The Lost Abbey - King of Tyre (RBC Exclusive)
Serving Temperature:52–60° F
Suggested Glassware:Snifter or Tulip
We’ve been loving Tomme’s work since his earliest days at Pizza Port, and this month we’re excited to offer an exclusive release from The Lost Abbey to our Rare Beer Club members. Tomme and Co. have blended together King of Tyre for us (referencing the story of Satan getting booted out of Heaven), and it’s delicious: about 70% of the blend is new barleywine, the remainder being dark strong ale that’s gotten aged in bourbon barrels for 15+ months. It results in a brilliantly structured blend of caramel, fruits, vanilla, and subtle bourbon. King of Tyre will be available exclusively through the Rare Beer Club and the brewery’s tasting room.
King of Tyre pours a very dark caramel-brown color, capped by a modest show of off-white foam that lingers along the perimeter. Golden around the edges, showing some nice viscosity overall—hinting at the overall impact of this beer. This offers up incredibly generous aroma notes even when cold, with an abundance of dark caramelized sugars, nougat, and ripe berry notes leading. Plenty of well-developed aging characteristics, but this remains fresh and lively and fruit-forward overall. Lots of caramelized complexity, brown sugar, and hints of cotton candy. The impact of those bourbon barrels gives this blend some welcome char and lightly warming bourbon notes for additional structure, extending the core barleywine’s oomph.
The Lost Abbey’s put together a vast, decadent, generous blend for us. The maltiness of the barleywine and dark strong ale provides the highly complex, beautifully caramelized base of operations, with dark caramel, brown sugar, and sherry notes throughout. It’s super smooth. Following the aromatics: we found ripe currants, blackberry, even hints of strawberry filling out the impact, bringing impressively developed fruity esters. Caramel and fruits play well off each other throughout. Softly underpinning carbonation offers everything a gentle lift, giving some space to all those elements in play. The bourbon-barrel presence gives secondary notes of charred wood, vanilla, almonds, and burnt sugar that work seamlessly with the barleywine and strong ale elements. With that deep caramelization and lush details throughout, King of Tyre is a one-of-a-kind barleywine experience from our friends over at The Lost Abbey.
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 20+ 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 (arguably the world’s greatest beer writer) 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 exclusive from Tomme and Co.: a barrel-aged blended barleywine called King of Tyre.
Lost Abbey’s King of Tyre is definitely up for some additional aging time, but it’s drinking great right now. Perfect to dig into on its own, we could also see the core caramel and fruit focus here working great alongside braised pork, or any number of vanilla-angled desserts.
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