be determined by the monastic community
** All proceeds from the brewing of the beer must be used for assistance purposes and not for financial gain
It's also good to know that Trappist isn't a type of beer, but rather a designation given to a beer that meets the above criteria.
Currently, there are 7 recognized Trappist breweries - 6 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands.
If any of this has piqued your interest in meeting a Trappist Monk you're in luck if you live in Philadelphia (or will be in town on Tuesday, June 23). Monk's Cafe is hosting a meet and greet with Abbot Izaak from La Trappe from 5 - 7 pm. This is the Abbot's first-ever stop in America, and it's sure to be a special event.