This is one of those beers that I went into drinking feeling unsure as to whether or not I’d actually end up liking it. It turns out that I really like it quite a bit (as does the crew on beeradvocate – this is highly rated). Try one soon if you can.
Name: Abbey Belgian Style Ale
Origin: New Belgium Brewing Company
Style: Belgian Dubbel/Abbey Ale
IBU: not listed
I drank this: poured from a bottle at home
This is a pretty copper/red color – much redder than most beers I’ve ever come across. It pours with a solid finger or so of thick head floating on top. There are tons of really tiny tiny bubbles floating up through it – it’s like staring at a glass of champagne or other finely-bubbled sparkling wine, except that it’s a beer. So it’s a sparkling beer.
The beer gives off a slightly malty, slightly Cola-like scent. Hiding underneath that are hints of caramel and banana. The banana thing is something I notice with beers that have been fermented with Belgian yeast strains – there’s something in those strains that always reads like banana to my nose/taste buds. The banana is here, but it’s much fainter than in a lot of other ales in this style.
Flavor-wise, this is a sweet beer, with caramel banana hints, lots of medium malts, and a touch of something fruity. While I know there are hops somewhere in the beer, they aren’t a noticeable thing. I can’t smell them and I can’t taste them at all – I know they’re there only because the beer doesn’t taste like straight sugar water. This is emphatically a sweet, rather than bitter, beer, however, so if you’re a hop-hater looking to expand your drinking horizons, this is a good place to go.
The aftertaste here isn’t particularly strong – there’s a slight malty-banana flavor, but it’s fleeting and then disappears altogether. This means that this beer would be an excellent beer to pair with lots of lighter foods, because it’s not going to overpower lighter flavors. On the other hand, it would be completely overwhelmed by something strongly flavored, like a curry.
Overall, this is a really easy beer to drink, just pleasant and undemanding. It’s a relaxing beer. It’s complex enough not to be boring, but easy enough that it won’t demand all of your attention. I’m surprised at how much I ended up liking it – Belgian-style ales and I have a very hit-or-miss relationship, and I tend to prefer the brews actually made in Belgium over their American- or Canadian-made counterparts.* That said, this beer is a really good example of the style, and I’d say to choose this over a Chimay any day. It tastes better, has a finer carbonation/bubble structure, and is significantly cheaper. So have some and enjoy!
*Canadialand has a fantastic Belgian-style brewing company, Unibroue, out of Quebec. They make good stuffs.