Dubbel Brothers: Ampleforth Abbey Beer, Dubbel, 7.0% ABV
The monks of Ampleforth Abbey, on the edge of the North York Moors, have impressed many with their cider-making and cider brandy distilling in the last decade. Now they have created, along with Hebden Bridge’s Little Valley Brewery, a Belgian-style abbey dubbel. The launch has already been well-reported, with this Guardian article explaining that the ultimate aim is for production to move to the Abbey site, alongside their cider-making. Roger Protz believes the beer is brewed with Rochefort yeast.
The 7% bottle-conditioned dubbel pours a slightly russet cola colour, with no obvious yeast. The cream-coloured head disperses quickly. The aroma is of cocoa, nail varnish and cardamom. The mouthfeel initially seems thin for the ABV, quite cola-like and perhaps a little too sweet and easily drinkable, inviting gulps more than sips. But slowing down and swirling it around a little, I was rewarded with richer flavours, a little bit of raisin, dark chocolate and even some white pepper spiciness.
The beer is perhaps slighty less complex than the most interesting Belgian dubbels, and in my inexpert mind I wondered whether that may be related to the fact that the yeast seems more restrained than in those examples. Nonetheless this is a good beer, perhaps best enjoyed with some cheese or chocolate. It represents something to build on when, as I hope is the case, the brothers decide to brew an Ampleforth Tripel and an Ampleforth Abt.