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Beer Review: Full Sail Brewery, Sanctuary

Sep 25, 2011

Ding Points: 88.50

Pour: 90.00, Nose: 80.00, Palate: 90.00, Mouth: 90.00, Global: 90.00

Tasting Notes

It never ceases to amaze me, how a fairly limited set of ingredients, plus the brewing process and the brewers intent, can so often produce a beer that does something quite different to that intent, and seemingly something significantly different than the label would suggest. This is one such beer.

Part of the Brewmaster’s Reserve Series for 2011 (although this has been out before), the beer sports the usual, Full Sail label art with a black, taupe and gold color scheme. The label claims the following attributes, ‘Rich malt aromas’, ‘flavors of biscuit’, ‘lightly hopped’, ‘Belgian yeast spice’ and 20 IBU’s. On tasting, I largely agree with most of those claims.

The pour immediately gets my attention for two reasons. Firstly it is atypical for a Dubbel in terms of the clarity (no muddy pond water her which for me, so often detracts from the Dubbel experience) and secondly and the resplendent red color is not one would expect to see for a beer that has ‘Dubbel’ on the label.

The head is small, but leaves some spotty head.

Full Sail, Sanctuary

Full Sail, Sanctuary

Nose is a light, malty affair that does not give up much else.

The beer definitely has a bunch attributes that I was not expecting, and I’m not only talking about the color surprise. There are ample biscuit notes, some light hop bitterness (subtle), and plenty of solid malty backbone. With a little more body this beer would drink remarkably like a light, hoppy, English ESB! WOW, odd! In the finish there is a hint of the Belgian yeast character that the label mentions, but to be honest it almost seems like an afterthought. There’s a lot of fruit here, but for me it’s the fruit that one associates with a classic English bitter, rather than an aggressive pineapple or tropical assault one might find with a Belgian beer.

The finish is an interesting paradox of sweet, Belgian based fruit, and some drier, hoppier tones. Wraps up nicely.

On a blind taste test I might think that I was drinking an over-hopped, fruity, English ESB with a little more alcohol and less body than a classic. As a result I really like this beer, think it is incredibly moreish and drinkable but I would imagine those looking for a more typical Dubbel will be hopelessly disappointed. for me this beer is not what it says on the label, it’s better!

Other: 7.0% ABV, Smyrna Beverage Warehouse, 22oz bottle, $5.99.


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