De Proefbrouwerij & New Glarus Brewing Company - Brewmaster’s Collaboration: Abtsolution
- ABV: 9%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 48–57° F
- Suggested Glassware: Goblet, Tulip, Chalice or Pinot Glass
This 11th annual release in the Brewmaster’s Collaboration series from De Proef is especially exciting, as the brewery’s paired up with Dan Carey and the folks at New Glarus Brewing of Wisconsin on a pretty darn rare style: the elusive Belgian Abt. Think Belgian quadrupels, or Belgian dark strong ales, if you haven’t tried an abt before. This particular example (because it’s not like we’re messing around here) includes a ton of dark malts and spicy yeast qualities, along with special additions of Chinook and Santiam hops from Wisconsin. For a little extra dose of the Dairy State, the collaborating brewers added a hint of lactose, which contributes a heightened creaminess that works perfectly. The fact one can generally only get their New Glarus fix inside the state of Wisconsin (they’re not distributed beyond) is an added bonus.
The result is one beautifully handled Belgian abt that shows exactly what this traditional style can offer. This pours the color of dense caramel, lightly clouded and robust in appearance: a thick perimeter of gold around the edges, while finely bubbled medium-tan foam caps all the proceedings, lingering for quite a while. The abt style owns the middle-malt spectrum, as this offers up (even when first poured) loads of chewy caramelization, toffee and brown sugar. A toasty corner of vanilla and oak are well met by significant core fruit: dates, figs, dark cherry.
The special addition of lactose, along with the use of French and American oak, does lots of great work here without taking away from the central balance of the style: generous and well-presented caramelized sweetness, a peppery and fruity yeast character, plus a hint of warmth from the underlying alcohol. Like other world-class Belgian examples, we’re impressed with how light and vibrant this feels overall—packed with subtle bubbles, and benefitting from a drier ferment. This continues to evolve as it warms up: soft roast, chocolate, a hint of tannin.
De Proef and New Glarus designed this one to be enjoyed fresh, but it should also continue evolving nicely over the next couple years. As a caramel-focused beer, the onset of oxidation will be a bit less immediate, and we’d just keep our eyes on aging bottles to ensure they don’t lose their balance. The brewers advise pairing this with roasted meats and rich, sturdy cheese.
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