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Top 100 Rated Beers of 2017

Delve into the best beers of the year as judged in BC's Official Review.

 

#7

96
by Joseph Formanek
La Trappe Quadrupel Oak-Aged
Trappist Brewery Koningshoeven

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Brewery Impressions
by Brewery Koningshoeven brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
Its fullness and complexity of aromas, and it seems there is a new aroma to discover every time I drink one.

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from?
From the regular La Trappe Quadrupel. As this beer spent over 12 months in oak vessels, we added "Oak-Aged" behind it. La Trappe was the first brewery that brewed a Quadrupel and named it that way; only later did it become an official beer style. 

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
No, I don't think I would survive the island if that was my daily brew! 

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
Strong, sweet beer with lots of oaky, fruity, boozy aromas. 


Judge's Second Opinion
by Joe Formanek

Belgian beer styles have held a warm place in my heart for many years. From the time that I started to appreciate finer beers 30-some years ago, I have typically gravitated towards Belgian-style beers such as Dubbel and Tripel as a special treat. I remember the first time that I ever saw the regular La Trappe Quadrupel and trying it -- I was immediately hooked. I enjoyed this beer tremendously, but I would consider it more of a dessert beer at the time due to a perceived high sweetness level that is further enhanced by the high alcohol content.

Then, in 2009, the brewers at Bierbrouwerji De Koningshoeven took it to the next level and started producing special, limited-edition oak-aged versions of this wonderful elixir. Each batch uses different sources of barrels, which are then expertly blended together to deliver a unique offering. The bottle that I had the honor to evaluate was from Batch 25. This version was blended in August 2016, which happened to be the 25th year of La Trappe Quad brewing, and was considered a 33B Specialty Wood-Aged Beer using the 26D Belgian Dark Strong Ale base in the 2015 BJCP Guidelines. Beers in the Cat 26D style should deliver a mouth-filling, richly aged malt character along with associated Belgian fermentation notes that expand with age. The barrels used for the aging should also add their own characteristics to the finished product. This beer hit the mark extremely well in all of these aspects, delivering a delicious treat for the senses from start to finish.

From the second that you pop the cork, the rich aromatic complexities of sweet raisin, plum, fig, alcohol, vanilla, aged caramel, malt, oak, Belgian esters and phenolics are all readily apparent and inviting. There are a lot of words needed in order to capture the complex essence of this aroma.

The flavor mirrors the aroma quite well, with a moderate level of the aged malt and fermentation characters noted in the aroma coming through in the flavor. The medium body and rather low level of sweetness for style -- along with a slight wine-like tannin note and light-moderate carbonation -- combined allow for a dangerously easy-drinking brew considering the level of alcohol present! The finish is quite dry for the style, and the aftertaste retains the same flavor characters this beer conveys up front, but it is quite warming due to the alcohol presence. The alcohol is mainly good old ethanol – not a lot of higher fusel alcohols present. As mentioned in my earlier review, the oak barrel notes that are present do marry well with the character of the beer, never becoming a predominant flavor.

Putting it all together, the overall package delivers a remarkably smooth drink for the style while still maintaining those delicious Belgian Quad flavor complexities. Importantly, the perception of sweetness seen in the standard Quad is reduced in this Batch 25 Oak Aged Quad, thereby helping the drinkability and overall enjoyment. La Trappe Oak Aged Quadrupel Batch 25 is definitely a keeper and is highly recommended, either to partake in now or to cellar for future enjoyment. This is a live beer and further aging could deliver even more deliciousness! Cheers and enjoy!


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worthel's picture
So,I'm a member, but I must pay another two bucks to read the rest of this article? Are you kidding?
Editorial Dept.'s picture
Hello Worthel, Our magazine articles are premium content and are reserved for premium subscribers. We researched your account and it does not appear you have purchased a premium subscriptions. If you feel this is in error, you may complete a customer service ticket by clicking "account services" at the head of the website. Cheers! BC

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Comments

worthel's picture
So,I'm a member, but I must pay another two bucks to read the rest of this article? Are you kidding?
Editorial Dept.'s picture
Hello Worthel, Our magazine articles are premium content and are reserved for premium subscribers. We researched your account and it does not appear you have purchased a premium subscriptions. If you feel this is in error, you may complete a customer service ticket by clicking "account services" at the head of the website. Cheers! BC

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