From the Beer Writer: If you hear a local brewer or beer fan talking about a “double,” they’re most likely referring to a double IPA. Those are ubiquitous, while Belgian-style dubbels are few and far between. It’s a shame, because, in my opinion, dubbels are one of the most delicious, brown-hued, mid-ABV (alcohol-by-volume) styles in the world. But with a prominent malt presence and earthy spice, versus a dominant hop bill and botanical juiciness, it’s the exact opposite of what most San Diegan beer enthusiasts are looking for. Still, there are a handful of local brewers who occasionally go against the grain and offer homegrown iterations of this traditional abbey ale style. The latest is Dan Anderson, the man at the helm of Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant‘s La Jolla brewpub. Earlier this week, he released Martin the Warrior, and though it’s his first attempt at a dubbel, you’d never know it. It comes on strong with banana on the nose and front palate, with dried fruit (prunes, currants, raisins), clove, and a dark-breadiness coming on in the middle. A tinge of bitterness akin to black pepper or deeply-browned crusty bread tames the semi-sweet nature of the beer, making for a dry finish that ups Martin’s drinkability. With bold yet balanced flavors that are true to tradition, this beer shows why this style should be far less obscure in San Diego County.
From the Brewer: “Martin the Warrior is the product of a recipe that I have been working on for quite some time and have been very excited to brew. My original inspiration to brew the beer was our single French-Chardonnay mixed-culture barrel. We were preparing to remove the beer that had been aging in it and needed a replacement. This style seemed like an obvious fit for the flavor profile of our culture. I tried to keep the recipe as simple as possible while shooting for the complexity that the style deserves by layering in only a couple of specialty caramel malts with some high quality Belgian base malt, and we are very happy with the results. Martin derives its name from a series of medieval fantasy novels called Redwall which were very popular throughout the ’90’s. The series revolves around a resurrected castle called Redwall Abbey, which Martin the Warrior is the sworn protector of. Since the dubbel is considered a quintessential Belgian abbey ale style, I found it only fitting that it be named after the guardian of the abbey. It clocks in at 6.9% ABV and displays a deep copper color with ruby highlights. It features aromas of dried cherry, ripe plum, banana, and bread crust, with light caramel and complex bready flavor plus a subtle bitterness.”– Dan Anderson, Head Brewer, Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant La Jolla