It is thick and the color of a $2 million bag of soil. One sip and you're likely to end up with a forest of elms sprouting on your tongue, which, by the time you're finished with all 11.2 ounces of Trappistes Rochefort 10, will be fully matured and you'll be buried beneath a tangle of roots, still savoring this glorious ale's density. It comes straight from Heaven, this Belgian ale, created by the Trappist monks of the Notre Dame de Saint-Rémy Abbey.
Trappists lead a very secluded life, and the monks of Saint-Rémy must be doing some serious boozing, because this nectar, this giver of life, this drop of God's soul, has definitely passed through many generations of blessed taste buds and doused some Chosen Livers. How could you resist? Trappists at Saint-Rémy do three things: worship, labor and study. And from this triumvirate, they achieve an enlightenment that far surpasses earthly pleasures such as sex, Cheetos or the need to watch the final episode of Friends. They make ale.
You can purchase Trappistes Rochefort 10 at Brennan's, an ace little wine, tobacco and food store in the Central West End. They sell it for $8 a bottle -- worth every penny -- and you can take it with you or sit outside and enjoy the silence of a quiet Thursday evening. Quiet because, sadly, many people are inside watching the Friends finale. They should be out here drinking an ale and pondering Thomas Merton instead. Merton, recall, was a Trappist who checked into a monastery and achieved a laser-beam resolve, one that involved "letting go of the imaginary and the absent and returning to the present, the real, what is in front of my nose. Each time I do this I am more present, more alone, more detached, more clear, better able to pray. Failure to do it means confusions, weaknesses, hesitation, fear and all the way through to anguish and nightmares" (i.e., Friends).
Imagine a Guinness draught with a big-ass kick. Imagine a dense ale that roars in with hints of plum and chocolate, then kicks it down the back of the throat with a stong hint of -- get this -- nice gin. It's weird, and stronger than all get-out. The monastery at Saint-Rémy was born in 1464, and 125-plus years later its inhabitants finally perfected this ale recipe: Pilsner and Munich malts, and some deep, dark sugar.
Brennan's, which has been open for seven months, is nestled at the intersection of Maryland and Euclid, and it's a perfect addition to the Central West End. It's a place you can swing by on your way to a dinner party on a whim and grab a pinot for the road, or a bottle of beer, or a single-malt. Drink to celebrate Merton, drink and rejoice that the pox that was Friends has finally landed in Hell, where it will sizzle forever.
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