Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Part one of a three part series of beers brewed in partnership between Sierra Nevada Brewing and New Clairvaux, an actual honest-to-god monastery in California. Ken Grossman, the owner of Sierra Nevada is extremely interested in traditional abbey ales, brewed with the seasons. It's a bold departure from the brewery's obvious strength, hoppy American ales.
Pours with an active foamy head that falls down to a coating on the beer after a minute or two. It's got a great red-brown, almost mahogany color. Cloudy, but that's to be expected with this style. It was a little cold when I first poured it, so as I'm warming it up the tell-tale Belgian aromas start to come out. There's toffee, caramel, some dark fruit, a little banana, and some bread in the nose. The mouthfeel is a little full and the carbonation is very fine, so there's a little tickle from it but it doesn't lift the beer off the palate. The flavors in this beer are nicely subtle and very well balanced. Sweetness can be expected from a dubbel, but here it's kept in check. There are certainly the classic notes of plum, fig, and even a little raisin here, but there's a bready/caramel-like backbone that carries most of the beer's flavor. Toast starts to become more obvious as the beer warms, adding a great additional layer.
It's easy to say this beer is well made, it has all the aspects of a dubbel that it should. What's more, this is probably the best dubbel I've ever had, all the others being repressively sweet or overly laden with raisin flavor. All that being said, I just think I'm not a big fan of the style. The sweetness is a bit much for me, but that's not to say this is a bad beer by any means. It stayed true to the tradition, and the result was something Americans don't often get to experience in it's fresh state; an honest-to-god American abbey ale.