Tap Out Dark Abbey

Top Out: Dark Abbey Style Beer (Scotland: Belgian Strong Ale: 8.9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Dusty off white bubbles over the body.

Nose: Bitter chocolate. Slight sour grapes. Prunes and raisins. Slightly dusty. Coffee remains. Vinous.

Body: Port. Raisins. Fruitcake. Sour grapes. Tobacco. Chewable. Chocolate. Figs. Liquore feel. Ripe banana.

Finish: Madeira cake. Raisins. Rich and slightly sweet. Raspberry cream. Slight tobacco. Fruitcake. Touch of marzipan around the edge. Malt chocolate. Ripe banana. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: After I finished this review I looked to the web to see what others thought and found this was getting middling but not special review. Boy do I not have my finger on the pulse of the beer community as this is bloody lovely.

Calling very heavily to the dubbel in style it is hugely complex and open to examination with dark fruits, chocolate, vinous notes and influences. It walks that line between the over smooth liquore feel of the USA take on the style and the harsh edged full character that defines my preferred Belgian origin of the style. The match of the two allows the really ultra smooth raisins and figs to come without losing that big chewy yeasty character of the Belgium interpretation. It feels like it should age wall as well. I will have to try.

There is also a wonderful sourness, vinous in character that permeates and offsets the sweet aspects and Madeira flavours in the same way that the rough yeastiness offsets the liquore feel. It is just somehow rough edges and balanced smoothness simultaneously.

Not as big on feel as many Belgian varities of the same abv, which does mean it is different, but also dangerously drinkable. Frankly of all the non Belgian attempts at the style this is easily one of my favourites. A fantastic job. Now while the rest of the web seems to say otherwise, I stand here and say, try this, you may love it for the great beer it is.

Background: Not “Tap Out” Despite how the logo makes it look that way. A pity, I had a wealth of Kurt Angle jokes lined up. Picked this up at Independent Spirit, I’ve not tried any Top Out beers before but was interested in seeing a UK take on the Belgium Style. For beer style I was leaning toward Dubbel, however at the abv and style I guess Belgium Strong Brown ale is probably fair, so in this case I will go with rate beers suggested style. Drunk while listening to some Lacuna Coil, been a while since I broke them out to listen to. According to the bottle this is their first limited edition beer, long may they continue.

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