With 11.3% alc. Vol, Rochefort 10 is the strongest of the Trappist quads and some would also say the best. Why haven’t I reviewed it until now? Somehow the bottle was pushed right to the back of the shelf as if it was trying to gain itself a bit of time.
Maybe I had learnt from Westvleteren 12; after my disappointment with the first bottle I opened, the remaining few bottles were also pushed well back to mature a bit. So for now the challenge is only two way; with St Bernardus 12.
The Rochefort and the St Bernardus look similar, dark brown with a thick beige head.
First the Rochefort; a spicy alcohol is quite apparent, as is a caramel sweetness and bags of fruit; first ripe plums and raisins and then a more delicate ripe melon. Package this with yeasty dark bread aromas and you know what to expect from the tasting. The maltiness and a clove spiciness were more to the fore with the St B. and the fruit a shade less complex.
It was this clove bitterness that set the beers apart with the taste.; coming up even before the brown sugar and malt sweetness in the St B. and then followed by a wide range of ripe fruit tastes which slowly blend with the alcohol and esters. As with last time it gave a pronounced sherry feel.
The Rochefort spiciness is more peppery than clove, the rich fruit seems to have been soaked in rum and the esters tend more towards the medicinal than the fruity.
The sweetness is well balanced in both and the mouthfeel is very smooth. So which is better?
The beers are both so complex it’s difficult to answer; if you like the clove up front and rich sherry later then go for the St. Bernardus; otherwise toss a coin or, for those who always take a second helping of Christmas pudding, go for the Rochefort.
Happy beer drinking!