THE LOST ABBEY’S AVANT GARDE ALE is the third beer from their brewery we’ll be BrewViewing. The previous two BrewViews are: 10 COMMANDMENTS – October 15, 2013, and SAISON BLANC – November 16, 2014. The Lost Abbey has so many different and world class beers to choose from; however we wanted to do our first BrewView for a beer in the French Bière de Garde style.
Sad to say, the last time we had AVANT GARDE ALE was September 8, 2012. Here is a link to our BrewView at RateBeer.com under our moniker “Chimaybier.” Yes, we know… we can hear the “boos” out there for taking so long! Our apologies to The Lost Abbey. However it’s better late than never, right?
The brewery is most definitely ‘One to Watch’ as one that continues to innovate and inspire others. It seems that every month or so, the Lost Abbey is coming out with a new beer or an improvement on a seasonal beer.
It has been suggested that to impress the native Belgians on beers outside of their country is a great feat. We’ve spoken to a number of Belgians that quite like The Lost Abbey’s beers… we concur. More BrewViews on their beers will be forthcoming in 2015… but for now, we offer this one. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE LOST ABBEY / PORT BREWING
A few years and beers ago, Vince Marsaglia (one of the co-founders and half of the family duo that owns Pizza Port) was inspired by the numerous Abbey Style beers that he tasted and dreamed up a brewery project that produced a range of beers produced with a nod to the monastic brewing traditions of Belgium. As Vince imagined it, this brewery had no actual Abbey property involved, making it “lost” from the very beginning.
That all changed in 1997 when Tomme Arthur was hired to brew at Pizza Port in Solana Beach, California. In November of that year he released Dubbel Overhead Abbey Ale, the first Belgian-style beer ever brewed at Pizza Port.
A series of Overhead Ales was developed, and many other Belgian inspired beers soon followed. Tomme gained a reputation in the brewing industry and with consumers for his interpretation of classic Belgian Style beers as well as a cult like following for some of the most imaginative free spirited beers brewed in America. The emergence of the burgeoning San Diego Breweries along with an American Craft Brewing scene spearheaded by breweries like Dogfish Head, Russian River, Southampton Public House, Avery, Allagash and Pizza Port helped foster a movement towards small scale single batch unique beers.
After many years of small scale Pizza Port brewing Tomme and Vince began formulating a plan to bring these beers to a wider audience. Building on Vince’s original Belgian brewery vision, this new brewery would dedicate itself to a flavor-first brewing philosophy where thinking outside the box — and equally as important — brewing outside the box were the hallmarks. Uniquely crafted beers such as Cuvee de Tomme, Le Woody, Late Harvest, SPF 8 and SPF 45 Saison — and many others to come — would finally be made available on a scale that allowed more people to taste the vision in each bottle.
Today Port Brewing continues at the vanguard of craft brewing, ranked as one of the top 10 new breweries in the nation by both industry experts and enthusiasts alike, driven in large part by its extraordinary Lost Abbey beers and a library of 1000+ plus oak bourbon, brandy, sherry, and wine barrels that comprise one of the most remarkable barrel-aging programs for a craft brewery of any size. Distribution has also expanded to major cities and metropolitan areas throughout the country, allowing beer lovers to now enjoy fresh brewed Port products from coast to coast. (Source: The Lost Abbey)
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION FROM THE LOST ABBEY
Style category: Bière de Garde
At the Lost Abbey, we pride ourselves on producing beers of the highest quality and distinction. Avant Garde is our commitment to brewing beers to no particular style. Some might want to label this as a beer brewed in the Biere de Garde tradition of Northern France. We would prefer to say it was brewed in the Avant Garde style of beers that will reward all those who seek the not so ordinary. Deep gold in color with hints of biscuits, caramel and fresh baked bread, this beer is sure to delight the senses and palates of consumers everywhere. Available in 750ml bottles and on draft at select inspired locations.
AROMA: An enticing blend of ripened orchard fresh fruit (green apples), and warm bread pulled just from the oven.
TASTE: An enticing blend of ripened orchard fresh fruit (green apples), and warm bread pulled just from the oven.
PAIR WITH: We feel this is an ideal match for a wide range of foods. We developed Avant Garde to pair with rustic cheeses and warm loaves of bread. It also is a match for most chicken and fish pairings as well.
OUR BREWVIEW OF THE LOST ABBEY- AVANT GARDE ALE
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
7.0% ABV. Poured into a tulip-shaped glass, and served at 45°F. Pours a light-medium golden color- SRM value 4. The white colored head pours an easy 3 finger height, with large and small bubbles; extremely dense and extremely rocky. The head sustains very well and lasts a good amount of time. The rim color variation is slightly lighter.
As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is extremely thick and even, what we call “spider web” patch lacing. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). The meniscus is medium, leaning on slow rising. There was a cloudy haze to the beer, due to the bottle conditioning / yeast sedimentation.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The aeromatics are of fresh baked bread, (just pulled from the oven) crisp, green Granny Smith apples, but the lager yeast used to ferment this beer has a soft sulfury bouquet to it. Little bit of pepper, little bit of the citrus, bet very vague.
The first sip indicates that it is “round”. That is more likely a “mouthfeel / palate sensation. It does not assault any one particular flavor profile on the tongue in particular. It has a nice crisp, dryness to it, but not overly so. There is a nice hop component to it, but not in a way that would not offend.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
This beer is unique that it is made with a “lager” yeast but fermented with the lager yeasts at “ale temps. Again, the mouth feel is round, smooth, yet “fully characteristic.” It’s not too hoppy, the malt backbone is at a point where is it a departure from the typical Bière de Garde style. There is a touch of acidity, but not to the point that it will offend someone who is not used to it.
This beer is a conundrum for sure. It still pleases the hardcore beer drinkers of the style, yet The Lost Abbey calls it it’s “gateway” beer to those who may try a solid, well made craft beer for the first time.
There is a nice hop component to it, but it is not too assaulting to those trying craft beers for the first time.
There are is a nice bouquet, and a nice flavor profile, which leaves the experienced drinker confident that he or she could recommend this beer to their friend, leaving them with a great first impression.
The granny smith apple bouquet with the pepperiness is one to savor. The drinkability factor is very high with this beer.
As it warms up, the fresh biscuit aroma comes into play. Even though it is fermented with a lager yeast, it does not drink like a beer that is made with one.
Tomme Arthur and all at The Lost Abbey certainly made well use of the lager yeast stains under such temperate conditions. Most brewers trying ferment lager yeasts in warmer climates wind up with “interesting” results.. and that’s putting it kindly.
This is a very well made beer, it’s one of the “staples” of The Lost Abbey. Tomme Arthur took a classic beer style and made it his own. Its just a good, all-around, country style, farmhouse ale. What’s nice is that as you re-pour the beer into your glass into your consumption time, the head recreates this dense, thick head. As the beer warms up, the Granny Smith green apple bouquet comes through even more- Avant Garde Ale is one of those beers whose flavor profile improves throughout your time with it. The hop component is just right- its not too overpowering, this is a beer that lets you know it is a “craft beer.” It is artisanal, and well thought out.
Our hats off to Tomme Arthur and to all at The Lost Abbey- this is an excellent beer, and a perfect one to convert your macro beer drinker friends to the road of craft beer happiness… go find it today.