Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oshkosh Beer of the Week: New Glarus Abt

There’s a strong, rich beer named Abt that just arrived in Oshkosh and it has come to hurt you. But this New Glarus Unplugged beer is so smooth and inviting you won’t mind the pain it leaves in its wake. Style-wise, Abt runs along the lines of a Belgian Dark Strong Ale and with that you know you’re in for a heavy beer. The amazing thing about this one is how lightly it carries its weight. The beer’s 9.6% ABV isn’t hidden, but it’s presented in such a mellow, rummy way that the heat of its alcohol is entirely welcome. There’s a lot going on in this beer. It pours deep, deep red with a thick aroma of over-ripe dark fruit. That aromatic heft is contradicted, though, by the beers surprisingly light, almost fluffy, mouthfeel. As the Belgians would say, this one is highly digestible. The mouthfeel is just about the only thing light about it. There’s a kaleidoscopic depth of flavor here that ranges from chocolate to sweet raisin to cola to brandied cherries. It all conspires to gently draw you in. Then it slaughters your resolve and warps time. It made my Wednesday morning come way too early.

You’ll find Abt at Festival Foods in Oshkosh residing in the high-end beer ghetto where it’s being held without refrigeration. That’s no way to treat a good beer! On the other hand, you don’t want to drink Abt straight from your refrigerator, either. Let it rest and warm for a good half-hour before you pop it open. I made the mistake of starting the first bottle a little too cold and that made the beer seem sharp and harsh. This is a beer that grows lush as it warms.

Homebrewers: If you like to play around with yeast, notice the spicy yeast character of Abt. Last Spring I brewed a Belgian Dubbel using White Labs WLP530 and that yeast seems very similar to the strain New Glarus is using for Abt. WLP530 is supposedly the Westmalle yeast and I was lucky to have a Westmalle Dubble around the house while I was drinking Abt so I opened that up, too, and found that the yeast profiles do have a lot in common. If you prefer Wyeast, their 3787 is supposed to be the same strain. Either way, this would be a fun beer to try to clone.

Bonus Beer: Just got word from Peabody’s that they have Gandy Dancer Porter, a new beer from Potosi, now on tap. I’ve yet to try this one, but the folks at Potosi say their porter is “a bit bigger, hoppier, and or roastier than their European predecessors.” If you like a good porter you might want to plan a stop at Peabody’s this weekend.

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