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Alternative naming: Trappist Single
Overall Impression: A blond, bitter, hoppy table beer that is very dry and highly carbonated. The aggressive fruity-spicy Belgian yeast character and high bitterness is forward in the balance, with a soft, supportive grainy-sweet malt palate, and a spicy-floral hop profile.
Aroma: Medium-low to medium-high Belgian yeast character, showing a fruity-spicy character along with medium-low to medium spicy or floral hops, rarely enhanced by light herbal or citrusy spice additions. Low to medium-low malt backdrop, with bready, crackery, grainy, or light honey notes. Fruit expression can vary widely (apple, pear, grapefruit, lemon, orange, peach, apricot). Phenols are typically like black pepper or clove. Bubblegum inappropriate.
Appearance: Pale yellow to medium gold color. Generally good clarity, with a moderate-sized, persistent, billowy white head with characteristic lacing.
Flavor: Initial malty flavor is light and has a honeyed biscuit, bready, or cracker character. Grainy but soft malt palate, and a crisp, dry, hoppy-bitter finish. Moderate spicy or floral hop flavor on the palate. Moderate esters similar in character to aroma. Light to moderate spicy phenols as found in the aroma. Medium to high bitterness, accentuated by dryness. The yeast and hop character lasts into the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Smooth. Medium-high to high carbonation, can be somewhat prickly. Should not have noticeable alcohol warmth.
Comments: Often not labeled or available outside the monastery, or infrequently brewed. Might also be called monk’s beer, Brother’s beer, or simply a Blond (we don’t use this term to avoid confusion with the very different Belgian Blond Ale style). Highly attenuated, generally 85% or more.
History: While monastic breweries have a tradition of brewing a lower-strength beer as a monk’s daily ration (Westmalle began making theirs in 1922), the bitter, pale beer this style describes is a relatively modern invention reflecting current tastes. Westvleteren first brewed theirs in 1999, but it replaced older lower-gravity products.
Style Comparison: Like a top-fermented Belgian interpretation of a German Pils – pale, hoppy, and well-attenuated, but with a strong Belgian yeast character. Has less sweetness, higher attenuation, less character malt, and is more hop-centered than a Belgian Pale Ale. More like a much smaller, more highly-hopped Belgian Tripel (with its bitterness and dryness) than a smaller Belgian Blond Ale.
Commercial Examples: Chimay Gold, La Trappe Puur, Russian River Redemption, St. Bernardus Extra 4, Westmalle Extra, Westvleteren Blond