Summit Brewing Company’s Unchained Series hits a milestone today with the release of its tenth beer, Belgian Style Abbey Ale. It’s a Belgian Dubbel style beer brewed by Summit brewer Nate Siats, who also brought us the fifth beer in the series, Imperial Pumpkin Porter. Belgian styles are sometimes hard to pull off for American brewers. Many domestic renditions don’t quite live up to their Belgian models, often ending up too sweet or too boozy. Did Siats do justice to the dubbel? Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Bread crust and subtle dark fruits; dates. Prominent banana and sugary cotton candy (as I call that Belgian yeast character). Background of pepper and allspice.
Appearance: Clear amber/red with some chill haze early on. Creamy, ivory head with very fine bubbles that was moderately persistent; a ring of creamy foam remains around the edge of the glass all the way to the bottom. Nice lacing on a clean glass.
Flavor: Herbal hops kick things off, but quickly give way to bread crust and melanoidin sweetness. Dates, pears and raisins join in and linger into the finish. Highlight notes of sour fruit, like tart cherries. Moderate cotton-candy Belgian yeast character. Alcohol is apparent, but not hot. Dry and slightly tannic in finish with lingering notes of tea leaves.
Mouthfeel: Light-medium body. Effervescent high carbonation. Warms on the way down.
Overall: I love bread crust malt flavor in beer and that is the predominant flavor in this beer (at least on my palate). You have to let this beer warm just a bit to let that flavor come through. In fact, there is a tight temperature range for this beer; too cold and it comes off harsh and slightly sour, too warm and the flavors become murky. The tannic character that I get in the finish detracts a bit, but overall it’s a nicely balanced beer that is dangerously drinkable in the best Belgian tradition.
This new Summit brew can be sampled starting today at launch events throughout the metro.