The marketing for St. Benedict's Winter Ale says nothing about Belgium or Abbeys. It does say, it uses "generous amounts of dark roasted malts and the finest noble hops for a robust warming flavor." The PointBeer.com website was designed for serious foodies. Besides having sections for food and cheese pairings, they even suggest wines that you might want to substitute with their beers. (Drink this instead of a Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Port.) They also reveal their malts (2-row, 6-row, Pilsen, Roasted, Aromatic, 2-row Chocolate) and hops (cluster). I do taste the hops and malts. I am reminded of caramel and a hearty whole-grain bread.
The words "dark" and "chocolate" were used in the previous paragraph - and in a recent post about a porter. But this beer isn't black like a porter, it is very red - like a 50/50 mix of cherry and apple juices.
Is it any good? I give it a 3. I'd have another. It won a silver medal at the 2012 World Beer Championships. I just looked up what Beer Advocate had to say, they call it an Abbey-style beer and their official taste testers rate it a 90 (exceptional). I am glad to say that they use the phrases, "burnt sugar" and "toasted bread flavor" which isn't far from my "caramel" and "whole-grain bread." So I guess my taste buds work. They also talk about plums and pears, so I guess my taste buds need more excercise. I now have 355 days left to go in My Year of Beer, so more exercise they will receive.
-Jim from Milwaukee
p.s. 6.2 abv, so not as much alcohol as yesterday's triple.