Yesterday was a fun day. The beer was quite delicious and my daughter got her first picture taken with Santa Claus. Being only one month old, she doesn’t really understand what or who he is. Still, she looked at him with an interest and intent that assures me she’s already considering what she might ask him for when she is ready to talk.
I’m looking forward to trying Day 5’s beer. It’s a Belgian Abbey style beer called De Mons from Inveralmond Brewery in Perth, Scotland, UK. It’s not even the first time I’ve had a beer from them. Last year, Day 13 was a beer from this same brewery.
The name Inveralmond may sound familiar to some folks. In 2016, Inveralmond was purchased by Innis and Gunn in 2016. Innis and Gunn had been considering building a brand-new brewery in Southeast Scotland, but with this purchase they decided to invest the money into this existing brewery. Let’s get into this in a minute.
Let’s go back to its founding in 1997 by Fergus Clark had a grand opening in Perth including the gates of the brewery being drawn open by a pair of Clysdale horses, the traditional draught horses used for transporting beer in the olden days. In November 1999 the brewery hired it’s first master brewer, Ken Duncan who brought with him a penchant for signing opera and smuggling yeast from the Czech republic. By 2002 they had won their first gold for their beer Ossian, and over the next two years continued to grow adding new staff as their beer became more in demand.
By 2009 they had outgrown their original location and broke ground on the construction of a brand-new brewery. This allowed them to increase their capacity and to do their very first 30-barrel brew, Lia Fail, on their new 30 barrel brew house. They continued to grow over the years increasing their fermentation capacity to 120 barrels and adding new brewers and tanks. By the time, Innis and Gunn purchased them they had added several new beers and started the “inspiration series” of which we are tasting the second brew.
When purchased by Innis and Gunn it had been touted as a move of mutual respect. The two breweries had been long time friends and the team at Inveralmond was not in any way impacted. While I’m not a huge fan of all of Innis and Gunn’s beers, this is a bit of a different situation from Anheuser Busch. Innis and Gunn is an independent brewery who has acquired another brewery to expand their beer line. Whatever you may think of the move, you can read more about it here or here.
The style of beer we have today requires a bit of an explanation as well. It is called a Belgian Abbey which is the term used for a Trappist beer that is not brewed under the supervision of a Trappist monk. Trappist products are protected in the same was as Champagne or Port in that to use the name they must meet certain criteria.
The most important criteria to be met is that the beers must be brewed under the supervision of a Trappist Monk. When this is not possible, the beers are not able to carry this moniker. As such, many breweries adopted using the term “Abbey beers” to describe a beer brewed in this style but not under the required supervision. You can read more about Trappist beers, and see the list of official Trappist breweries, here.
This beer is brewed in the style of a Belgian Blond Ale. These beers are moderate strength golden ales with a mild fruit and spice note from the Belgian yeast with a slightly sweet malty flavour and a dry finish. These are a relatively recent beer style that was made to further appeal to European Pilsner drinkers and has become much more popular. These beers are similar in strength as a Dubbel, similar character as a Belgian Strong Golden Ale or Tripel, although a bit sweeter and not as bitter.
Appearance – Pale Golden and clear. Very thin white head that fades quickly leaving only slight bubbling on edge of glass.
Smell – Mildly sweet fruity aroma of figs, raisins, plums, a spicy peppery note, and some candied sugar.
Taste – Belgian yeast, spicy with hints of fig and raisins, bready malt, with a good helping of malty sweetness.
Mouth feel – Good medium body and carbonation with a semi-sweet fruity finish that lingers well after swallowing.
Overall – An easy drinking flavourful Belgian blond ale. With the light hop bitterness and subtle yeast characteristics it still provides a nice spiciness to it along with a good malty sweetness that is reminiscent of honey or candied sugar.
Do I like it? – Yes, I did. I quite like these beers. I find the malt component with the hop and spice from the yeast bring a nice balance. They are easy to drink and flavourful.