Tasting the La Trappe Isid’or

The La Trappe Isid’or was brewed in 2009 to honor, and commemorate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the La Trappe Trappist Brewery by friar Isidorus Laaber. The beer was created for the entire world to enjoy, and bears La Tappe’s first Brewmaster’s name. Like all of La Trappe’s beers, the profits from the sale of Isid’or will go directly to charitable causes, this specifically to their co-friars in Uganda to help them set up a community and a self sufficient monastery.

La Trappe (Koningshoeven) has been one of my most favorite breweries since I began drinking real beer – I do consider it an honor to be drinking this beer in La Trappe’s original Brewmaster’s esteemed memory. The Isid’or is classified as a Belgian Pale Ale – I’m not really sure where it belongs though. It is definitely not pale, has rich fruity flavors, but isn’t a Dubbel or Quad. It is 7.5% abv, so its not quite a Belgian Strong Dark Ale either. I don’t really care what beer style this should fit into, because really, I am just happy to be enjoying it.

The Isid’or comes in a Belgian style 330ml bottle, which is just enough to fill a Koningshoeven chalice, and also enough to tease me. I want more! I would love to find this in a 750ml bottle to age. After enjoying it I just imagined how smooth and wondrous it would be with another year or two to mellow and mature in the bottle.

I opened the Isid’or at cellar temperature around 12C (54F) and poured it into a Koningshoeven chalice, one of my favorites. The pour was smooth and gentle but showed rich life immediately as the beer hit the glass. A direct pour created a murky reddish brown beer with flecks of amber gold, brick, bronze and mahogany. A creamy and tightly packed head build up just over an inch with a nutty eggshell color. It’s pretty gorgeous sitting in its chalice – the gold rim on the glass creates a crown for an otherwise kingly beer. Touches of golden brown shine through the center, and into the light it reveals a totally opaque and hazy depth.

The nose is packed with a huge wave of classically Dutch Trappist beer aromas; mulled fruits meet soft spices and earth. It begins with gentle malts showing both pale sweetness and dark richness. Bananas, plums, figs, dates, raisins and grapes are all over the nose with touches of cinnamon, coriander, pepper, all spice, and cloves. Hints of biscuit and apple sauce fade in the back with a gentle balance of floral herbs and a touch of booze. It is tantalizing and mouthwatering already.

It seems so fitting that Monks brewed this beer – even before tasting it you can tell that this is a beer meant to be sipped slowly, and savored. The first sip brought lush and gooey malts to the forefront of my palate showing wide dark fruits and a rustic yeast sensation. What I mean is that the sweet pale and crystal malts come through as a complex and hazy structure, rather than a clean and tight one. This beer has been crafted by the hands of the Monks, and you can tell.

Soft pears, plums, dates and apricots flow through your palate with an earthy backbone, but a silky and creamy texture. Hints of spice, grapes and yeast show up to add fresh flavors and a touch of balance to the Isid’or. Hops are gentle but very floral which, when paired with the esters and grassy aromas of the beer create a genuine sensation of heritage and traditional brewing.

As the beer warms, smoother more elegant malt flavors open with a still floral and earthy flavor. Malts begin to show caramel and melted toffee, and a hint more of bitter hops show up to play. The finish is long and warming creating a uniquely Trappist end to a masterful beer. I loved the smooth and balanced complexity of this beer, but it is the general flavor that had me reaching back for more. I love the richer and deeper Quadrupel, but this Isid’or is a touch more refined in character, but at the same time is much more rustic. Does that make sense?

Just try the beer if you can find it, and don’t share it with any food. While I can think of a great many cheeses, desserts and mains that would work very well with this beer I would argue that it is meant to be savored as a meal itself.

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