Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ommegang Abbey Ale

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.

4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (757) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 15, 2012
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 the glass.

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.
 Grade: 8/10