New York’s Brewery Ommegang brews authentic Belgian style beers
exclusively, but manages to make them a bit more drinker-friendly all
around. Their Abbey Ale is their flagship beer and for good reason - it
has all the makings of a Belgian dubbel but without the acquired taste
you often need to drink and appreciate a beer of this type.
I poured a 12oz bottle dated 27 June 2012 into a chalice (I left the yeast in the bottle).
Appearance: Beautiful dark chestnut mahogany hue that’s almost dark
purple. Forms a large, fluffy, tan foaming head which is slow to
dissipate and leaves a continuous coating of head and minor lacing on
Smell: Dark fruits, especially prunes or raisins with hints of spices, but still mild.
Taste: Ommegang Abbey Ale was inspired by the Trappist dubbel
style and one sip into it you can tell this is true. Much like a Chimay
Red or a Rochefort 6 it’s a soft, but complex palate of dark fruits and
light bitterness. What makes this brew unique and (for lack of a better
word), Americanized, is its use of spices: coriander, sweet orange peel,
star anise, licorice root, and cumin. You’d think that would make for a
spice bomb, but this beer is surprisingly calm in its delivery.
Light malty sweetness up front with a taste of dark fruits, but also
bready at the same time (fruitcake?). Dry bitterness through the middle
which then finishes with a gentle alcohol warmth and even sweeter fruity
taste on the finish. The spices are not individually distinguishable,
though that’s fine because I think this beer is meant to be about the
homogenization effect and they all blend well together. Strong enough to
create for an interesting, delectable palate, but still calm enough not
to make it liquid potpourri. This is an ideal starter Belgian-style
beer, yet good enough to be appreciated by connoisseurs.
Drinkability: When I first poured the bottle it created a large amount
of foam which had me concerned it would be a carbonation explosion in
the mouth. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a soft, gentle
mouthfeel that was very smooth going down. It does leave a somewhat dry,
pasty aftertaste, but it’s easily tolerable. At 8.2% ABV Ommegang Abbey
Ale would seem pretty hefty, but it’s nothing close to a weighty, obese
brew. The subtle alcohol warmth is welcoming here.