The Lost Abbey - A Creator's Calling
Serving Temperature:50–57° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Teku, Snifter, or Pinot Glass
We’re super pumped to be able to offer our Rare Beer Club members an exclusive from The Lost Abbey, an incredible blend of barrel-aged and un-aged Wee Heavy beers that each offer very different contributions to the final blend. This beer has never been released before, and it will only be available through the brewery’s tasting room and to Rare Beer Club members.
Lost Abbey’s A Creator’s Calling pours a dense, brown-sugar and cola color, capped with a slight tan head. There’s lots of rich caramelization immediately apparent in the aromatics here, as touches of crème brûlée, toasted almond, and burnt sugar spin into pretty complex layers. A robust core of roasted malts and licorice brings some darker components into this beer, but it never treads into imperial-stout turf or anything like that: it’s firmly caramelized, fruitier, Wee Heavy turf, as potently as we can recall it. Cherries, apples, dates, plum...
For how hefty this beer is ABV-wise, it somehow feels effortlessly soft on the palate. There’s just enough carbonation underpinning huge layers of rich caramelization, toffee, licorice, and brown sugar—everything rolled up carefully into a massively impactful Wee Heavy blend. As a vinous, rounded undercurrent, the alcohol shows through as a modestly warming piece and lightens the overall feel, helping keep this lean. There’s so much going on in this beer, from the intricate levels of caramelization to the complex fruits that unfold. Do share this one.
Most of the beer geeks in the readership will instantly recognize the names “Port Brewing” or “The Lost Abbey”, or “Tomme Arthur”—a gifted brewer associated with both. All have come to mean excellence in brewing along with envelope-pushing, boundary-testing beers.
Walk into the original Pizza Port location in Solana Beach, CA, about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego, expecting to take in what the wellspring of San Diego’s craft-brewing scene ‘looks like’ and you might be confused. Here you find rows of picnic-style benches with mass-seating, an informal, order-at-the-counter pizza place staffed by primarily college-aged kids who seem like they are taking a short break from surfing to take your food and drink order. Looks can be deceiving—were it not for the brewing vessels visible behind the counter or the eclectic list of beers and style/flavor descriptions above the beer-order counter, you might think this place was “Budweiser and Coronas & lime only.” Instead, you see everything from younger crowds to families with kids in tow, all chowing down on great oven-fresh pizzas and drinking pitchers and pints of some truly world-class beers. All served with that distinctly California laidback demeanor.
So how did it come to pass that a basically beach-front pizza shop started making some seriously high gravity, intense, world-class beers? The founders and owners of Pizza Port, Gina and Vince Marsaglia, set up shop in Solana Beach 23 years ago in 1987, and Tomme Arthur started working there as head brewer ten years later (they’ve since opened up various additional locations—each with amazing beers and food). A native San Diegan, Tomme was proud to promote his hometown as an up-and-coming center for better beer, with his own work right at the forefront of that claim. While his professional brewing career had started less than 18 months prior to joining Pizza Port, he had already worked on a beer with his former employer that brought San Diego its 2nd gold medal ever from the Great American Beer Festival. In his ongoing efforts to promote San Diego as a great beer city, Tomme worked to create many unique beers, and his ongoing experiments included revolutionary techniques of oak-aging beers, incorporating fruits, herbs and spices along with numerous wild yeasts and micro-organisms. Each of these experiments further emboldened him to try new processes as he and the brewers of Pizza Port Solana Beach “sought to make the most interesting beers possible.” During the eight-plus years that Tomme was head brewer in Solana Beach, the brewery won 13 Great American Beer Fest medals. In 2003 and 2004, Pizza Port Solana Beach was named Small Brewpub of the Year.
So what then is “The Lost Abbey?” The concept started in Vince Marsaglia’s mind when he was inspired by the various Abbey beers he had tried from Europe. When Tomme Arthur joined the crew, he started brewing beers that were Belgian- and Abbey-inspired creations. Of course, to be an Abbey beer, per se, you need an Abbey. And while one could argue that Tomme Arthur is the head of a beer cult comprised of followers approaching quasi-religious devotion, there is no such secular organization affiliated with the Port Brewing beers. Hence, this is a line of beers inspired by Abbey and Belgian traditions, but with no Abbey (hence “the lost” abbey). Since many of Tomme’s most revolutionary creations fell into this loose theme, a number of the beers brewed under the Pizza Port or Port Brewing name have been moved over to their new home within The Lost Abbey line. For more information about the brewery and the Pizza Port restaurants, check out lostabbey.com and pizzaport.com.
The world’s greatest beer writer, Michael Jackson, was a big fan of Tomme’s beers, and we know he would have loved this month’s Rare Beer Club exclusive: A Creator’s Calling.
This one definitely has some longevity to it, given the hefty ABV and tight construction. But keep in mind that a good portion of it has already spent a substantial amount of time in oak barrels, and it’s blended to be especially drinkable right now. We’re digging it fresh. In terms of pairings, we’d definitely go on the spicy, burly side for this. Jalapeño pork. Peppery steak?
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