St. Martin is Brasserie de Brunehaut‘s line of authentic Abbey Ales. Brunehaut is now in its 123rd year of brewing, with a brief exception when they went bankrupt and current owner Marc-Antoine de Mees bought the brewery and began revamping it. The St Martin line was part of that revival, which included getting the line of beers “Abbey Ale” status.
To qualify as an Abbey Ale, the brewery must conform to these rules:
- The Abbey named must have a past history of brewing
- The brewery has to be authorized to use the name by the Abbey
- The brewery must follow the spirit of the old recipes if information is available
- A certain percentage of the profits are paid in royalties to the Bishop to be used for charitable ventures
If the beer meets these qualifications, the bottle can sport this logo on its label. The St. Martin beers are authentic Abbey beers. The Abbey of St. Martin was located in Tournai and had a book that mentioned purchasing spice for brewing. To maintain this tradition, the St. Martin Noel is made with cloves and cinnamon. In fact, you can see the 13th century crypts underneath the city hall. Recently, Marc-Antoine hosted a beer dinner for the US ambassador to Belgium in these crypts!
Appearance: Ruby red/brown, tan head, good retention.
Aroma: Cinnamon, clove, caramel, chocolate, toffee, spicy,
Taste: Cinnamon, brown sugar, milk chocolate, spicy, touch of pepper in the finish.
Overall Impression: This is a spicy, rich, complex winter beer. The flavor profile is exactly what you want for the dark days of cold winter. Yet it’s still balanced and relatively dry. The intense carbonation definitely helps to keep this beer light and lively on the palate. I haven’t seen it around yet (These notes are from a bottle I got last year when I visited the brewery), but it should be appearing in stores soon.
Availability: Seasonally where Brunehaut and St. Martin beers are sold, imported by C2 Imports.
You can read more about Brasserie de Brunehaut, including more reviews, on my page dedicated to them. You can also read about my tour of the brewery with owner Marc-Antoine de Mees.