The Lost Abbey - Devotion Ale
There is no shortage of passionate and creative artisanal brewers in the United States. With the exception of Belgium - and in recent years, there are those who would certainly argue this point - no country is offering a selection of beers, and eclectic styles, that can rival what is being done by the most devoted American craft brewers.
And as with all business in the U.S., there are the celebrities who are able to coax not only the most out of their beers, but out of how they are perceived by their loyal followers, as well. On the quieter side of this iconic din is a quite reverent — dare I say monk-like? — brewer by the name of Tomme Arthur.
Could he honestly have been named for a French cheese? One that is made from the skim milk that is left over after the cream has been used to make butter, and richer cheeses? While we have no personal relationship with his parents that might offer a definitive answer to that question, there are a few things about Tomme's inventive character that we have been fortunate enough to experience in recent years, as he has shared his calling with the club.
A native San Diegan, Tomme began his professional brewing career at the now closed Cervecerias La Cruda —The Hangover Brewery - in downtown San Diego. He developed his passion for brewing flavor-driven beers very early on. For a short time he also sold yeast for a major supplier in the southwest, before he became head brewer at Pizza Port in Solana Beach.
Celebrity came quickly to this soft-spoken brewer, generally as a result of gold medals at notable festivals being awarded to beers that were brewed in quantities so small that the only way to get them was to head for San Diego. Certainly a worthwhile jaunt for the seriously committed beer lover, but perhaps not always easy to justify.
After 8 years of providing very popular beers for the local market in southern California, and developing imaginative and complex beers like SPF 8 and Cuvee de Tomme — which he brewed for club members in earlier years — the company moved to a larger house when they purchased the original Stone Brewing facility. The new endeavor is called The Lost Abbey, with Tomme as its brewing operations director.
It is here that Tomme has been given the opportunity to truly expand his range, and is doing so with a line of beers that is modeled after both farmhouse and monastic traditions. All are bottle conditioned ales with wire wrapped cork-finish bottles. He calls them the “Non Demoninational” line of beers — inspired beers for sinners and saints alike. His impressive standard line includes a Biere de Garde-style, a spiced farmhouse quencher, and a pair of very rich trappist-style brews.
This month, as an exclusive brew for the club, he has created Devotion. It is a freshly fragrant and blonde abbey-style ale. Some added hoppiness give it a floral and truly California touch. At 6.25% alcohol it is a dangerously drinkable brew that makes a wonderful and sophisticated cocktail beer for the warmer months. As a food accompaniment, try it with seafood and vegetable dishes – the classic Belgian dish moules et frites seems a natural. Once again, Tomme has found a way to apply his own distinctive, yet reverent, touch to the time-honored brewing styles from Belgium. Enjoy this one while it lasts - Proost!
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