Lost Abbey: Carnevale Ale (USA: Saison: 8% ABV)
Visual: Clear ripe banana yellow. Inch of mounded loose bubbles. Good chunk of carbonation.
Nose: Feed bag. Earthy. Wheaty. Paprika. Pepper. Slight sour dough.
Body: Banana sweets. Blackpool rock. Some bitterness in the midst. Rustic centre and oats. White pepper. Sherbet feel. Lime. Hop oils. Soft apricot.
Finish: Lime sorbet. Good clean bitterness. Lightly earthy. Some hop character. Barley.
Conclusion: A blond ale saison. Ok, when they called this a “Saison-style blond ale” I was kind of expecting them to be calling it that so to make sure it was differentiated from the recent black saisons that have been popping up. But no, it turns out this does have a lot of Belgian blond in there. Probably more influenced by the blond ale style than the saison style, if only just.
I think that what puts blond influence in the lead is that this is a very clean tasting beer. You get the more earthy stuff top and tail, but the middle is very clean and sweet with lots of raw cane sugar notes. The bitterness is similarly quite clean and neutral with only a few notes of the hop character with it. Overall it is a big slab of blond sandwiched between two saison buns. The contrast it brings is fascinating, entering and leaving earthy and rustic, and shining away very bright between that. With banana sweetness and clean bitterness the centre does have calls to the excellent Dupont saison style, while the pepper and rustic rest of the beer calls to other saisons in my mind. The balance does shift over time as the beer gets warmer and you progress through the glass – more rustic fills the whole experience, more oily and heavy. It keeps things interesting.
The American hops don’t seem to have a huge impact, unless it is them that are responsible for the clean bitterness. There is a soft lime and apricot, with lime being more prominent in the beer – but, rightly, the native Belgian style characteristics are given more play.
Overall, no real complaints but also not quite a shining example. Reasonable enough to share, and definitely to enjoy, with interesting stylings. Different and tasty – enough to be worth a try.
Background: Ok, research has made me more confused. Rate beer has two versions of this listed. A 2008 and earlier version without Brett. A 2009 onwards version with brett. But both are 6.5% ABV. This is 8% abv. So is this an even newer version? The date on the bottle is nigh illegible so I’m not sure what year this was made. Feh. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Dubmood: Lost Floppies Version 2. yes I’m still on an 8 bit kick.