The Abalus project began early in 2019 with various trial brews of Baltic Porter, a departure from the Belgian styles we normally brew. Baltic Porter is the Baltic region’s interpretation of Imperial Stouts – very strong dense beers commissioned from London Porter breweries in the1780’s by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. The Baltic brewers used lager yeast and locally available ingredients, giving their version the punch of an Imperial Stout with a lighter body and much more drinkability. Our favourite trial brew was potent - 11.5%. The beer was rich and deep, with aromas of dark chocolate, butterscotch and freshly brewed coffee, warmth on the palate, leading to fig jam and apple treacle flavours and finishing with a pleasant bitterness. This excited us and lead us to the idea to brew it in a commercial batch and barrel-age it to further develop flavour. Red Tripel, our take on the Tripels brewed by the Belgian Trappist Monastery breweries, was selected to be the companion beer in the series. It’s a complex beer, full-bodied, warming and malty, with additional caramel and fruity flavours. After some searching, we found reassuringly expensive Cognac casks from France and Whiskey casks from Ireland (thanks to Grace O'Malley Whiskey), allowing us to demonstrate the effects of aging in different barrel types on the same beers. We dropped the level of carbonation somewhat in these beers as this allows the full flavours to be experienced.
Barrel-aging is a complex process. At Mescan Brewery, the beers are first fully matured in stainless steel bulk tanks - this can take six months or more. The barrels are then filled and aged for many more months to allow the magic to happen. The whole procedure is expensive and time-consuming but also very exciting - at the end of the aging period there is always a chance that the beer might not match our expectations. The first tasting is an anxious moment… In the case of all four incarnations in the Abalus series our expectations were not
only met, but exceeded.
The beers in the Abalus series are very suitable for maturing at cellar temperatures. We are delighted with their progression so far – currently they have already been cellared at 10°C for 4 years - and we expect them to continue to evolve over the next 10 years.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.