A couple of weeks ago with Val Dieu I looked at the criteria for recognized Abbey Beers and found that only two were actually brewed within the confines of an abbey (one of which has been a ruin since it was destroyed during the French Revoution in 1794).
Next on the most authentic list must be St. Feuillien as the brewery is situated only a few hundred metres away from the site of the original abbey (Abbaye St-Feuillien du Roeulx), founded in 1125.
The abbey was also a victim of the revolution but its name was revived by the Friart family who established their brewery in 1873. The St. Feuillien brewery is now in its fourth generation and the 22nd member of the Belgian Family Brewers; a group which includes, among others Moortgat Duvel, St. Bernard and Het Anker.
Four abbey beers are produced: blonde; tripel; brune reserve and cuvee de noel. I’ve chosen the 8.5% alc. vol. brune, a highly rated dubbel.
The beer pours an amber brown with a medium head. The aroma is sweet and malty with a stewed prune fruitiness. The dark malt and fruit are up front in the taste. There’s a slight acid tang and a dryish,grainy background.
The sweet element mixes with an oaky vanilla and licorice and the fruit unfolds as ripe plum, cherry and date. The bitterness and alcohol are nicely balanced, the carbonatioin is medium and the follow through tends towards dry.
A nice dubbel; try it if you can.
P.S: on the subject of Abbey beers; apart from those officially recognized by the Bière belge d’Abbaye reconnue there are about thirty others who are allowed to call themselves Abbey beers but are not allowed to display the logo as they do not comply with the association’s criteria. Tripel Karmeliet and Abbaye des Rocs are to be found within this grey area of Belgian beer.