Every few weeks, I get friends asking me what my all-time favourite beer is. The thing is that I don’t have an absolute favourite — I have a bunch.
To me, beer is night and day — there are no two brands of beer that taste exactly the same. I love over-the-top bitter India Pale Ales, sweet sweet caramelly barley wines, dark and heavy raisiny Belgian ales, oak barrel-aged coffee stouts and even the occasional Labatt 50. I like variety as variety is the spice of life!
One beer that I constantly overlook at the Liquor Mart, but absolutely love, is Trappistes Rochefort 10, a dark Belgian ale that RateBeer.com considers it one of the 100 best beers in the world.
RateBeer also now has a feature on their website where you can search for the best beers available for purchase in Manitoba. Rochefort comes out at No. 1 — it even has a rating of 100/100.
I’m biased about Belgian beers as Belgium is where so much of the best beer on the planet is made. What makes them so amazing? Tradition.
Belgium, like Germany, has a fascinating and vibrant history when it comes to beer. Beer production in Belgium dates back to the First Crusades nearly 1,000 years ago, but really took off after the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic Church got monks to brew beer as a way to raise money for the church.
Ever since then, Belgian beer has only become more and more popular. To this day, there are lots of breweries around Belgium that are run by Trappist monks, using the exact same recipes and brewing techniques that were used several hundred years ago, to give their beers a flavour that’s like nothing else.
Rochefort 10 is one such Trappist ale that I absolutely love every time I drink it. It pours an incredibly thick muddy dark brown, with a hint of a burnt caramel tinge to it. The beer started out a bit foamier than expected, but the head quickly goes down, leaving a nice creamy beige head.
The aroma of Rochefort 10 is complex, bringing me back to the patios of old Quebec City. There are notes of raisins, toffee, vanilla bean, Belgian yeast, clove and a slight hint of dark chocolate.
One taste and you immediately notice there’s a high alcohol content going on here — 11.6 per cent ABV, in fact — well over double your typical lager or ale, and likely the highest alcohol volume beer in the province (other than the sketchy beers in tall cans or plastic bottles).
This isn’t a beer meant to be chugged or used to get a "buzz" — even if you try to chug it, you might gag.
It’s a strong heavy Belgian quad ale, with notes of lightly burnt caramel, dark fruits such as raisins and plums, vanilla and a backing that I can only describe as "an alcohol taste" that’s lightly burns the back of your mouth.
Rochefort 10 is quite dry for the ‘mouth-feel,’ so it doesn’t leave a residue like some darker beers do. But there happens to be a bit of an aftertaste of green grapes.
This is an ale I would easily recommend for a beer-tasting party or for St. Jean Baptiste Day on June 24 to celebrate all things French.
While Rochefort 10 is a tad pricey at $5.36 per 330mL bottle, you have to remember it is made by Trappist monks who brew it the old-fashioned way — in small batches, as they have for centuries.
One thing I love is that with this beer, I’ve been able to influence friends to try new styles of beer. Even friends who tend to drink wine or whisky and those who don’t drink much beer at all found Rochefort 10 was unique and complex, and certainly not your grandfather’s beer!
It’s available at 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart (the majority are located in the fridges so you will have to look) and the Brandon South Liquor Mart.
Try this with ribs or as an after-dinner treat, and you will be hooked.