If you had to make a list of the three people most likely to be seen on a Friday night at Grumpy’s in Northeast, the Prior from the Koningshoeven Trappist Monastery would be unlikely to feature prominently.
And yet, last night, there he was. Father Isaac is both a member of the Order of Cistercians and a dedicated beer evangelist, spending the evening chatting with the gathered crowd about his abbey’s brew.
Koningshoeven has an unusual distinction — it’s the only Trappist ale made outside of Belgium. The brewery is located in the Netherlands, about two hours outside of Amsterdam.
Grumpy’s had four of the monastery’s beers available for drinking: a dubbel, a quadrupel, witte on tap, and a bottle-conditioned tripel. Samples were available of a fifth beer, Isidor, which is due to make landfall in force sometime in August. Isidor, brewed in honor the monastery’s 125th anniversary, is made entirely with two years’ worth of hops grown within the compound’s walls. The flier described it as “a mildly sweet amber beer with a caramel note; slightly bitter taste with a fruity finish”; I thought it was delicious and would have loved more than a sample. Proceeds from its sale will help the monastery rebuild a sister monastery in Uganda.
In response to the fear that a beer-toting monk might not be sufficient inducement to bring a crowd through the doors, a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich experience was also made available. The ham hailed from a local meat market; the “Johnny” bread was made at the monastery at St. John’s University; the cheese was Trappist, a mild variety similar to a mimolette. A dollop of mustard added to the butter blended right into the overall package and gave each sandwich a kick.