Friday, 24 December 2010

Beer Review no.5: St. Bernadus Abt 12, Abbey Ale (Watou, Belgium)

I started off this feature by talking about Britain returning to tradition with new artisan ale breweries and learning to appreciate what we already have.  But some countries don't need to do that because they never forgot about their fantastic their beer heritage, few more so than the Belgians.  Trappist brews have been created for centuries and every bottle has that whiff of the middle ages about it.  More than that many of them are considered amongst the very best beers in the world.  It's no stretch of the imagination to see the St. Bernadus Abt 12 as drawing on generations and generations of experience to make it, it's a fantastic beer, and the monks are generous enough to give it to the outside world without asking for a vow of celibacy.  Hallelujah!
This is a strong beer, with a 10% alcohol content.  What's so impressive is that despite this it remains fantastically subtle, controlled and balanced - more so than some of the beers I've tried with 3 or even 5% less alcohol.  Control is really the word.  Medium sweetness and mild bitterness with the tartness added by the light carbonation gives a lovely mouth-feel and excellent balance, which ensures that nothing gets in the way of the complex aromas and flavors going on alongside them.   Each mouthful releases different notes as the carbonation lowers and the temperature increases.  On initial opening smoke and chocolate were the big flavors.  These gave way, though never dissapeared, to fruit; cooked banana and lingering rasiny aftertastes, always undercut by a rich caramel flavor.  A fantastic beer and enjoyably drunk through a rich colored soft head.

A strong dark beer that stays refined is definitely something to be celebrated and this is a wonderful example, perfect for this time of year.  It gives all the complexity and interest you could want without becoming overpowering.  Highly recommended, even for those that normally go towards the hoppy end of the scale. 

Price: £3.60 from Utobeer (Borough Market)

No comments:

Post a Comment