Page 1 - Rochefort 10 Complete
P. 1

Rochefort 10; Age Before Beauty ?

          Do all things improve with age? Well certain characteristics do tend to change with maturity, with various degrees of
          subtlety and acceptability; some for the better, and some arguably for the worse. And so on the occasion of my fairly
          mature 52  birthday, I decided it was time to test out the ageing theory. Not on myself, I hasten to add but on my
          collection of ten bottles of Rochefort 10, a wonderful, flavoursome Trappist beer of a respectable 11.3% abv. I had
          accumulated my collection at the rate of two bottles per year, (one for drinking straight away, and one for saving,)
          going back to the end of the last century.

          So on the  torrentially rainy evening 22  of November 2012, four of us met in the Prince  of Wales brew pub, in
          Foxfield, Cumbria home to the Foxfield brewery. Me and my wife Diane joined our hosts Stuart and Lynda Johnson,
          who kindly provided two more recent samples of the beer, to investigate what effect the aging and maturing process
          had on twelve examples of differently aged bottles of Rochefort 10. Stuart and Lynda run the pub and brewery, and
          are important members of the Cumbrian CAMRA branches tasting panel, assessing and evaluating the huge range of
          beers from the thirty-odd (at the last count...) Cumbrian breweries, with the view of putting the best of them forward
          to ultimately be entered in to the annual CAMRA Champion Beer Of Britain competition. In fact our local Coniston
          brewery has produced the supreme champion beer on two occasions, with Bluebird in 1998, and No. 9 Barley Wine in
          2012, with other local breweries, such as Cumbrian Legendary and Hawkshead, achieving national recognition, too.
          Lynda also provides tutored tastings of beers for any keen beer fans who wish to develop their appreciation and
          understanding of beer flavours and characteristics, both good and bad. Basically Stuart and Lynda know what they
          are talking about when it comes to beer, so it was good to have them involved in such a rare event as tasting and
          appreciating twelve years of Rochefort 10.

          Me  and Diane are both active members of  the  Furness branch of CAMRA (at the  time  of our  tasting, Diane was
          Branch Treasurer). All four of us are big fans of Rochefort 10, regarding it as being one of the world’s top beers.

          Rochefort  10  itself,  as  mentioned  earlier,  is  an  11.3%  abv.  beer,  brewed  by  Trappist  monks,  (and  some  secular
          workers) at Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, in the town of Rochefort, in the Ardennes, Belgium. There are six
          Trappist monastery breweries in Belgium, and one in the Netherlands, and Saint-Remy dates from at least 1230, first
          brewing in 1595, with one or two breaks for wars etc., up to the present day. Apparently the beer is brewed utilising
          Styrian Goldings and German Hallertau hops. Two separate yeast strains are used; one in the initial fermentation
          process, and the other is added to the bottle, along with white crystal sugar, to promote the bottle  conditioning
          process. Two additional beers are produced at the monastery; Rochefort 8 (9.2% abv.) and Rochefort 6 (7.5% abv.)
          the numbers in the names being based on an old Belgian system of degrees of gravity, and which it is said, coincides
          with the number of days each beer type is left to condition in the bottle before being released to the public.

          Researching on the internet, Rochefort 10 appears to be (almost) universally praised to the hilt as a superb example
          of a beer of exceptional quality and taste. Most reviews agree that the beer is dark ruby-brown in colour, with a tan-
          brown head. It is in the descriptions of the aromas and tastes detected in the beer where things get a bit more exotic.
          Rich aromas of sweet malt, dark fruit such as figs and plums, peppery spice, bitter chocolate, brandy cream, and even
          coconut are mentioned, but hop aromas are conspicuous by their absence. Some of the aromas are reflected in the
          overall  taste,  with  sweet  caramel  malt,  ripe  bananas  and  fruity  esters  being  mentioned,  with  pepper,  chocolate,
          fudge, nutmeg and other spices being evident, with only modest but balanced hops adding to an obvious strong
          alcohol hit. I must admit I have probably detected all of these traits in Rochefort 10 at one time or another, and I’m
          certain probably all of the tasting notes I found were based on tasting  relatively young versions of the beer. One
   1   2   3   4   5   6