Monday, August 30, 2010

Ommegang Abbey Ale

Once again the end of the month is upon us and as I sit watching another episode of "The Great Food Truck Race" (a show I have a love-hate relationship with due to the fact that I pitched something like this to Food Network about 10 months ago only to be met with blank stares and suggestions to make it more like "Pimp My Ride for roach coaches" Braaagghhhh, stupid dumb damn TV execs!!!) I am writing this one one the fly - no drafts, no notes, no plan. This week I'm tackling a more well-known microbrew in Ommegang Brewery's Abbey Ale. In addition to the run-and-gun writing of this post, I've also added a new glass to my drinking arsenal. How can this not  be an exciting read!?!
The Beer:
Employing a brand new Trappist glass to maximize the taste, aroma, and colors of this fine ale, I found myself somewhat overwhelmed by the first few sips. Abbey Ale brought forth strong spiced notes and a slight woody taste as if it were aged in oak barrels (which admittedly, I have no knowledge of it is or not). It also presented itself with a strong taste of licorice. A taste that I'm not particularly fond of. A taste that was sticking in my mouth and my brain convincing me that I wasn't going to be able to get through the required 36oz (3 beers) to complete this month's experiment. But, like any good potentially-allergic-blogger, I soldiered on for you the reader! After the first beer was done, I took a short break had a few sips of water and poured the next one into the Trappist. While it could have been that my palate was now familiar with the wave of flavors about to hit it, maybe it was just that the second one got a better pour. I allowed the copious amount of foam to develop without getting too thick to drink. And beer number two went down much smoother and quicker than the first. Ok, perhaps all was not lost. Maybe this was a more acquired taste that would mean beer number three would be a home run. Well, instead of a home run, it was a Bill Buckner - complete flop and something I almost couldn't finish. I don't think it was necessarily a bad beer at all. In fact, I have one bottle left in the fridge that I anticipate having sometime later this week.
The Buzz:
So, much like the beer itself, the buzz from Abbey Ale provided complex results. I knew going into this month's beer test that I would be fighting fatigue no matter what I tried or when. It's been a hellish month of 60-hr work weeks leaving me completely spent by Saturday nights. But, with the support of a new glass to try out and a hotly anticipated UFC pay-per-view, I had hopes that I'd be able to push past that sleepiness and pound down the 4-pack. Unfortunately, that was not quite how the night went down. The glass lost its luster after its first two pours ('s a glass! Seriously, how much excitement did I really expect to get out of a freakin' glass!). Also, my go-to drinking event, UFC 118, turned out to be so boring that I fell asleep during the last fight (after the 3rd beer). The last, 5-round championship rematch fight! That's a perfect barometer of a) how boring it was, and b) how tired I was. Typically, in that instance I'd be going for that fourth beer excited that I had it reserved for events just as this. Alas, all I can infer is that the 8.5% abv that Abbey Ale packed was sufficient enough to knock me out before midnight.
The Hangover:
The mixed results that I had with both the taste and buzz from Abbey Ale decided to continue into the next day with one of the weirdest hangovers I can remember in quite some time. My hangovers typically manifest them selves as either a headache, stomachache, or worst-case scenario - both! This time however, it was like a pseudo-headache that felt like I was in an all-day fog. I slept fairly well having had my typical hangover cocktail early in the morning before going back to bed for a few hours. The absolutely bizarre dreams I had however, combined with sleeping so hard on my arms that I woke up to numb limbs, caused me to feel like I had just awoken from some deep, dangerous, life-altering surgery.  Half my body was on fire, while the other half was frozen. I couldn't mobilize properly and woke up to being more tired that I had felt in weeks. It was as if I had been up all night working out or getting beat on (which I suppose is possible if I was so passed out that my tough-as-nails Boxer, Murdoch, decided to walk all over me during the night). But the hangover stuck around until about 3pm when it finally dispersed only to reappear after dinner all over again. But it wasn't the worst hangover. It wasn't the pain of the Lagunitas Copper Ale or even the discomfort from last months Shipyard XXXX IPA. It was something different and foreign. I could deal with it well enough to function, I just wish I had had the entire Sunday to lay on the couch and watch old Jerry Orbach episodes of Law & Order. I miss you Lenny Briscoe...L&O hasn't ever been the same without you.

The Verdict:
After only having a few days to gather my thoughts and post this blog, I have to say that Ommegang's Abbey Ale fell into the middle of the craft brew pack for me. It clearly was a mixed bag for me. In taste, buzz, and hangover, my body and brain couldn't get on the same page as this American Belgian Brew.  I think that I'd certainly try other selections from Ommegang's brewery. They do hail from one of the greatest American towns, Cooperstown, NY. And they are known for award-winning Belgian Ales here in America. But on this particular day and this particular test, I have to say that they didn't quite make it to my list of awesomeness.
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