History and provenance are readily apparent, in the taste of the 8. Ever since the 1960s, Rochefort’s own yeast culture has produced those characteristic esters in its divine brews. And even today, in 2014, Rochefort’s famous Trappists continue to brew using water from the calcium-rich Tridaine spring, 42 metres above the abbey. This spring water is said to have a unique composition, readily transformed into the dark Rochefort beers, in the monks’ ‘brewing-hall cathedral’. Just add barley malt, wheat starch and hop pellets.
While the basic recipe for the three beers remains the same, what makes each distinct is the amount of malt and candy sugar added. Rochefort 8 is considered the ‘lad’ among the three, with its green-bottle cap hat, which first saw light in 1954. This youngest member of the family straightaway received a warm welcome, after its commissioning by one particular (and rather important) client. One year on, and it was made an official addition to what is now the Rochefort trio, and marketed as a ‘spéciale’. Some still refer to it by this name.
The Rochefort 8 is a beer to be savoured at your leisure. Not too dense, it goes down easily, quietly sparkling. The alcohol in the finish never lets you forget that this is an authentic degustation beer, one that cannot be hurried along. It is sweet and chocolatey, pleasant but certainly never boring. The same can be said of the alcohol content – it makes itself known, but it never overpowers, leaving plenty of room for all the rich subtlety to be found in a glass of the 8.