Tag Archive: Lost Abbey

Lost Abbey Carnevale Ale

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.

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.

Lost Abbey: Lost and Found (USA: Abbey Dubbel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddish brown. Large frothy sud like toffee coloured head.

Nose: Candy cane. Raisin. Slight oak. Chocolate dust. Brown sugar. Light cinnamon dusted coffee.

Body: Very smooth. Chocolate drinks. Plums and raisins. Sugar mice. Figs.  Brown sugar. Almonds. Candyfloss and chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Loose chocolate. More figs. Almond. Apricot. Chocolate liqueur. Light apple.

Conclusion:  This is a delicate one. Initially the beers seems weak on the tongue. A few moments with it though allows you to realise that this is just the immense smoothness of the main body. Roll the beer around the mouth for a while and the flavour builds up slowly, layer by layer. Even as each element is added on the abv is nigh completely masked, an impressive feat which I wonder how they achieve.

It is smooth and chocolaty, the dark fruits also call to the heavier interpretations of the abbey style.  The flavours, while taking a while to build up, last long, especially the chocolate. There are lots of lighter flavours as well, candy floss and sugar cane. The smoothness of the delivery is the thing here, from sugar cane to chocolate the delivery makes them seem like delicacies of the type.

I’m not sure if the added ingredients, such as raisin make much difference here. The flavours are close to what you would expect from the style anyway so it is hard to say what came from the beer and what from the raisins. I would imagine from my drinking of it that they enhance the current flavours rather than adding new ones to the beer.

As you can probably tell already the flavours build up well over time, there are new notes that come out over time and with changing temperatures.  I think my only real reservation is a personal one. It’s greatest strength can also be its main weakness. The smoothness seems a great contrast to the Belgium style it emulates. The Belgium beers tend to be much more evident in their flavours, even light abv beers are full flavoured and they never hide the force of the body. You are always well aware of what you are drinking.  The difference in intensity here is enough to almost seem a difference in type.

This smoothing out in the American interpretation could possibly be a call to different drinking cultures of the respective countries and expectations of the beers therefore, but it does cause some separation from the enjoyment of the beer for me as my expectations and the beer at hand clash.  This is however a personal thing as mentioned.

Overall it is very good, very smooth, and personal bias not withstanding it is very well done.

Background:  Lost Abbey (Aka the Belgium beer style producing side of Port Brewing) are widely viewed as one of the best makers of Belgium style ales outside of Belgium.  This bottle, which was shared with friends, is an attempt at the dubbel style which has had a raisin puree added to it for a little extra twist.  Picked up from Brewdogs guest beer section I had high hopes for this.

Brewdog/Lost Abbey: Lost Dog (Scotland: Imperial Porter: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: A very dark brown to cherry red. Beige froth comes up but it disappears in seconds leaving just the carbonation of the main body.

Nose: Raisins. Fruitcake and brandy cream. Liquorice. Rum. Very spirit like air.

Body: Cherry (red and black). Brandy cream. Fruitcake and raisins. Liquorice. Slightly sherbety. Coffee. Marzipan.

Finish: Malt load and butter. Almond slices. Rum. Dry liquorice. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion:  Considering the beer style and weighty abv this beer isn’t half as thick of viscous as I would have imagined. In fact given the huge fruitcake influence it seems slightly ESB like in style, or with a calling to the wine and fruitcake styling of Fullers Vintage ales.

The body is surprisingly clear on the eye. Visually it reminds be of the darker Belgium strong ales, not entirely inappropriately. I’m not sure if it is linked with the lack of viscosity to the body but the spirit influence does seem to be given a lot of roaming room.  As mentioned the beer is fruit dominated and there is a distinct spirit feel throughout.  The main counterbalance flavour wise is the dry liquorice which permeates the entire beer.

The beer is good but for all the abv and rum ageing it doesn’t seem to bring a lot more to the table than the Vintage ales mentioned earlier.  That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have it’s own quirks.  The traditional coffee elements of a porter seem oddly out of place here. They flow around the main body rather than integrate.  Also it takes on a bit more character if you are willing to risk larger mouthfuls of the potent liquid. Here it seems thicker and more brandy cream comes out.  The beer style seems to shift once again here, calling to the Barley Wine styling of beers such as Devine Rebel.

So a very fruity, very spirity Imperial Porter. A mix that calls to ESB influence and Barley wine in feel. A jack of all trades and master of none. That doesn’t mean it isn’t very good but it stops it being great. A beer with a lot of potential let down I feel by needing maybe just a bit more thickness of body.

Background: Now best I know Port Brewing and Lost Abbey are the same brewery. Lost Abbey is the name for Belgium Style beers and Port Brewing American style beers.  This beer is an Imperial Porter. Ya know Porter, named (according to some interpretations) for the popularity with porters in London.  Which isn’t in Belgium. Or America I will admit but damn it Port Brewing even has Port in the damn name!   Why is this a Lost Abbey beer? Well as mentioned in the review it does have a Belgium strong dark ale resemblance but I still stand by my rant.  Anyway this collaboration was aged in rum casks, and I’ve been looking forwards to it for a while. Also it comes in a presentation box.  Which looks really really cool but I always feel bad about needless packaging.  Strange considering I felt no problem with the mass of packaging that was needed to post it to me. Maybe I’m a touch of a hypocrite.

Lost Abbey: 10 Commandments (USA: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: A very dark ruby red with a fizz but no lasting head.

Nose: Honey, cough sweets or maybe lozenges. Raisins and slight apple vinegar.

Body: Mead, raisins. Smooth and malty with red grapes, malt loaf and slick oak barrels, Sweetness comes in glacier cherries, syrup and lozenges.  Mixed in is barley, sesame seeds with a hint of red wine and slight milk chocolate.

Finish:  Mead and white grapes. Bitter. Still feels thick on the tongue at this point. Sour red wine mixes with gin in the air. Crab apples, slight charred oak and the influence of fruitcake and raisins.

Conclusion: I’ve been calling a lot of beers vinous recently but this really takes the cake for it.  Mead (honey wine) in the nose, red wine in the body and white wine touches in the finish, with each element seeping through to the other stages as well.

Truly fruity, and yes vinous then, in many ways feels more like a replication of an old traditional style ale that your expected Belgium style ale. By alternate motions you get almost sickly sweetness and acidic sourness playing in the same glass.

I’ve found that often unusual ingredients can end up getting lost in a strong beer and end up being just a gimmick, but that definitely is not the case here. The rosemary, raisin and honey are in full display, nigh dominating the beer.  This actually reminds me a bit of Moors Fusion, but with a lot more on display.  I have a feeling that this beer would age marvellously as well.

Effectively a wine of the beer world, without compromising the power or smoothness that can come from an ale. The only thing I mark it down for is that the honey can occasionally be present too much, as if trying to have its sweetness fight the sourness of the main beer.

What we have here is a beer that calls to the tartness of sour brown ales, honey sweetness that calls to mead and a lot in between.  Unless you will hate the wine styling, then this is a very good beer.

Background: Lost Abbey is the other name of Port Brewing and is dedicated to making Belgium style ales.  This beer in particular is made with honey, rosemary and raisins.  Rate beer lists as 9% ABV, but the bottle lists 10% which I have gone with. This beer was shared with friends due to its size and abv, and aid was given with trying to name some of the odder flavours.

The Lost Abbey: Angel Share: Bourbon Barrel (USA: Barley Wine:12.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red wine to black, with no head and very little fizz.

Nose: Red wine, vanilla. Smooth creamy chocolate. Immense black cherries, fudge and black treacle.  Almost chewable, yet sweet. Fresh plums and prunes next to the more subtle spiced blood orange. Coconut and digestive biscuits at the outliers.

Body: Very slick. Toffee and treacle. Marzipan. A mix of milk and bitter chocolate depending on the moment.  Raisins, gin and vanilla. Very light hints of prunes, orange and black cherry. Initially very light, but builds.

Finish: Liquorice, aniseed. Blackcherry again mixing with port.  Bitter, but still slick. Bitter chocolate. Evident, but not overpowering alcohol. Coffee liquors. Big toffee and Cadburys cream eggs.

Conclusion: When pouring this I had to check twice to make sure I hadn’t picked up a stout by mistake. It pours heavy and thick with a nose not entirely unlike Good King Henry.

The body dispels that illusion, well partially. It still has massive chocolate, which calls to the Imperial Stout style, but the body has a very stylish smoothness and lightness of touch that even the slickest stout does not match.

Initially it is over smooth and slightly light, which results in the flavour not coming out well. Thankfully it grows, with subtle sweet slickness intertwined into the wine and chocolate body.  It’s still very slick, and seems very much a barley wine in the Port Brewing tradition.

So an almost Barley Stout (or Imperial Barley Stout) beer, subtle and yet rich. Its only weakness it the slow build up required to get the body moving properly. Sliightly sickly sweet, like Cadburys cream eggs or crème brulee, definitely a beer that encourages moderation.

A great beer, with just a few small points against it.

Background: The big 450th tasting note. I’ve heard about the Lost Abbey for a while, and have tried a few beers from the Port Brewing side of the production (Which in the case of older viscosity seems to share a remarkable amount of character with this beer). This beer was picked up from Brewdogs Bar in Scotland, and it was only on reading the back I realised this was the Bourbon aged variant, which is slightly rarer to my knowledge.  Due to its rep as one of ratebeers top 50 beers I decided to save it for one of my event tastings, and with this being the 450th I thought it was a good time to break it out.

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