It used to come to the LCBO each year for the Christmas release, and I always would buy at least ten bottles. The Koningshoeven Quadrupel, which is now known as La Trappe Quadrupel is without a question among the best beers I have ever had, and close to the best, if not the best Quadrupel that I am aware of.
It is bursting with rich malty complexity, huge distinct fruit flavors, layers of spice, chocolate, herbs and hops, and has a most satisfying and amazing mouthfeel. Unfortunately I have not seen it in Ontario since the winter of 2007, but they are still available scattered through the United States mostly bearing the La Trappe brand.
Trappist are always exciting to me, they are rich in history, brewed with only the finest ingredients, and are really the purest form of craft beer. The monks who brew the beer have no consideration for marketing, competitor research, market demand or profits. They are brewing beers to sustain themselves nutritionally during the lent season, and to provide a source of income for the Abbey’s charitable causes. Their only focus then is on brewing rich and full flavored beers which are magnificently delicious and supremely nutritious.
Since 1884 monks at the Koningshoeven Abbey have been brewing Trappist beers for self sustainment and to generate revenue for the Monastery’s operation. “When they live by the labor of their hands, then they are really monks.” This is the sentiment by Benedict, the architect of Western monasticism; it places a very strict guideline determining who can consider themselves a true Trappist brewery. In fact, Koningshoeven is one of only seven authentic Trappists that exist today, and the only one outside of Belgium (Koningshoeven is located in Holland).
You can tell an authentic Trappist beer from an Abbey brewed beer by looking for the “Authentic Trappist” logo printed on the bottle, usually somewhere on the back label. There are many Abbey breweries in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, and other counties brewing incredible beer; not being recognized as an authentic Trappist in no way means that their beers are inferior, it only means that they do not meet all of the specific requirement which must strictly be met to be a Trappist brewery.
Koningshoeven does fall into the Authentic Trappist category, and as I have mentioned, they brew one of my most prized beers. Their Quadrupel is 10% abv and is available in 750ml and 341ml bottles. It should be served at cellar temperature around 10 degrees Celsius (50F) and served in a shallow wide chalice similar to their own if possible.
The Quad pours smoothly with subtle carbonation but mounds of dense creamy white head build richly over the beer. An aggressive pour will yield as much as three or four inches of foam, but pour gently and you will achieve a perfectly balanced and dense one inch creamy white head with strong staying power.
The beer is shimmering golden amber and burgundy in the heart, glowing towards the outer edged with red, orange and light yellows. It is deep and wide with dark ruby, but also transparent and perfectly crisp in appearance with constant carbonation roaring from the depths of the beer.
The nose is ripe with dark ripe fruits – prunes, figs, dates, peaches, banana, and plum all show themselves upfront. Warm malt is very obvious on the nose and candy sweetness comes out in the center as well. A berry tart ring fades in with some soft notes of alcohol and almost zero bitterness. It appears exceptionally round and balanced, and very exciting.
Once you get into this beer the most obvious characteristic is its elegance and refined beauty. The mouthfeel is sublime; it glides over your palate filling your mouth evenly with each and every subtle flavor and aromatic sensation. Carbonation is delicate not brash, and helps bring flavors directly to your taste buds.
Round full malts come first to your tongue showing juicy fruits like stewed pears, soft prunes, plums, figs and dates. The malt is very layered showing banana and rum as well. Mild spice flows across your cheeks while clove and cinnamon tickle the roof of your mouth and throat. Raisins float by briefly as a wind of round bitter chocolate and tobacco appear to aid the harmony. Also showing up to the party are strawberries and mashed raspberries.
The finish is sweet, soft and silky with lingering full flavors. The Quad is so full and complex, but its distinct flavors are rounded so perfectly it really create a unique and graceful beer. This beer is a magnificent achievement and should be appreciated; without a question it has provided me with some of the greatest beer drinking experiences that I have ever enjoyed.