The Lost Abbey - Baby Moses (RBC Exclusive)
- ABV: 12%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 40–45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Chalice, Tulip, or Teku
The Lost Abbey’s Baby Moses is a blend of a non-barrel-aged imperial stout and a bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine, and it showcases the incredible success this brewery has had with its barrel-aging and blending programs. We’ve been excited about this release ever since we first started discussing blending options with Tomme. This particular combo was a little different: a mashup of two expressive dark styles that naturally find a ton of common ground. There’s espresso, mocha, some Belgian candi sugar in there, and the overall package just works great. This one’s a Rare Beer Club exclusive and will be available solely through the club along with a limited amount through the Lost Abbey taproom.
This imperial stout/barleywine blend pours a deep, dark chocolate-brown color, allowing just a bit of light to get through at the edges. Modest tan foam, and just exuberant amounts of early aromatics: beautifully developed dark chocolate and roasted malts, licorice, lightly sweet caramelization… Lots of rich specialty-malt toastiness and barrel influence.
The impactful chocolates and roasted elements of the unbarreled imperial stout lead in Baby Moses, but there’s also a ton of chewy red fruits and caramelization putting things together underneath, courtesy of the bourbon-barrel barleywine component. Tons going on. It’s also very easy to dig into this blend, highlighting creamy milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow as focal points. There’s chewy, nicely caramelized, warming barleywine presence throughout, and the light char and tannic roundness of the bourbon barrel provide welcome structure. It was interesting to try to figure out what elements come from what part of the blend. We’re very grateful for our longstanding relationship with the good folks over at The Lost Abbey, and we’ve proud to be able to offer this delicious new release as a Rare Beer Club exclusive. We hope you love it as much as we did.
This blend will continue to age gracefully and develop for at least a few years in the bottle, or longer. Nicely balanced as is, but certainly could tolerate some additional caramel character. This seems super versatile with food pairings given the way it melds those imperial stout and barleywine spaces. Roast, caramel, and dark chocolate have this primed for grilled steaks or a variety of dessert courses. Vanilla-focused fare would counterpoint nicely.
Many of the beer geeks in our 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. You’ll find rows of picnic-style benches for mass seating, plus an informal, order-at-the-counter pizza place staffed by primarily college-aged kids who seem like they might be taking a short break from surfing to take your food and drink order. Looks can be deceiving, though. 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 a ‘Budweiser and Coronas & lime only’ place. 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 Californian 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 30+ 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 Festival 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, though, you need an Abbey. And while one might argue Tomme Arthur is the head of a beer cult comprised of followers approaching quasi-religious devotion, there’s no actual religious organization affiliated with these beers. Hence, these are a line of beers inspired by Abbey and Belgian traditions, but with no actual Abbey (leading us to... 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 in The Lost Abbey lineup. For more information about The Lost Abbey and the Pizza Port restaurants, visit lostabbey.com and pizzaport.com.
Rare Beer Club’s founder Michael Jackson—one of the world’s greatest beer writers—was a big fan of Tomme’s beers, and the club featured a number of those early Pizza Port releases (Cuvee de Tomme, SPF 8 Saison, etc.). We think that Michael would’ve loved this month’s selection from Tomme and Co.: Baby Moses, a blend of non-barrel-aged imperial stout and bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine, made exclusively for the Rare Beer Club.
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