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Other than Brewing => The Pub => Topic started by: pete b on May 15, 2022, 06:22:29 am

Title: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 15, 2022, 06:22:29 am
The monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer Ma announced yesterday that they have decided that brewing is not a viable business for them going forward and are closing Spencer Brewery.
This is a loss to the beer world and I am a little extra sad because I grew up near the Abbey and have some connections to it.
They still have beer in stores so I am going to stock up, especially on their Quad which I love in the colder months.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: BrewBama on May 15, 2022, 07:14:28 am
Though I am not a huge fan of Belgian Beer, I am sad to see the brewery close.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 15, 2022, 07:24:46 am
They actually don’t exclusively make Belgian styles. They have a Pilsner I like, they do a NEIPA and more.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: denny on May 15, 2022, 08:23:36 am
Which points out once again that brewing is first and foremost a business.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: reverseapachemaster on May 15, 2022, 08:58:04 am
I was just thinking at a bottle shop the other day that I should buy some of their beers after realizing I've never tried anything from them. That's surprising because I'm a big fan of Belgian beers. I guess I really need to go buy their beers before it's too late.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: joe_meadmaker on May 15, 2022, 10:07:50 am
I hadn't heard this yet.  Thanks for posting.  Sad news.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: majorvices on May 15, 2022, 02:00:05 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: denny on May 15, 2022, 02:05:15 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.

Well, some of us are!  But, yeah, not the trendy style any more.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: narvin on May 15, 2022, 02:22:21 pm
Too bad, I never had the chance to visit. 
Title: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: BrewBama on May 15, 2022, 02:26:45 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
I haven’t had a lot of hazy IPA but I like them. Tons of hop flavor without the bitterness. I can see the attraction. They’ve always been an out on the town beer for me but I need to learn to brew one.

I can’t stand sour beers and I didn’t like Belgian beers even while visiting Belgium. I always attributed it to not choosing the right ones.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: Megary on May 15, 2022, 04:36:27 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.

I like Hazies and I like Belgians.  But I’ve had far more awful, undrinkable Belgians than NEIPA’s.  I’ve also had a few Belgians that were otherworldly, though I can’t say I’ve ever experienced the same magic with a hazy.  My two cents.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: fredthecat on May 15, 2022, 04:40:45 pm

I haven’t had a lot of hazy IPA but I like them. Tons of hop flavor without the bitterness. I can see the attraction. They’ve always been an out on the town beer for me but I need to learn to brew one.

I can’t stand sour beers and I didn’t like Belgian beers even while visiting Belgium. I always attributed it to not choosing the right ones.

truly, i've found out that people's tastebuds are different. not just "i like X/dont like Y" but they actually perceive things differently. so i wouldnt imagine or try to change anyone's mind on their choice in beer.

i get a tannins and hop-burn from hazy IPAs and simply don't like a lot of aspects about them.

i like belgians a lot


I like Hazies and I like Belgians.  But I’ve had far more awful, undrinkable Belgians than NEIPA’s.  I’ve also had a few Belgians that were otherworldly, though I can’t say I’ve ever experienced the same magic with a hazy.  My two cents.

what are the issues with undrinkable belgians? homebrewed ones? too syrupy sweet? just curious.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: Megary on May 15, 2022, 05:49:53 pm

I haven’t had a lot of hazy IPA but I like them. Tons of hop flavor without the bitterness. I can see the attraction. They’ve always been an out on the town beer for me but I need to learn to brew one.

I can’t stand sour beers and I didn’t like Belgian beers even while visiting Belgium. I always attributed it to not choosing the right ones.

truly, i've found out that people's tastebuds are different. not just "i like X/dont like Y" but they actually perceive things differently. so i wouldnt imagine or try to change anyone's mind on their choice in beer.

i get a tannins and hop-burn from hazy IPAs and simply don't like a lot of aspects about them.

i like belgians a lot


I like Hazies and I like Belgians.  But I’ve had far more awful, undrinkable Belgians than NEIPA’s.  I’ve also had a few Belgians that were otherworldly, though I can’t say I’ve ever experienced the same magic with a hazy.  My two cents.

what are the issues with undrinkable belgians? homebrewed ones? too syrupy sweet? just curious.
This is just my opinion, and I’m certainly no Belgian expert.
 
I find some either too heavy, malty, unbalanced, too alcoholic, overly fruity or spicy, or just undrinkable in the sense that a few sips are more than enough.

Don’t mistake me, when done a certain way (that is, a way that I like), I find them super enjoyable.

From memory, Orval might be my favorite.  But I recently had a Rochefort 8 that I found incredibly underwhelming.

I guess this just speaks to my personal tastes and nothing else.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 15, 2022, 07:24:05 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
Spencer actually did have a NEIPA and at least one sour. They even had a pumpkin ale.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: erockrph on May 15, 2022, 08:14:01 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
Spencer actually did have a NEIPA and at least one sour. They even had a pumpkin ale.
Yeah, but with the beer market being what it is right now, it makes me wonder if they should have focused on their niche a bit more. Their IPAs and pilsner are all decent beer, but if I'm getting an IPA it isn't going to be from Spencer. I don't know if they would have been able to survive in the current environment on a Belgian/Trappist beer lineup, but it was probably their best shot. That being said, I will miss their beer.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: majorvices on May 15, 2022, 08:41:18 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
Spencer actually did have a NEIPA and at least one sour. They even had a pumpkin ale.

Well then maybe they deserved to fail.  ;)
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: majorvices on May 15, 2022, 08:42:06 pm
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
Spencer actually did have a NEIPA and at least one sour. They even had a pumpkin ale.
Yeah, but with the beer market being what it is right now, it makes me wonder if they should have focused on their niche a bit more. Their IPAs and pilsner are all decent beer, but if I'm getting an IPA it isn't going to be from Spencer. I don't know if they would have been able to survive in the current environment on a Belgian/Trappist beer lineup, but it was probably their best shot. That being said, I will miss their beer.

Great points
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: fredthecat on May 15, 2022, 08:46:35 pm

This is just my opinion, and I’m certainly no Belgian expert.
 
I find some either too heavy, malty, unbalanced, too alcoholic, overly fruity or spicy, or just undrinkable in the sense that a few sips are more than enough.

Don’t mistake me, when done a certain way (that is, a way that I like), I find them super enjoyable.

From memory, Orval might be my favorite.  But I recently had a Rochefort 8 that I found incredibly underwhelming.

I guess this just speaks to my personal tastes and nothing else.

the alcohol monopoly here tends to let in only the big name belgians ie. trappists and celebrated non-trappists. sadly for some weird reason they have purged all unibroue products despite being made in canada.

so, thinking back, yes i recall some really syrupy and simply alcohol directly up front ones in the past. but re: rochefort 8. i actually had one the other night, and treated not like something special, but as a simple strong drink (its only $3.90 here) i found it was pleasant, hit some flavourful notes and went down.

i mostly find that heaviness is not such an issue with them, but sometimes overcarbonation can be.

re: belgian as a concept, i remember making a very simple all extract (LME+DME) beer with WLP500 and tettnang hops and it ended up being very memorable for just a simple, flavourful unpretentious 5% ABV beer
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 16, 2022, 06:01:25 am
People in the US aren't drinking Belgians any longer. You better have a hazy NEIPA or some (nasty) fruited sour in your beer lineup or it's going to be harder to succeed.
Spencer actually did have a NEIPA and at least one sour. They even had a pumpkin ale.
Yeah, but with the beer market being what it is right now, it makes me wonder if they should have focused on their niche a bit more. Their IPAs and pilsner are all decent beer, but if I'm getting an IPA it isn't going to be from Spencer. I don't know if they would have been able to survive in the current environment on a Belgian/Trappist beer lineup, but it was probably their best shot. That being said, I will miss their beer.
I have had similar thoughts. Even though they make some very good beer I found that they never seemed to find their “voice”. Their first release was their “patersbier”, what gets called a Belgian single. It’s excellent, and different, and would have been a great beer as part of their lineup, in fact I enjoyed a couple on my deck yesterday afternoon. I thought it was a weird choice as the first release, especially since it took a year for a second release. It wasn’t an expected Trappist offering, and it was more sessionable yet they originally charged I think $15.99 for a 4 pack of 11.2 oz bottles, which they eventually reduced the price of. I always thought they would have been better off establishing their excellence in Trappist/Belgians then adding more popular styles seasonally.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: majorvices on May 16, 2022, 06:50:16 am
Just to point out again American tastes have changed drastically over the last 10 years or so. If your business brand says you sell Belgian beers it might not garner the type of attraction that this once had 10 years ago, regardless if you throw in a few gimmicks to appease the masses. I say this as a brewer who started up a craft brewery whose focus was initially on Belgian ales and German Ales and lagers. We had to change that model to achieve growth in the market. Luckily we started out small and were able to do that.

I'm not a fan of NEIPA though I will drink them from time to time (but I refuse to drink sours). As a commercial brewer I have basically been forced into completely changing the way I think about brewing (old dog learning new tricks) since I have decided to stay in this business. That means focusing on hazy and sour beers. Thankfully some of you out there still enjoy lagers. lol
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: Megary on May 16, 2022, 07:06:18 am

This is just my opinion, and I’m certainly no Belgian expert.
 
I find some either too heavy, malty, unbalanced, too alcoholic, overly fruity or spicy, or just undrinkable in the sense that a few sips are more than enough.

Don’t mistake me, when done a certain way (that is, a way that I like), I find them super enjoyable.

From memory, Orval might be my favorite.  But I recently had a Rochefort 8 that I found incredibly underwhelming.

I guess this just speaks to my personal tastes and nothing else.

the alcohol monopoly here tends to let in only the big name belgians ie. trappists and celebrated non-trappists. sadly for some weird reason they have purged all unibroue products despite being made in canada.

so, thinking back, yes i recall some really syrupy and simply alcohol directly up front ones in the past. but re: rochefort 8. i actually had one the other night, and treated not like something special, but as a simple strong drink (its only $3.90 here) i found it was pleasant, hit some flavourful notes and went down.

i mostly find that heaviness is not such an issue with them, but sometimes overcarbonation can be.

re: belgian as a concept, i remember making a very simple all extract (LME+DME) beer with WLP500 and tettnang hops and it ended up being very memorable for just a simple, flavourful unpretentious 5% ABV beer

I suppose I went into that Rochefort 8 with unrealistic expectations, expecting something magical, and I just didn't get it.  So that's on me.

Your homebrewed version sounds exactly like the type of Belgian style that I would enjoy.  I'll have to give it a shot someday.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: narvin on May 16, 2022, 07:19:38 am
The 8 isn't bad but I personally find it to be the dryest and most alcoholic tasting of the bunch.  6 is smoother and 10 has that over the top Belgian Strong Dark flavor that I love.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: MDixon on May 16, 2022, 08:36:08 am
Their beer was lost in a sea of choices in most stores. Take NC for example, we have 350 breweries. Spencer's price point was higher than others for styles you can typically find somewhere else for less. Having to rely on widespread distribution to be successful isn't sustainable. The key to success for most today are local sales driving revenue.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 16, 2022, 08:53:03 am
Their beer was lost in a sea of choices in most stores. Take NC for example, we have 350 breweries. Spencer's price point was higher than others for styles you can typically find somewhere else for less. Having to rely on widespread distribution to be successful isn't sustainable. The key to success for most today are local sales driving revenue.
Yes, that's another thing, they should have been huge in the local market here but really weren't. I know that they didn't want to be having crowds in the monastic enclosure but it would have been cool if they had set up a destinantion tap house on the outskirts of their property, which is beautiful and accesible from the Boston area and 20 minutes from Worcester. I think that would have brought in a lot of revenue and boosted the brand.
It's too bad, the whole idea of the brewery was that it could sustain the monestary, which is down to about 50 monks, many elderly. They invested in a very high tech brewery which could be run very effeciently.
I also I am sure that the monks will miss the beer they were allowed to have with their Sunday dinner.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: fredthecat on May 16, 2022, 09:12:40 am
Their first release was their “patersbier” It wasn’t an expected Trappist offering, and it was more sessionable yet they originally charged I think $15.99 for a 4 pack of 11.2 oz bottles, which they eventually reduced the price of. I always thought they would have been better off establishing their excellence in Trappist/Belgians then adding more popular styles seasonally.

branding is such a silly thing. lol patersbier - some flavourful pale base malt (vienna, english or belgian pale varieties, pilsner) to ~1.045 gravity, 30 IBU of noble hops. yeast. but $15.99 because its "Belgian/Trappist". give me a break. belgian  "beer" being unpopular again could be the best thing for the use of belgian yeasts. there is no reason a patersbier should be any different in price than a basic craft lager.

( I refuse to drink sours).

i can slip beers like flemish red ale, gueuze, etc every now and then if i don't find their price ludicrous. but the kettle-soured NA craft beers are severely underwhelming. i never, ever buy them and i did give them a shot over the past 2 years. very, very lame.
was listening to a recent ron pattinson interview on the history of berliner weisse, and he explains that brett was basically equally as important in good berliner weisse up until the fall of the berlin wall and the buying out of the good former berliner weisse breweries. replacing true mixed fermentation with pasteurized lacto ferment and pure cerevisiae fermentation at a 50/50 ratio. very interesting to hear that this led to the common NA craft interpretation of berliner weisse, which is often enough just kettle-soured wheat beer with fruit thrown in. sad.

 
The 8 isn't bad but I personally find it to be the dryest and most alcoholic tasting of the bunch.  6 is smoother and 10 has that over the top Belgian Strong Dark flavor that I love.

yup, i found it just a decent quaffer. a hard to believe, but extant rumour is that rochefort uses the same base beer but just adds higher amounts of candi syrup/sugar to 8 and 10 than 6. (tbh i never had 6 ever). disclaimer: rochefort is probably my least favourite bel/ned trappist, but i like all of them greatly.


Having to rely on widespread distribution to be successful isn't sustainable. The key to success for most today are local sales driving revenue.

hehe, noted.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: majorvices on May 24, 2022, 04:21:55 pm
As I was saying ...

https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2022/05/23/spencer-trappist-brewery-closes-243040?fbclid=IwAR33AtELTL0YMbdCyFdpyeskrvM8DikZFpfIqinY8i6Thkqtx_EYZ6eNYV0
Title: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: tommymorris on May 24, 2022, 04:27:59 pm
Which points out once again that brewing is first and foremost a business.
Not at my house! ;)
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: tommymorris on May 24, 2022, 04:39:09 pm
Their beer was lost in a sea of choices in most stores. Take NC for example, we have 350 breweries. Spencer's price point was higher than others for styles you can typically find somewhere else for less. Having to rely on widespread distribution to be successful isn't sustainable. The key to success for most today are local sales driving revenue.
I am a lapsed Catholic. Sometimes after mass they would sell stuff to raise money. They should sold their beer after mass as you walked out. They would have made stacks of cash!
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: MDixon on May 25, 2022, 06:43:24 am
They didn't want to open a tasting room and allow outsiders in according to the article. Almost every brewery in the US has a taproom today. That's probably a major reason they didn't make it, that and trying to distribute too far and wide.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: majorvices on May 25, 2022, 06:55:28 am
They didn't want to open a tasting room and allow outsiders in according to the article. Almost every brewery in the US has a taproom today. That's probably a major reason they didn't make it, that and trying to distribute too far and wide.

When they first launched we had their beer everywhere in Alabama. First time I had it was at a brewfest in Birmingham (AL). They definitely started strong with the distributor game.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: MDixon on May 25, 2022, 07:30:49 am
At less than 10k barrels a year they were spending a ton shipping beer. It starts to explain the price point.

Of course back in the early days breweries had to distribute wide to sell their beer. Then over time as craft beer interest increased they began to pull back distribution close to home. I can only think of a handful of breweries who still distribute in multiple states with somewhat low production levels.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: denny on May 25, 2022, 08:33:19 am
Which points out once again that brewing is first and foremost a business.
Not at my house! ;)

Are you a commercial brewer? If not, that doesn't apply to you, or to me.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: Megary on May 25, 2022, 09:15:48 am
 Emojipedia  (https://emojipedia.org/winking-face/#:~:text=A%20yellow%20face%20with%20a,or%20sexual%20%F0%9F%98%8F%20Smirking%20Face.)

 ;)
Emoji Meaning
A yellow face with a slight smile or open mouth shown winking, usually its left eye. May signal a joke, flirtation, hidden meaning, or general positivity. Tone varies, including playful, affectionate, suggestive, or ironic.

Not to be confused with the more mischievous or sexual 😏 Smirking Face.



I'm thinking tommy was going for "joke".  I thought it was funny. 

Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 25, 2022, 09:25:20 am
Their beer was lost in a sea of choices in most stores. Take NC for example, we have 350 breweries. Spencer's price point was higher than others for styles you can typically find somewhere else for less. Having to rely on widespread distribution to be successful isn't sustainable. The key to success for most today are local sales driving revenue.
I am a lapsed Catholic. Sometimes after mass they would sell stuff to raise money. They should sold their beer after mass as you walked out. They would have made stacks of cash!
They mainly do mass for themselves (starting at 3:00 a.m. I think). There are a few pews for the public but only a few people are there at any given service.
I am a very lapsed Catholic myself but my oldest brother worked there up until the pandemic running their gift shop and he almost became a monk there in the 80's. They didn't even sell their beer in the gift shop, which would have done well I believe.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: pete b on May 25, 2022, 09:26:40 am
They didn't want to open a tasting room and allow outsiders in according to the article. Almost every brewery in the US has a taproom today. That's probably a major reason they didn't make it, that and trying to distribute too far and wide.

When they first launched we had their beer everywhere in Alabama. First time I had it was at a brewfest in Birmingham (AL). They definitely started strong with the distributor game.
When they started out Chimay used their clout with distributors to help them get widely distributed.
Title: Re: Only Trappist Brewery in U.S. Closing
Post by: Joe Sr. on May 26, 2022, 06:53:01 pm
That's crappy news.  I was pleased to see a Spencer sign up at my favorite local bar when I was there a couple weeks back (I don't go out much).

That said, when I bought their beer in Newport it was WAY overcarbonated, which made me think infected. 

I suppose I liked them more as a concept than as a brewery...