To celebrate my return to college on Monday, we went for an early evening drink in the Abbot's Ale House. In truth, the only reason I wanted to go out at all was because I had seen on Facebook that Abbot's had St Bernardus Abt 12 on tap. They've already given me some of my all time favourite beers on tap in the form of Piraat and Tripel Karmeliet, so why not complete the bunch. Fingers crossed for Rochefort 10 in a few weeks then...
I like my Quads served at room temperature, or just a little bit chilled, so I ordered my Abt 12 with another beer, to enjoy while the former warmed up. That other beer was Kozel Dark, a Czech dark lager with a very sessionable 3.8%. It pours a dark mahogany colour that looks black apart from the highlights of red visible through the base. The head is small, off-white and surprisingly creamy. There's not a whole lot to the aroma, but I do pick up some lager sweetness, with malty chocolate and toffee darkening things down quite a bit. When the beer warmed up a small bit, the aroma really reminded me of a Tootsie Roll, in a good way - Tootsie Rolls taste horrible, but the smell is good here. Thankfully, there's none of the American 'chocolate' candy in the flavour of Kozel, which instead delivers nice dark sweet malts along with a good fist of raisins, toffee and a very light finish. The body's medium to light, and I have to say it's a tasty beer. There's a very understated hop profile and practically no bitterness, but the light sticky malt lingers long after the sip.
|St Bernardus Abt 12|
By now, it was time for the main act. This St Bernardus Abt 12 pours a thick, murky, dark brown. It sports a nice small head that never dissipates, and leaves behind a speckled lace. Already, I'm thinking of the body. The aroma is surprisingly subdued, but there is a lovely warm malt character to it, and more than a hint of chocolate. The rich Christmas pudding fruits from the bottled version are sadly nowhere to be found on the nose. Thankfully, all is redeemed in the taste. Because it's amazing. Deep dark woody malts, the elusive dark fruit, chocolate, toffee, hints of caramel and a hot whiskey-like finish. The body's full, smooth and creamy. Beautifully rich stuff with great complexity, another winner.
It was a Monday evening and I'd got what I came for, so that was going to be it, until I realised they still had Barbar on tap. I love honey, I love beer, what could go wrong with a half of pint of the stuff? Not much, actually.
Barbar pours a slightly hazy gold with a very small film of head. The aroma is certainly sweet, but has much more lemon than anything else. As the beer warms up, there are little hints of honey, but only just. Glycerin honey and lemon comes to mind, and that's nicer than it sounds. The taste is delicious, with juicy lemon opening and with a very light hint of honey toward the finish. Warm sweet malts are there throughout, and the beer is much more drinkable than the 8% ABV would suggest. Nice stuff, would definitely go for one again.
The Abt 12 is a classic, the Barbar is a lovely curiosity and the Kozel is an unsophisticated but enjoyable dunkel. A successful evening, I reckon.