Tonight, I opened a celebratory beer. I can’t tell you at this point why I’m celebrating (NO, THERE IS NOT ANOTHER KID ON THE WAY), but it called for a good beer. I crossed my fingers that this would be it.
I enjoy most Abita beers that I’ve had, and I’m a big fan of vanilla in my beers, so I figured this couldn’t go wrong.
The color is a deep brown, with only the faintest ruddy notes when you hold it to the light. The lacing is thin but persistent, and the nose is very sweet. One simple sniff indicates the promised vanilla, but also toffee and caramel.
The taste is fiendishly complex. There is sweetness up front, but it’s a roasted nut, toffee, malty sweetness, and at first I was a little disappointed that I didn’t taste vanilla. There are some slight espresso and milk chocolate notes at the front. Then, the dark beer taste kicks in. Although it’s a 7% ABV, the flavor is definitely more porter than stout. It’s rich and malty; the bottle indicates they use pale, caramel, and chocolate hops — and the middle taste of this beer emphasizes the pale and chocolate. It’s rich and full in the mouth, like a good dark beer should be.
Then it hits the back, and the vanilla rushes in like a wave. It’s sweet and full, and pure in the way that only real vanilla can be. (Abita uses full vanilla beans after brewing is complete, during the aging and fermentation process.)
There are no two ways about it — this beer is a stand-alone or an accompaniment for an equally decadent dessert. This would not pair well with almost any meal I can imagine. (Maybe some breakfasts, I guess.)
I bought only one bottle — a 22-oz bottle — and I’m hoping that the next time I go into the store, they have more. It’s a great celebratory beer.