Monday, December 16, 2013

New Belgium Abbey Grand Cru Ale (9/10)

In honor of the arrival of Fort Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing’s products in Ohio, I’ll be presenting a few bonus reviews of their products this week in addition to the Christmas and winter seasonals.  First up is New Belgium’s Abbey Grand Cru Ale.  This is one of their “Lips of Faith” series of beers, which are special and sometimes limited run products.  Since its introduction in 1992, it’s won 16 medals at the Great American Beer Festival (7 of them gold medals).

Abbey Grand Cru Ale is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale brewed with Pale, Chocolate, Carapils, C-80, and Munich malts and bittered gently by Willamette, Target, and Liberty hops. 

It pours from the bottle a medium brown that’s clear and just slightly coppery in color.  The head is beige in color, about one and a half fingers thick, and lasts a while.
The aroma is very enticing.  You’ll get sweet malt, dark fruit, and a hint of cherry.

The flavor stacks up well against the aroma.  It starts sweet, with a strong malt and dark fruit presence.  This initial sweetness gives way to a well-balanced chocolate malt with warming alcohol presence with a touch of something like a dry red wine.  The finish is very mildly bitter and includes very dark chocolate and coffee notes. 

New Belgium suggests letting this one age, which I did for a few months.  They’re right.  While it’s an excellent beer when fresh from the brewery, given a few months in the cellar it becomes a bit better.  If you have the cellar space and the patience, I recommend buying and holding on to a bottle of this.  It does pay off.

For a change, I think Beer Advocate, Rate Beer, and I agree on one.  Beer Advocate rates Abbey Grand Cru 89-94Rate Beer gives it a 98.  My rating of 9 out of 10 is right in line with them.

Flavor Profile:
Sweet, Malty, Dry, or Bitter:  Sweet and Malty
Spice Level:  Low
Hops Level:  Low
Dominant Flavors:  Malty sweetness, dark fruit, dark chocolate, coffee
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: 20
My Rating: 9/10

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