Lost Abbey Cuvee De Tomme

Lost Abbey: Cuvee De Tomme (USA: Sour Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown with hints of black cherry red. Browned bubbles at edges but basically no head. Still of main body.

Nose: Gummed brown paper. Vanilla and white chocolate. Sour cherries mixed with strawberry jelly. Sour red wine. Wet twigs. Flavoured vodka. Cheesecake.

Body: Tart. Cider apples. Tart raspberries and sour cherry sweets. Apple crumble. Toffee. Vinegar and brown gummed paper. Notable alcohol. Sour red wine soaked raisins. Cheesecake. White grapes. Madeira cake.

Finish: Acidic apple. vanilla toffee. Strawberry jam. Sour cherries. Raspberries. Gummy. Palma violets. Twigs. Drying into charred oak.

Conclusion: Well. Holy shit. Sometimes beers do live up to the hype. You know how I have been on the fence about Rodenbach Grand Cru – half enticed – half wondering how vinegar touched beer works? And how I enjoyed the Caractere Rouge, but it lost some of the intensity? Well, this is Grand Cru intensity, but with the big sour fruit and just amazing complexity.

Warning: This is pretty hardcore – it is Flemish brown like with all the gummed brown envelopes and vinegar touches that you get with the most challenging of the style, and has the full sour cherry effect – and with it, it goes from sour cherry sweets to the full almost holographic range brought on by the acidity, including cider apple and raspberry. This is not a baby’s first beer.

There is so much from the barrel ageing as well, a white chocolate note to the aroma, and vanilla and toffee elements throughout, even some cheesecake maybe. They are softening elements, not heavily so, but just enough that you start getting more restrained fruit notes below – sour wine soaked raisins and such like beneath the acidity.

This is intense, but does come with a kick – the alcohol feel, be it from the 11% , or the spirit of the barrel ageing, is just a tad too noticeable – it comes from the beer pushing the envelope on pretty much every scale, and at this one point it slips a bit too far. However it hardly breaks the beer, it is just that craftsman flaw to show they are still human.

Overall it is just wonderful, wine like, beer definitely, sour and sweet, fruit and spirity – it is something very special indeed.

Background: Oh me, oh my. I first heard about this in the world section of “100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die“, and it sounded awesome, didn’t think I would find it in the UK – but Brewdog’s guest beers proved me wrong. Uses malted barley, raisins candy sugar and sugar from sour cherries – Brett yeast, and aged in a mix of bourbon and French oak. This was drunk to celebrate hearing that Twin Peaks will be back on our screen! Drunk with a background of Garbage’s self titled album. I still hold that as one of the great albums of the 90’s and even prefer it over the more successful follow up album. I’m beginning to think it isn’t the new led light that is making the photos look a bit different, maybe shutter speed? Something is definitely different in the photos.