Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Belgium Brewing Company Grand Cru Abbey Ale

New Belgium Brewing Company produces some great beers, such as its Fat Tire Amber Ale.  However, the beers that truly get my attention are the special or limited edition beers.  These beers include those that are part of New Belgium's Lips of Faith Series. The Lips of Faith Series are small batch beers, usually produced for internal consumption.  I've previously reviewed one such beer, the Le Fleur, Misseur? Ale, which involved a very good use of Brettanomyces.   

Fortunately, Clare and I have a couple of friends in Colorado who provided us with a couple bottles from the Lips of Faith Series.  I decided that these beers deserved special treatment.  Not only would I do a review of the beer, but I would also research the food pairing for each beer.  Based upon my research, I would create a Chef Bolek Original dish.  I would serve the dish to Clare and myself while we tried the beer. 

The first beer that our friends provided us is New Belgium Brewing's Grand Cru Abbey Ale.  After every one thousand batches of beer brewed by New Belgium, a batch of the Grand Cru Abbey Ale is brewed.  The Grand Cru is a nod to the Abbey Ale, which was New Belgium's first beer.  The Abbey Ale has collected sixteen medals at the Great American Beer Festival, seven of which were gold medals.

The brewer uses an array of ingredients to brew this beer.  There are five malts used to make this beer, including Chocolate, Carapils, C-80, Pale and Munich malts.  There are also three hops used in the brewing process, including Willamette, Target and Liberty hops.

The Grand Cru Abbey Ale pours a nice amber and gold color, with a nice foam that hugs the edges  elements of the glass.  The aromatic elements of the beer foreshadow the alcohol in the beer,  which, after all, has an ABV of 9.5%.  The aroma is far more complex than alcohol.  There are also aromatic elements such as vanilla, sugar, cloves, and rum.  Some of these elements carry over to the taste of the Grand Cru.  At least for me, the beer is full of flavors that are associated with trappist beers, such as cloves, as well as cloves and caramel.  

In terms of food pairing, the brewer provides several suggested pairings on its website; however, one pairing caught my attention ... a roasted vegetable stew with dumplings.  Drawing my inspiration from roasted vegetables, I developed the dish, Seared Sea Scallop on a Roasted Root Vegetable Puree. The puree is made from roasted root vegetables, such as leeks, onions, carrots and radishes.  What ties the flavors of the puree to the flavors of the Grand Cru is the use of certain spices.  In particular, I used clove and coriander, which are intended to complement the clove and banana flavors in Grand Cru Abbey Ale.  The cloves and coriander also tie the root vegetable to the flavors of the protein ... the pan seared scallops.

For my first time creating a dish in order to pair it with a beer, I think I did a fairly good job.  I still have a lot to learn, but that is one of the reasons for this blog.  

With this beer, New Belgium declares, "[t]oast to the monk's virtue and have a heavenly experience."  In this case, both Clare and I toast the our friends' kindness and have enjoyed a very, very good beer.


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