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BEER WEEK: The Lost Abbey

In existence for a little more than three years, The Lost Abbey, a brewing operation built on classic European technique and Southern California ingenuity, has gained a spot in the upper echelon of the American craft brew industry. Its Belgian-inspired ales have garnered a number of gold medals and accolades. The company has taken top honors as Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival and the 2008 World Beer Cup—the premier beer competitions in the nation and world, respectively.

Barrel Tasting Night at

The Lost Abbey.

Photo byHeather Hernandez

There’s no shortage of fans of this successful San Marcos-based brewery and it’s normal to see lines snaking around the building when a new beer is released. Typically, new varietals sell out the day they’re made available to the public, making getting one’s hands on these exotic brews challenging, but worth the effort.

So, when head brewer Tomme Arthur opens up the doors to the brewery to let beer lovers get a taste of not one, but a whopping seven rare not-for-sale beers, it’s way more than “just another beer event.” Attendance for this past weekend’s third annual Barrel Tasting Night was limited to 125. Tickets sold out within a matter of hours.

For those who couldn’t snag one of these golden tickets, but may come across a few of these rare concoctions at another San Diego Beer Week event, here are some tasting notes:

Veritas 006: Billed as a sangria, this tart magenta-hued offering tastes strongly of pomegranate and features a dry finish that lingers like a fruity rosé on the palate.

Barrel-Aged Avant Garde: This aged version of the brewery’s flagship ale is strikingly different than the everyday variety. Time in the barrel has lent it a rounded sour, sharply tannic and slightly spicy profile.

Amazing Grace: This beer’s “grace” is its subtlety. Unlike many barrel-aged beers, this one isn’t in-your-face, thanks to low carbonation and subdued, yet wholly luscious bourbon notes.

2009 Cable Car: Best described as a kinder, gentler sour, this ale is rife with tannic bite but exhibits seductive, almost hidden whiskey undertones that are worth taking the time to spelunk and savor.

Barrel-Aged Red Poppy: If red wine and a sour eloped, this is what you’d end up with. Sour cherry acidity hits the tongue but quickly dissipates to reveal a sturdy grenache-esque backbone.

Cabernet Grape Barrel-Aged Angel’s Share: The nose and body of this sweet, refined and luxuriously smooth strong ale is packed with currant. It would easily be mistaken for port wine in any blind taste test.

Port Barrel-Aged Serpent’s Stout: Viscous and slightly smoky, this high-octane stout contains bittersweet chocolate, dried fruit and ginger notes; think chocolate-covered port wine-soaked raisins.

SanDiego.com is offering continuous coverage of San Diego Beer Week (November 6-15). Check back for more stories, or click on these links for pieces already posted:

Details »
  • City: San Marcos
  • Phone: 800-918-6816
  • Name: Lost Abbey
  • Address: 155 Mata Way