From The Cellar: New Glarus Thumbprint Chocolate Abbey

In Cellared Beer Reviews by The Guys

New Glarus says:

“This decadent Chocolate Abbey Ale is a lovely trifle for your senses. Brewed with a proprietary Belgian yeast and English Maris Otter Malt it is smooth and rich. Inspired by a recent tour of Europe and brewed with chocolate we enjoyed there. Subtle Segal Ranch hops promote the rich dark chocolate flavors of this rather strong Dubbel.”

New Glarus Thumbprint Chocolate Abbey
Dubbel, ? ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

FRESH

KARL: We poured this when I was still fresh from my inaugural trip to Short’s Brewpub, where I fell in love with their Chocolate Wheat. I feel sorta the same way about this brew, in a different way, if that makes sense. Pouring thin with a tall head, the foam fades fast to leave behind a surprisingly fruity beer for one with such a dark color. Dark fruits, raisins, a little mint and definitely a ton of bubblegum flavor, interestingly enough. Not any chocolate showed up for me, should you think that the name defines the taste.

While I am not anticipating a wider release on this beer like I hoped for (and received) with the Short’s light chocolate wheat beer, I do hope this style becomes the new big thing. I could drink these styles in place of porters and stouts for variety’s sake from November through March, and would love a break from the Mild Winter every now and again. There’s a lot of room for individuality and style with this type of beer – I’d love to see what some of my other favorite brewers can do with something like it.

ANDREW: Shame on me. I need to start by apologizing to New Glarus. When I was in Wisconsin earlier this year and when saw their Chocolate Abbey on the shelves, I was hesitant to buy it. In fact I passed up on it three separate times before finally breaking down. I’m not sure why I was so hesitant to try this beer, but it was a mistake. Sorry.

The Chocolate Abbey pours as thick as a milk shake with tons of dark fruit notes with a bit of chocolate from the malts. What threw me off a bit was the flavor profile of this thing – mint (ok…), dark fruits (understandable), and bubble gum (what the…?). There really wasn’t as much chocolate as one would expect with its name, but I did get a touch of bitter chocolate on the back-end of the beer.

RYAN: So did I get all the chocolate in my 4 oz taster then, because I picked up plenty on the Chocolate Abbey. From the chocolate malt aroma to the milk chocolate on the palate this beer, at least for me, was as advertised.

The aroma was reminiscent of a movie theater concession stand with smells of candy wafting out of the glass; namely Milk Duds and Raisinets. When you take a sip, the bulk of the chocolate is on the front end. Then, an unexpected, lively carbonation dances the somewhat-out-of-place mint and bubblegum flavors across your palate along with some usual suspects; roasted malts and dark fruits.

The Chocolate Abbey finishes roast-y and dry.

I was pleasantly surprised by this beer and am, again, reminded that New Glarus can practically do no wrong in our book.

1 YEAR

Ryan: This beer has ascended to the ranks of ridiculous in the short span of a year.

If you read the tasting notes above you can see that we came away surprised, if not mildly impressed, by this offering from New Glarus. I think it’s safe to say that, after tasting this with a year of age on it, this beer has now far exceeded our expectations.

Typically we talk about what has faded in a beer after some time in the cellar and, subsequently, what those flavors have been replaced by. In this instance, nothing really faded with the Chocolate Abbey but there were a handful of fresh surprises.

You don’t have to go far to find the first addition; take a whiff and you still get some creamy milk chocolate and milk duds on the nose but you also get a good punch of mint leaves and tangerine peel.

The body is equally as chocolate-y as a fresh pour, if not more, with a distinct chalkiness to it – which is balanced out by more mint, bubblegum, passion fruit and orange slices.

The finish is incredibly smooth and the carbonation is spot on.

We can’t quite say that this beer has peaked – in part because that was our last bottle – but if you have a few lying around we’d suggest cracking one open to see if you get the same results.

We’d also like to know if you’re as blown away by this as we were.

Karl: I really do quite like this style of beer, because there are still really no expectations when I open one, and it’s just pure surprise when you get through the tasting.

Last time we all agreed on the straightforward  bubble gum nature of this beer, but hot damn, it’s gotten weirder – I detected mint and circus peanuts popping around in there as well. Throw in some cotton candy and you’ve got a gosh damned carnival of a beer.

This is a fine, fine beer that I wish came around more often.

Andrew: Chalk this one up as another win for us in our adventures in cellaring.

What was a very good beer fresh had turned into a rather remarkable beer after just one year.

I remain somewhat perplexed by this style of beer, including some of the head-scratching flavors found in this particular offering, but whatever, it’s tasty and I’d like to know what happens after two or three years.

The best way I can describe this beer is it’s as if someone melted up some Frango mints (it’s a Chicago thing) and threw them in a bottle. That’s exactly what we have here. Some vanilla, but mostly mint and chocolate with incredible Belgian yeast flavors to make this one hell of a complex beer.

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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.

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