Kyle’s Files: Trappistes Rochefort 10

This is a problem I’ve experienced before. It’s actually a problem I’ve documented in the past but I guess I never actually learned from it. That problem, you ask? Ignoring beers perpetually residing on local shelves in favor of those that are harder to find, recipients of more hype or ones that are just different. In those cases, outstanding beers, including countless all-time classics, are left to collect dust on store shelves. I remember talking about this problem in regards to my delayed introduction to the Sweetwater line of beers; given my torrid love affair with Sweetwater IPA, such ignorance is laughable now. But there are still plenty of other beers that I’ve just sort of left sitting there while I pursued other, “sexier” offerings. Here’s the thing, though; there are few things sexier than being absolutely blown away by something you have the opportunity to see literally every day. But that becomes a story not so much about beer, so we’ll get things back on track.

(Sidenote: Where in the world have I been? Had to finish up one final semester of college. Now, there's plenty more time for documentation of drinking.)

The previously ignored beer in my glass tonight is Rochefort 10. How could I have possibly gone so long without devoting some quality time to this beer? I mean, it’s everywhere you look. But, as I said above, I guess that’s my problem. I split a fresh bottle with a few friends several years ago and promptly picked up some more for aging. Can you think of a reason why I wouldn’t open one now? Neither can I. The dating code on this bottle reads “011013”. As far as I can tell, that’s a “best before” date of October 1, 2013. If all of my suspicions are correct, this one was bottled on October 1, 2008. It’s sat long enough – let’s open this thing up.

Trappistes Rochefort 10

Brewed by: Brasserie de Rochefort

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

ABV: 11.3%

Serving type: 11.2 oz bottle

Rochefort is one of just a few recognized Trappist breweries. The monks brew three beers on site (Rochefort 6, 8 and 10) and have done so since 1595. In order to be recognized by the International Trappist Association, the beer must be brewed within the walls of the monastery and is not intended for profit-making; instead, the money earned through beer sales covers living expenses for the monks and maintenance to the buildings. And, obviously, the brewery is not the main attraction of the monastery. As a bonus, the glassware is typically fantastic

How does it look?

The pour instantly makes me think of cola or sweet tea; it’s that dark brown color you’ve seen pouring out of countless fountains at countless fast food joints around the country. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of said fast food joints are offering Rochefort 10, certainly not with free refills. That can’t stop a man from hoping, though. What’s interesting to me about Rochefort 10’s color is the orange highlights I see when I hold it up to light. The only problem with holding this beer up to light, though, is that that means I’m not holding it up for consumption. So let’s move on.  There’s a small, tan head that fizzes away quickly without leaving behind much lacing, but that was totally expected given the combination of age and high ABV.

How does it smell?

The aroma is musty and just loaded with dark fruits like figs and raisins that have spent some time soaking in rum. We’re looking at some vanilla and brown sugar in there, too. It seems standard for the style, but elevated. The age has done a little bit to shave off some of the sharp edges, so it’s certainly not as bold in the nose as it would’ve been right off of the delivery truck. I can live with that.

How does it taste?

Remember what I said 15 seconds ago (depending on your reading speed, anyway) about time shaving off the sharp edges? Yeah, five-plus years have done exactly that. This beer is beyond delicious, with absolutely zero negative influences. You get the dark fruit flavors, you get the sweetness, you get the light bitterness; it’s all there. And the sharpest edge shaved off by time is that 11.3% ABV. This is a beer that I didn’t think tasted overly boozy when it was fresh, one of the highest compliments I can hand out to a 10+% ABV beer. It takes a skilled touch to hide a high alcohol content. It’s like trying to sneak a handful of mini-bottles into a movie theater in a T-shirt and khaki shorts; some people know how to do it and some don’t. This beer got past the ushers five years ago. Today? Yeah, we’re not worried about the alcohol at all.

How does it feel?

This beer just absolutely slides down the throat; there’s absolutely nothing about its texture that would make you slow down. I was concerned a bit by how much carbonation was still present when I pried off the cap; I was actually worried I may be looking at a gusher, which then gave birth to paranoia that this beer could somehow be infected. A five-minute rest on my kitchen counter, and it was fine. As mentioned above, the head sitting atop Rochefort 10 was small, reaching maybe a finger, and didn’t stick around long. The carbonation was nice and light on the tongue, fully putting to bed all concerns about this beer’s bubbliness (Is that a word? If not, it’s about to be.).

How does it drink?

How does it drink? I had to slow down so I could write the review before it was gone. Hell, I had to slow down during the third paragraph so I could write the review before it was gone. Rochefort 10 is a timeless classic and an immensely enjoyable drinking experience. When aged properly, it’s an absolute dream. Huge flavors are still there with a perfectly-plush texture and zero objections made by the alcohol. I had always wanted to host some massive quad tasting one night with all of the heavy hitters so that they could be compared against one another, but I don’t think that’s the best way to enjoy them. Instead, I’ll be more than happy to spend an hour (if possible) or so with a Rochefort 10, or Pannepot, or Westvleteren 12, or whatever I else I have in the cellar while giving it my full attention. It’s more than worth it.

Final score: 4.5/5 pints

Thoughts about this beer? Got a suggestion for another one? Let me know in the comment box below!