The day had finally arrived! We were about to experience the ultimate beer tasting! Well, at least according to the name of the box of beers we were about to open.
The last weekend in June I had some friends over for a really exciting beer tasting. We were about to taste our way through none other than Lost Abbey’s Ultimate Box Set, a set containing 12 different beers (or “tracks”). Each beer is a blend of existing Lost Abbey beers, with different sorts of barrel aging and wild yeast additions, spiced up with some extra ingredients such as grapes, peaches and cherries. Lost Abbey themselves calls this box set “A malt-driven tribute to the album rock of our youth”.
Each month in 2012 Lost Abbey released a new beer, and by the end of the year they made these box sets, containing all the 12 different beers, an album containing a faux 12″ vinyl record with the Lost Abbey logo, and 12 larger versions of the beer label’s artwork. The box also includes a certification signed by Tomme Arthur and a “press pass” (with a different number than the one on the outside of the box and on the certificate). As if this wasn’t enough I found yet another surprise the first time I opened the box, a bonus track! In December of 2012 Lost Abbey announced that they had made an encore for the box set, and luckily this was included in the box I got.
Each of the 12 beers in the box set is inspired by a specific song from the late 70s all through the 80s, chosen by Tomme himself (at least as far as I know). Before the tasting I had of course prepared the soundtrack so we could enjoy each beer with the matching song in the background, on repeat. Which, by the way, got somewhat annoying from time to time as some of the songs were quite short, compared to the amount of time we spent per beer. Anyhow, the songs include classics from bands such as, amongst others, Van Halen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and The Police.
Now, on to the beers themselves, no doubt the most important part of the box set. The beers are essentially blends of existing Lost Abbey beers, aged in various types of barrels, and beers have been “spiced up” with different yeast cultures (mostly Brettanomyces) and some extra ingredients such as Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, cinnamon sticks, peaches and black tea. All beers are listed below, with information fetched from lostabbey.com:
Track #01 – Runnin’ With The Devil (Van Halen)
From the Fresh Track series, this is a brown beer base aged in three red wine barrels, spiked with 30 pounds of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and house-raised Brettanomyces cultures (read more).
Track #02 – Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
From the Remixed Tracks, this is a blend of Cuvee from bourbon barrels blended into The Angel’s Share (bourbon) with peaches and topped off with Project X (our wild fermentation project) to balance the peaches’ sweetness with some acidity. The blend proportions are 60% Angel’s Share, 20% Cuvee de Tomme and 20% Project X (read more).
Track #03 – Hell’s Bells (AC/DC)
From the remixed tracks, Track 3 is a pale sour beer — A blend of two barrels of Mellow Yellow (a popular component in many of our sours), and Phunky Duck (a base beer in the blend that becomes Duck Duck Gooze) (read more)
Track #04 – Sympathy for the Devil (The Rolling Stones)
A freshly remixed track, Track 4 is a black blended beer comprised of two barrels from the one of the base components from 2011′s Veritas 009, and two barrels of Hot Rocks aged in French Oak red wine barrels with their own unique Brettanomyces (read more).
Track #05 – Shout at the Devil (Motley Crüe)
Another of our remixed tracks, Track 5 is a blend of two fruit beers — Red Poppy and Framboise de Amorosa bumped with additional fruits and sent to rest in French Oak prior to bottling (read more).
Track #06 – Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
A Fresh Track, think of Track 6 as Deliverance Through the Looking Glass. A blend of brandy barrel-aged Serpent’s Stout and bourbon barrel-aged Angel’s Share (v. 2009), this one is dark and leathery with plenty of wood notes accented by hints of vanilla. (Perfect for the ride to Hell, no?) (read more)
Track #07 – The Devil Inside (INXS)
A remixed track, Track 7 is Veritas 006 blended with raspberries, cherries and a touch of mandarin orange zest (read more).
Track #08 – Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden)
A fresh track, Track 8 is a spicy monster — A base of Judgment Day aged in freshly emptied bourbon barrels then spiked with liberal additions of cinnamon stick and dried chili pepper (read more).
Track #09 – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (
Guns N’ Roses Bob Dylan)
A remixed track, Track 9 is Cuvee de Tomme bumped first with currants and then bumped again with extra Brettanomyces (read more).
Sidenote: It seems Tomme Arthur made this a tribute to Guns N’ Roses’ version of the song. I can’t stand listening to that song more than once every 3-4 years so I played Bob Dylan’s version instead. Sorry Tomme…
Track #10 – Bat out of Hell (Meatloaf)
A fresh track, Track 10 began as a fresh Serpent’s Stout base aged in bourbon barrels with oodles of coffee and cacao nibs added shortly before packaging (read more).
Track #11 – The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band)
A experimental re-mix track, Track 12 is Angel’s Share sent to fresh Heaven Hill whiskey barrels for 9 month, spiked with fresh peaches and a touch of Brettanomyces (read more).
Track #12 – Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath)
A non-fruited sour made from a blend of Avant Garde, and unreleased sour brown and Gift of the Magi aged in oak barrels (read more).
Track #13 – Message in a Bottle (The Police)
A new barleywine brewed specifically for this Track, the base was sent to freshly emptied cognac barrels and aged with sour cherries and orange zest (read more).
Conclusion / Our top 3
So, was this the ultimate beer tasting? Well, it was pretty damn great, as most other beer tastings tend to be IMHO. Even though the beers included in this tasting is rare and not that easy to get a hold of, it’s no longer about chasing the most rare or special beers, it’s just about tasting great beer and having a good time doing it. That’s all that matters (at least to me anyways).
When the tasting came to an end we combined our scores and the following beers were our “top 3”:
- Track #6 – Highway to Hell
- Track #10 – Bat out of Hell
- Track #11 – The Devil Went Down to Georgia
- Track #13 – Message in a Bottle (same amount of points as Track #11)
Top 3 and scores aside, the tasting itself was pure joy, filled with love and admiration for craft beer. Thanks to Per, André x 2 and Tom for attending and making this evening very enjoyable. And thanks to Lost Abbey and Tomme Arthur for making the box set!
I’d also like to thank Balder for carrying this box around Copenhagen until I managed to meet up with him late one evening before this years Copenhagen Beer Celebration. I’ll send you a token of my appreciation any day now.
Enough writing for tonight as this post made me quite thirsty. I’ll end the post with some more pictures of the box set. Cheers!
P.S. The last couple of beer tastings I have had at BeerNorway HQ (in Fredrikstad, Norway) have been open for everyone. I announce these tastings over at my BeerNorway Facebook page, so if you want to join in just pay attention over at Facebook and be one of the first to shout out.