Abbey – Belgian Dubbel Ale
New Belgium Brewing Company
$1.99/Bottle (12 oz)
I’ve always had a soft spot for Belgian and Belgian-Style beers. From Dubbels to Tripels to Quads, they run a gamut of flavors and characters but can generally be relied on to be full-bodied but never too filling, give strong grain profiles without being charred or stale, and to use spices in ways you don’t find in many American beers. Plus, as a Catholic, I never get tired of reminding people that when you shut my people up in a cloistered Abbey in Belgium, tell them they’ve got to spend all their time praying and fasting, they realize that the best way to handle all of that is by making (and occasionally subsisting on) beer. So that’s cool.
The Brewer’s Pitch:
New Belgium’s story starts in the Abbey – both figuratively, drawing inspiration from the Belgian Monks, but literally, as Abbey Dubbel was one of their first releases. It’s their most award-winning beer, with an updated recipe arriving in 2015. Abbey is heavily malted to bring out caramel and chocolate notes with a Belgian yeast to add some spice to the sweet base. Dried cherry, fig, and burnt sugar round out the exotic flavor profile. The finish is a light bitter closure to the sweetly roasted front end, keeping the palate clean and ready for more.
Abbey pours reddish-mahogany with deeper ruby highlights through the center and a fluffy tan head. The nose is delicately smoky malt with a tangy spicy note that fades into earthy, musky cloves. The beer isn’t all that heavy but it does coat the tongue and palate to deliver a powerful burst of spice on a wave of delicately roasted malts. Flavors of clove and bergamot add an herbal tingle that lingers long after the grain fades. Once your tongue acclimates to the powerful spices, caramel sweetness begins to develop underneath. The beer finishes with a lingering bitter tang of spice and clove, deep on the back of the palate.
This is a whole lot of beer for the price, and I don’t mean the volume. It’s a complex and exotic flavor profile that will challenge you if you choose to savor and analyze it, but that isn’t SO intense that you couldn’t enjoy it along with a meal. The acidity is a bit high and can sit a bit rough in your stomach, which could have been tempered if the beer had more body from heavier malts. Still, this is a great choice for something to curl up with on a chilly night that won’t break the bank.
The Bottom Line:
I like New Belgium, and I like Belgians, but this is the first New Belgium Belgian I’ve tried. Weird.