Billy's Beer Blog - A Layman's Guide to Great Beer


Posts Tagged ‘Abbey Ale’


August 29th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

We took an full day tour of the stupendous Biltmore

I later enjoyed a Great Gatsby Abbey at the Grove Park Inn

Asheville, NC is known as a hotbed for all things artisan, in addition to being named Beer City USA 2010 by a recent poll. Its beauty and charm has long been known by many of this country’s elites as well, which is why George Washington Vanderbilt II chose to build Biltmore Estate, the nation’s largest privately-owned home, in 1895. It consists of 250 rooms and 175,000 square feet spread out over 75 acres, equivalent to 140 Central Parks! Anne and I took a tour of this incredible mansion, and also had time to stop by Cedric’s Tavern, located on the estate, to enjoy drinks and a bite to eat.

I had a beer called Cedric’s Pale Ale (Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; American Pale Ale; ABV: 5.0-6.0?), which was crafted for the Biltmore by Highland Brewing. Named after the beloved St. Bernard of George Vanderbilt, Cedric’s is a smooth, amber colored APA with notes of caramel malt and English hops complimented by hints of sweet fruit. This ale is quite refreshing from start to finish, and the estate plans to eventually brew it onsite in the future. It fully complimented the Italian Tuna Salad Sandwich that I ate for lunch.

After we finished the tour, we drove onto the Grove Park Inn for drinks and a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Completed in 1912 and renovated in 2007, this inn has served as a vacation retreat for celebrities and dignitaries alike. I started with an abbey named in honor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who came here on an annual basis to either vacation or write.

Highland Grove Park Inn Great Gatsby Abbey Ale (Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; Abbey Ale; ABV: 7.0-8.0?) is a full-bodied abbey with notes of caramel, German malt, and floral hops. It pours a chestnut color, and is a silky, easy drinking ale.

We finished at GPI by having dessert and a final round of drinks. I had the Highland Black Mocha Stout (Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; American Stout; ABV: 5.3), an outstanding chocolate stout. The chocolate presence is complimented by notes of roasted malt and earthy hops, and had a cappuccino like feeling to it. Black Mocha paired well with the chocolate cake that I had for dessert.

Each of these beers were a perfect compliment to the day, and highly recommended.

Cedric's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sunset Terrace - Grove Park Inn on Urbanspoon

An Exit Worth Taking

April 16th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You won't detour from Exit 4

I recently read an article in Men’s Journal magazine naming the Top 25 Beers in America for 2009. One of them, an ale from Flying Fish in New Jersey, was voted the Best Belgian Style beer. Being an former resident of the Garden State, and having friends who know the owners of this brewery, I was curious to give it a try.

Flying Fish Exit 4 (Flying Fish Brewing Co.; Cherry Hill, NJ; Tripel; ABV: 9.7), named for the NJ Turnpike exit, is an excellent abbey tripel. It pours a hazy golden amber color, and the nose is a blend of floral hops and citrusy fruit. They’re quite apparent in the taste as well, complimented by sweet malt, cloves, and spices with a slightly bitter finish. Although its ABV is nearly 10%, Exit 4 is nonetheless quite smooth and very easy to drink.

While I think that its #1 ranking among Belgian style beers is a bit of a stretch, Exit 4 is still highly recommend by me. Be sure to pick one up next time you’re heading down the ‘Pike!

Do The Wat(o)usi

February 22nd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Watou Tripel will leave you dancing for joy

St. Bernardus is truly one of the world’s greatest breweries. Every beer that I have had from them has been nothing less than excellent. It’s amazing to think that I haven’t even drank even just an average or good ale from them, let alone one that was mediocre! And the latest offering that I had from this brewery reinforced my beliefs.

I ordered a bottle of St. Bernardus Watou Tripel (St. Bernard Brouwerij NV; Watou, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 7.5) recently at World of Beer. Watou is a superb and well balanced abbey tripel. There’s a sweet malt taste up front, complimented by a hint of banana and other citrusy fruit, honey, and spices. The finish is crisp and clean, and this ale has a feeling to it that appears much lighter than its 7.5% ABV. Watou is very drinkable, and takes its place among other exceptional tripels such as Triple Karmeliet, La Caracole Saxo, and their standard St. Bernardus Tripel.

For fans of Belgian ales, and St. Bernardus in particular, this recommendation is a no brainer.

Making My Case

February 20th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Green Flash Imperial IPA makes a strong case

Another year, another Best Beers list. I decided to do a new slant on this year’s All-Time Favorites post, and create my dream case. The criteria is as follows:

a. Retired beers have been omitted. Ales such as DuClaw Repent, Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA, and Thomas Hardy’s Ale were among my favorites, but I want to list beers that are currently available to everyone.

b. Extreme beers, e.g. ABV of 20% or more, have been omitted as well. Samuel Adams Utopias and BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin have more in common with a liquor than a conventional beer.

c. I’ve limited the list to one beer per brewery. This not only prevents the list from getting too top heavy with certain breweries, e.g. St. Bernardus, DFH, Stone, etc., but also allows me to feature some excellent regional brews as well. Although one beer on this list, Life & Limb, is a collaboration between DFH & Sierra Nevada, it’s technically considered to be brewed from the latter and will be listed under that brewery.

And now, without further adieu, is my Ultimate Case, 2010 Edition:

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen; Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla; Bamberg, Germany; Rauchbier; ABV: 5.4. Brewed in the classic rauchbier tradition, this marzen has an incredible smoky nose and taste to match. The big hickory smoke bite reminds me of smoked bacon, sausage, etc., and there’s a hint of malt and light hops as well.

Anchor Old Foghorn; Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 8.8. An exceptional barley wine from Anchor Brewing. The toffee and sweet caramel malt is balanced by dark fruit, citrusy hops, & spices. This ale has the taste and feel of a classic English barley wine.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. This is an absolutely superb doppelbock. The rich malty taste is complimented by hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. Wunderbar!

Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. An absolute hop bomb! The uber hoppy presence is well balanced by sweet malt and a taste of honey. Truly one of the best IPAs out there.

Brewer’s Art Ozzy Ale; Brewer’s Art; Baltimore, MD; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. A smooth & crisp tasting Belgian style ale. There’s a nice array of floral hops and Belgian spices, with a slight peppery finish at the end.

Brooklyn Black OPS; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0. A truly outstanding Russian Imperial stout from Brooklyn. A wonderfully complex mix of chocolate, roasted malt, and spices. Like a chocolate milkshake with a kick!

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Old Ale; ABV: 10.0. An excellent old ale from the outstanding brewery Cigar City. There’s a hint of tobacco up front, followed by an array of chocolate, caramel malt, sweet fruit, and cinnamon spices with a slightly bitter finish.

Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.8. A big, bold hop bomb. The citrusy hops hit you up front, and are balanced by sweet caramel & a piney finish.

Dogfish Squall IPA; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. An unfiltered, bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped version of their 90 Minute IPA. The taste is bold and complex. There’s a gust of citrusy, piney, and spicy hops up front, complimented by sweet caramel and a malty presence at the end.

Green Flash Imperial IPA; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. Smooth, nutty, & spicy. A crisp citrusy burst up front, complimented by sweet malt and a piney hops finish. Another of the classic West Coast IPAs.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 16 Reserve; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0. A superior ale aged in a 16 year old whiskey cask. The hint of whiskey is complimented by chocolate, dark malt, and vanilla spices. Similar to an Imperial Porter, it’s very smooth and robust with an exceptional finish.

La Caracole Saxo; Brasserie Caracole; Farmignoul, Belgium; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. An incredibly smooth Belgian strong pale ale. The 8% ABV isn’t noticeable, and the sweet malt taste is complimented by citrusy hops, light fruit, and spices. Saxo finishes crisp and clean, and I could drink this ale all day.

New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale; New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; Belgian Dark Ale; ABV: 5.5. While their excellent Fat Tire is better known, this is actually the best beer crafted by New Belgium. This would easily be my session beer if I could get it here in Florida. The nutty taste is well balanced by subtle hints of sweet caramel, roasted coffee, & cocoa chocolate.

Ommegang Ommegeddon; Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another outstanding Belgian style ale from Ommegang. This saison is very crisp and refreshing. There’s a nice bite of tart and citrusy fruit up front, balanced by Brettanomyces yeast, sweet malt, and grassy hops with a clean dry finish.

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.5. While the alcohol is a bit more noticeable than their original Dead Guy Ale, it still compliments the sweet malt, caramel, & cascade hops to deliver a rich & smooth tasting beer. In short, as enjoyable as the original maibock, but more complex & certainly with more of a kick.

Russian River Pliny The Elder; Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another big & bold IPA with a surprisingly smooth taste. The grapefruit flavor up front highlights the array of citrusy hops, and is complimented by roasted malt & caramel. The finish is crisp & clean.

Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; English Porter; ABV: 5.0. The quintessential English porter. A creamy, coffee tasting beer balanced by hints of chocolate & malt.

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 10.2. A collaboration between Dogfish and Sierra Nevada, it took a lot of effort to find this beer, but the hunt was definitely worth it! This is a very complex beer to say the least. I noticed a smoky, almost tobacco like taste up front, followed by chocolate, sweet molasses, dark fruit, and possibly a little vanilla as well. There’s even a woody feel to Life & Limb that reminds me of Dogfish’s own Palo Santo Marron, albeit a slightly lighter version.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. This pick surprised me, as I’m always singing the praises of their Southern Tier Unearthly (Southern Tier Brewing Company; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0). Pumking, however, is quite simply the best of the pumpkin ales and deserves to be on this list. It’s bold & spicy with a wonderful pumpkin taste from start to finish. There’s even a hint of pie crust in the flavor! For my hop-head moments, I would substitute this choice for Unearthly, which is quite possibly the best IPA around. A wonderful full bodied ale, the citrusy hops taste is well balanced by sweet malt. It’s very smooth for a hop bomb!

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 8.6. An absolutely outstanding Belgian strong ale. Brewed on a limited basis annually, Epic is both smooth and complex. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, vanilla, orange peel, and spices.

St. Bernardus Abt 12; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.5. A wonderfully complex balance of spices, ripe fruit, & sweet malt. The gold standard of Belgium quads, and one of the world’s best beers period.

Terminal Gravity IPA; Terminal Gravity Brewing Co.; Enterprise, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.9. This IPA has a big reputation in the Northwest, and it’s well deserved. The big citrusy hops up front are complimented by hints of caramel & a sweet malt finish.

Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine; Three Floyds Brewing Co.; Munster, ID; Barley Wine; ABV: 12.5. An superb offering from the acclaimed Three Floyds Brewery. Behemoth has a sweet caramel taste up front, which is complimented by hints of tart fruit, raisins, roasted malt, and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Tripel Karmeliet; Brouwerij Bosteels; Buggenhout, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.4. An absolutely outstanding abbey ale. The taste is quite smooth, with a nice array of citrus fruit up front complimented by sweet malt. flowery hops, and spices.

Honorable Mention 6-Pack:

Boundary Bay Imperial IPA; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.5. This IPA is an absolute hop bomb, with the big Cascade hops taste well balanced by roasted malt & a piney finish.

BrewDog Dogma; BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 7.8. A very crisp and drinkable beer. The taste is well balanced between the sweet malt, honey, kola nut, poppy seed, guarana, and spices with a nice clean finish. Its alcohol content of nearly 8% isn’t noticeable, so Dogma has the feel of a session beer.

DuClaw Devil’s Milk; DuClaw Brewing Co.; Bel Air, MD; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0. A very potent barley wine. The sweet caramel malt is well balanced by dark fruit and citrusy hops.

Ellicott Mills Bock of the Bat; Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.; Ellicott Mills, MD; Maibock; ABV: 7.0. Brewed in the classic Alpenhof style of beer. An excellent bock with a roasted, malty taste balanced with dark fruit.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA; Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Eugene, OR; India Pale Ale; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. This is a crisp, smooth tasting IPA. The citrusy hops, particularly grapefruit, is noticable up front, and is well balanced by biscuity malt & a dry finish.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY; Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0. This is an excellent Russian imperial stout, with the rich milk chocolate taste complimented by coffee, dark fruit, and roasted malt. Ten FIDY packs a punch at 10% ABV, so it’s definitely a beer to be savored!

Bowled Over

January 4th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

St. Feuillien Triple  scored points with me

St. Feuillien Triple scored points with me

There were plenty of bowl games this past holiday weekend, and I stopped by World of Beer on New Year’s Day. Penn State was playing LSU in the Capital One Bowl, and the Nittany Lions (11-2) beat the Tigers (9-4) 19-17 on a field goal in the final minute of play. It was a very entertaining game, and I enjoyed a trio of abbey ales while watching it on the big screen.

The first beer that I ordered, per Al’s recommendation, was Tripel Karmeliet (Brouwerij Bosteels; Buggenhout, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.4), an absolutely outstanding abbey ale. The taste is quite smooth, with a nice array of citrus fruit up front complimented by sweet malt. flowery hops, and spices. Karmeliet easily rivals St. Bernardus Tripel as my favorite abbey ale, and is very easy to drink as the 8.4% ABV isn’t noticeable.

For round two, I ordered St. Feuillien Triple (Brasserie St. Feuillien; Le Roeulx, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.5), which was similar to Karmeliet. Like the former, it’s a very drinkable ale as the alcohol content is well concealed. The citrus fruit taste is well balanced by honey, sweet malt, and peppery spices. Needless to say, this beer scored points with me as well.

On another screen, the Boston Bruins were hosting the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic from Fenway Park. The Bruins won 2-1 on an overtime goal, pleasing the faithful who’d braved the elements to cheer them on. In keeping with the hockey theme, I decided to complete the hat trick and ordered Pater Lieven Tripel (Brouwerij Van den Bossche; Sines-Lievens-Esse, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.0). A tad lighter than the previous two, this beer is nevertheless another excellent tripel. Citrus fruit on the front end, followed by sweet caramel and spices with a nice dry finish. In keeping with the style of these ales, the taste is quite smooth and the alcohol content is well hidden.

I hope that everyone had a festive New Year’s, and wish you peace, health, and prosperity in 2010.

With A Little Help From My Friends

October 6th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

My friend Kristine Nickel is a woman of many accomplishments. Among them is an expertise for all things culinary. She has maintained a freelance writing career since the early 1980s, wrote a wire-distributed weekly column for the Chicago Tribune for 7 years, and has covered food, wine, and travel for publications such as Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a New York Times regional newspaper, Zagat, Wine Spectator, Sarasota Magazine, and others.

So I was flattered when she asked me to sit down for an interview recently to discuss beer. The theme was Tailgating, with an emphasis on partying at home. The surge in craft beer, and experimentation by traditional breweries looking to keep their edge, came into play as well. Kristine and I sampled beers that would traditionally be on hand at a tailgate party, as well as some excellent alternatives for the more adventurous fans.

The article appeared in last Wednesday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune, and is posted below.

Bill Zavorskas

Bill Zavorskas


Bill Zavorskas estimates he has sampled close to 700 different beers since his great beer passion began. Earlier this year, Zavors­kas decided to put his passion to pen, or more accurately, keyboard, and started Billys-BeerBlog.We sat down with Zavorskas to taste a series of beers that would typically show up at a tailgate party, and some that might just get you out of your ordinary buying pattern.

Michelob Ultra Light Pomegranate/Raspberry: This is an offering that Zavorskas says was created “to compete with microbreweries.” It has a wonder­ful raspberry nose and fruity flavors.
Budlight Lime: “Trying to do Corona one better,” is how Zavorskas described this citrusy brew. At 116 calories, this is a beer you could consume several of, and its fresh character would work with many different foods.
Sam Adams Light: Known to its aficionados as “Sammy,” this light beer was the first one from a microbrewery. It’s a beauti­ful amber color with a distinctive lager nose, but I found it thin and a bit short in flavor.
Heineken Light: I’m not sure how this storied Dutch brewery came up with so much taste for just 99 calories, but this was my favorite light beer by far.
Red Stripe Lager: This is a very popular beer, which used to be produced in Jamaica but which since has been swept into a behemoth beer company. That doesn’t change the refreshing, sweetish tastes.
Rogue “Dead Guy” Ale: Rogue is an Oregon-based brewery that really delivers. This beer is a lovely amber color,’ and a molasses nose that I noted I could, “sit and smell all night.”
Smutty Nose Pumpkin Ale: Fruit and vegetable compo­nents are popular in microbrews, and this is ideal for fall.
Bell’s “Sparkling Ale”: “Caramel nose, molasses taste, smooth, long finish” is how I described this ale, which was my favorite of the tasting.
Kristine Nickel

Red White & Brew

July 8th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 1 comment

The fireworks welcomed in America's 233rd birthday

The fireworks welcomed in America's 233rd birthday

Anne & I had a blast this past 4th of July weekend. We got together with family & friends throughout the holiday weekend. Our highlights included attending a cookout, singing karaoke, having dinner at the beach, & watching a spectacular fireworks display. And of course there was plenty of beer to help usher in America’s 233rd birthday.

Bell’s Oberon Ale (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Pale Wheat Ale; ABV: 5.8) was a big hit with everyone. An easy drinking pale ale, the smooth wheat taste is complimented by citrusy hops, light malt, & spices. This is an excellent session beer for summer.

Scrimshaw Pilsner (North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; German Pilsener; ABV: 4.4) is another very drinkable brew. The sweet malt taste up front is balanced by Tettnang hops & a crisp, clean finish. Like Bell’s Oberon Ale, I highly recommend this pils as a session beer.

Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel (Flying Dog Brewery; Frederick, MD; Tripel; ABV: 8.5) is a very enjoyable Belgian tripel. The taste is a wonderful array of sweet malt, citrusy hops, & spices. This beer is so drinkable that it’s easy to forget the 8.5% ABV.

I hope that your 4th was as memorable & fun filled as ours.

Tripel Play

May 20th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You're batting 1.000 with either Allagash Triple Reserve...

You're batting 1.000 with either Allagash Triple Reserve...

or St. Bernardus Tripel

Or St. Bernardus Tripel

I took in a Rays game last Saturday afternoon, at the Trop, with my friends Gary, Leon, & Dave. It was a pitchers’ duel for most of the game, with the Rays beating the Tribe 4-2. By the time we got back to Sarasota, the weather was lousy, so Anne & I decided to stay in. I had a bottle of Allagash Tripel Reserve on hand, so all was not lost. This tripel is so smooth it’s hard to believe the ABV is 9%. A hint of banana & other citrusy fruit up front, balanced by honey, candied malt, spices, & light hops.

The baseball-tripel theme played itself out again on Monday night. I stopped by Total Wine & More on my way home from work, & picked up a bottle of St. Bernardus Tripel. ESPN had the Yankees-Twins game on from the House That A-Rod Built. Speaking of A-Rod, he & Mark Teixeira both went yard in a 6-run first inning, & the Yankees held off the Twins 7-6 to complete a four game sweep. And the St. Bernardus Tripel really hit it out of the park as well. Like the Allagash Triple Reserve, it was very drinkable for its ABV (8%). Big citrusy fruit taste up front, such as banana & lemon, with hints of sweet honey, toasted malt, & spices. It went well with the Eggplant Rollatini & Raviolini Salad that I ate.

I highly recommend both of these tripels, and look forward to an exciting AL East race between the Jays, Sox, Yankees, & Rays. Even the Orioles have been competitive at times (at least for now)!

Beer Review:

Allagash Tripel Reserve; Allagash Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Tripel; ABV: 9.0. So smooth it’s hard to believe the ABV is 9%. A hint of banana & other citrusy fruit up front, balanced by honey, candied malt, spices, & light hops.

St. Bernardus Tripel; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Tripel; 8.0. An excellent tripel. Big citrusy fruit taste up front, such as banana & lemon, with hints of sweet honey, toasted malt, & spices.

Round Midnight

March 27th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Thelonious Monk was one of the greatest, most influential musicians in the history of jazz. His cool, improvisational style complimented his cutting edge approach to the piano. Considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of bebop, Monk’s music evolved from this initial form and touched upon most genres of music.

So I was curious when I stopped by my local Total Wine & More, and saw a bottle of North Coast’s Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale. I’m a big fan of dubbels, and have enjoyed other beers crafted by this brewery, such as Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout & Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale.

Straight No Chaser is the way I drank it. The taste is full bodied, with sour cherry up front balanced by sweet malt & raisins, with only a slight bitterness at the end. Smooth jazz in a dubbel.

It’s worth noting that North Coast makes a contribution to the Monk Institute of Jazz for each case sold, and featured this beer at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Beer Review:

Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale; North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; Dubbel; ABV: 9.4. The taste is full bodied, with sour cherry up front balanced by sweet malt & raisins, with only a slight bitterness at the end.