The Lost Abbey Deliverance Ale Review: Bad Latin, Great Ale

Any brewery that uses champagne corks to seal its bottles is alright in my book. The Lost Abbey Brewery follows a tongue-in-cheek religious theme, based on Belgian monastic breweries of the Middle Ages. And although the Latin of their company motto, In Illa Brettanomyces Nos Fides (in brewer’s yeast we trust) lacks a little in the grammar department, still, I admire the whole feel and focus of the company. Of course, I am a bit partial to the Middle Ages.

The Lost Abbey Brewery is located in San Marcos (fitting), California, and is run by Tomme Arthur. It was founded in 2006. That is, unfortunately, the only information that the brewery is willing to offer online. Could it be that they are simply venerating the mysteries of the faith? Or, more likely, could it be that they are simply too lazy to post information about their history? I will let you, the faithful, decide.

The Lost Abbey Deliverance Ale (12.5% ABV) is billed as an American Strong Ale. That means that it is top-fermented and warm-fermented from malted grains, with a higher than usual alcohol content. But the company’s own description of Deliverance tantalizes us with a much more complex, promising origin:

A blend of bourbon barrel-aged Serpent’s Stout and brandy barrel-aged Angels Share, Deliverance is the epic battle being waged between heaven and hell for the souls of mortal men… and your enjoyment in a glass.

Wow. So Deliverance is a combination of two of the company’s other ales, each aged in a different sort of barrel. This really sounds amazing, and it only increases my faith in this ale. I was torn between examining the individual characteristics of Serpent’s Stout and Angels Share, but because aging and mixing can change the chemical composition, aroma, and flavor of an ale so greatly, I found it an exercise in futility, much as striving for heaven without repentance. I will say, though, that Serpent’s Stout, as an imperial stout, is thick, black, and sweet; and Angels Share is an ale that is aged for a year in bourbon barrels. I therefore expect the complexity of Deliverance to be as great as that of trying to contemplate eternity. I have faith in this ale. But, alas, faith without works is dead. So will Deliverance Ale fulfill its divine promises?

Everything On Tap Review: The Lost Abbey Deliverance Ale:

Bottle: All of The Lost Abbey’s bottles are gorgeous: dark-brown, almost black glass, with a flourished neck, sealed with a champagne cork. This is what ale bottles should look like. The label is in the shape of a tapered, stained-glass window, and the image is of a faithful penitent reaching toward the heavens as a ray of godly light shines down upon him. A bit cheesy? Sure, but still good fun. The lettering is an ecstatic hue of blue. This is truly a pious bottle.

Pour: The color is like the black of infinity. The head is as thin as the ground beneath a sinner’s feet, and the tan color of John the Baptist’s robes. It dissipates quickly, like Elijah being taken up to heaven, leaving not even a spirit of lacing.

Aroma: Like the fumes of a priest’s incense, the bouquet begins with a sinful waft of bourbon and rich brandy, accompanied by a delightfully decadent hint of chocolate. This is followed by the glory of vanilla bean, licorice, and woody oak, as well as some ethyl alcohol on the finish.

Flavor: Angels sing on the palate with this divine ale. The attack starts with strong ethyl alcohol, bourbon, and brandy. This quickly makes disciples of rich, decadent brownies, cake batter, yeast, espresso, and vanilla bean. The finish follows the Master with fig preserve, cherries, raisins (very clear), plums, and currants, with some caramel. I would normally be a bit averse to such a fruity, sweet ale, but the strong alcohol element balances this out brilliantly, much like God and Satan warring for the very essence of the ale.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick like holy oil. The feel is thick and creamy, as if from a land of milk and honey. The carbonation is very low like the Dead Sea, but it is still perfectly drinkable, thanks to the acidity of the alcohol.

Structure: Due to the fact that one of the ales used in this mixture is already aged, and due to the very complex mixture of ingredients, this is one of the most stable, broadly-structured ales that I have ever encountered. I believe that it would stand up well to even more aging in its mixed incarnation.

Food Pairing: Wow. The possibilities are almost endless here. This ale would be a match made in heaven for any sort of strong, complex food, like aged cheeses, Chinese century eggs, hung grouse, or live marinated crabs, as they eat in Guangdong Province, China. In fact, any sort of complex meal will embrace this ale as a spiritual brother.

Overall Rating Out Of 5 Possible Beer Mugs:

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