Sunday, July 3, 2011

Custom Brewcrafters - Signature Series Mabel

I went to Custom Brewcrafters for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, with some family and friends.  It's an awesome place - with 20-odd craft beers on tap, what beer enthusiast wouldn't be happy as a sandboy there?  They also offer free brewery tours, and your $6 tasting ticket includes a free tasting glass to keep, and a $2 rebate if you decide to buy a growler from them.  They also have a pretty decent kitchen serving a limited menu which changes weekly.  

I was intrigued to see a case of cigars on the bar - I was very tempted to don my plummiest English persona, buy some Cubans, pull out my bow tie and tweed jacket, and retire to the drawing room with the men of our party to discuss the stock market.  

I soon realised this wouldn't work - I don't have a bow tie or tweed jacket currently, my apartment doesn't have anything resembling a drawing room, the stock market is about as interesting to me as a bottle of MGD 64, and frankly I have never even smoked a cigar before...oh well, it was a great plan for the two minutes I contemplated it.  

Then again, who needs cigars when you have genuine smoked beer available to you?

Allow me to introduce Mabel, a self-professed 'Imperial Breakfast Beer' from CB's Signature Series (a collection of limited-edition, high-end beers).  It's a strong, fairly dark smoked beer with a malty backbone and some rich, complex flavours which will keep you coming back for more, even with an ABV of 10%.  It's brewed with maple syrup from Mendon and smoked malts from Germany and Scotland.  

Mabel pours a deep copper with ruby hues (the photo doesn't do it justice) and a very good clarity.  Moderate carbonation is evident.  There's a small, off-white head, which is just fine with me - if you agitate the beer a bigger head will develop, but with a beer this strong you don't want or need a massive head.

Smoky malts and a strong, clean alcohol scent hit your nose with the first sniff.  There's even a touch of smoky Scotch whiskey about it - probably from the peat-smoked malt.  The maple is detectable underneath as a sweet note to the aroma.  

You can definitely taste the maple syrup - it's not exactly sweet but it comes through nicely.  The smoked malts dominate the flavour and that's what makes this beer so deliciously different - smoke adds so many layers of complexity to the flavour.  The finish is fairly dry, although I detected some sweet notes from the maple syrup and the smoked malts linger strongly.

The beer has a medium-full body, with a nice smooth feel, there's a fair amount of carbonation but the high alcohol content softens that, especially as the beer warms from the fridge (carbonation definitely felt higher when it was colder).  The alcohol also imparts a nice warmth that sits pleasantly on the palate.  

Overall, it's a damn fine brew.  The brewer's notes say that Mabel means 'lovable' - it's easy to see why they came up with this name for the beer, because it's a brew which will get under your skin and leave you wanting more.  Here are my scores:

Appearance - 4.5/5
Aroma - 4/5
Taste - 4/5
Mouthfeel - 3.5/5

Overall - 4/5.  I'm not sure whether I should recommend this as 'breakfast beer'!  But I can see this going down an absolute treat with bacon or BBQ, a perfect complement to those cured and smoky meats that we all know and love so well.  Thoroughly enjoyable and well worth a hunt to find it.

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