Joseph Formanek's picture

La Trappe Oak Aged Quad Batch 25

September, 2017
Judges Rating: 
96
Aroma: 
24 / 24
Appearance: 
5 / 6
Flavor: 
39 / 40
Mouthfeel: 
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

The good brewers at De Koningshoeven have taken their standard La Trappe Quadrupel, which they have brewed since 1991, and have produced special limited edition oak aged versions since 2009.  Each year uses different sources of barrels which are then expertly blended together to deliver a unique offering for each year.  This sample is from Batch 25, blended in August, 2016 (the 25th year of La Trappe Quad brewing), and was evaluated as a 33B Specialty Wood Aged Beer using the 26D Belgian Dark Strong Ale in the 2015 BJCP Guidelines as the base beer.  Beers in the Cat 26D style should deliver a mouth-filling rich aged malt character along with associated Belgian fermentation complexities that expand with age, with the character of the barrels used for the aging adding their own level of complexity for the Cat 33B style.  This offering does not disappoint in that respect.

The aroma has a complexity of sweet raisin, plum, fig, alcohol, vanilla, aged caramel, malt and typical Belgian esters and phenolics.  Very attractive and inviting!  There is a subtle oak character that comes through in the background as well.  The beer pours a hazy brown color with an initially solid off white small bubble head that is fleeting.  This low head retention is quite common for beers of this style.

The flavor mirrors the aroma quite well.  A solid complexity of aged malt and fermentation characters as seen in the aroma come through in the flavor, however, I actually expected more.  This somewhat reduced malt complexity could be due to the aging process used, with a little loss due to the barreling.  Interestingly, the body is on the light side of medium, and the sweetness is also light to moderate, not becoming overly sweet or cloying.  Alcohol is quite evident.  The finish is quite dry for the style, and the aftertaste retains the same flavor characters as is 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.  There is a slight wine-like tartness that works well to add even more complexity.  Carbonation is at a light-moderate level.  Importantly, the oak barrel notes that are present 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 characteristics. 

La Trappe Oak Aged Quadrupel Batch 25 is a quite complex yet amazingly easy to drink offering.  Definitely a keeper and highly recommended, either to partake in now or to cellar for a while for even more complexity.  Cheers and enjoy! 

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