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Beer – #220 – Ben Middlemiss – Nota Bene Abbey Ale

I had a grand evening with a friend Julian on his 41st birthday, MrsPdubyah enjoyed it a bit much. We came home. So to make up for that I’m going to have a Ben Middlemiss – Nota Bene Abbey Ale . Yes I am, judge me if you like. This is by the Ben Middlemiss Brewing Company
and is brewed Brewed at Harringtons Breweries (Christchurch) in the style of a  Belgian Strong Ale. That should then be in Christchurch, shaky city.

An awkwardly shaped bottle, of 500mls, containing an 8.7% ABV beer, making it 3.4 Standard drink units.

Nota Bene is the great ale from veteran craft brewer Ben Middlemiss. NB: it is also a latin phrase used to indicate that special attention should be paid to something. So, “note well”, and you will be richly Ben Middlemiss - Nota Benerewarded with a complexity of flavours and aromas. Brewer Ben says you may be forgiven for “…making a habit of drinking this Belgian-style Abbey ale.” A beautifully crafted, complex-charactered ale, Nota Bene weighs in at 8.7% ABV and has an almost orange hue.  The flavours are warm and dry and driven by a spicy hop fruit character, laced with an unobtrusive warming alcohol effect.  When poured, a lovely rich head forms and contains delicious yeast characters only found normally in the style of beers produced by the monasteries of Belgium.  It was indeed these monks’ work which inspired Ben to develop this wonderfully enduring world class ale.

I like the Ben Middlemiss beers, and I’ve had this out and about on my travels, always enjoyed it, but usually you get it in a smaller bottle then the 500ml. Oh yeah the 330ml bottle.

This is the Non Vintage version of the beer, because there are two, of course, who knew?, and then may be\will be different from anything I may or may not have had previously.

Not obviously a Belgium style beer on opening, a muted nearly dusty aroma, but a lively carbonation making a noise. Really carbonated and a bit lively on the pour, with a giant head than soon fizzes itself to calmness, settling to a decent white head, on a beer that is much more dark brown than I thought it might be.  You then get to pick out the belgium beer style aromas, the malt sweetness.

It’s quite tart straight up front, but carries to a much sweeter finish, the yeasty aroma present at all times. There isn’t however a lot of ‘warmth’ from this, a very narrow sweetness against it piquant notes.  There is no sting of astringent alcohol either, it’s a bit muted, which might be a bit clever.

It has warmed a bit, and the malt notes begin to kick in a bit, but this is a bit one dimensional. There is a tang up front, and a mild carry but not a lot of length.

Having said all that the pdubyah-o-meter easily says 8,  making it very good as beers go. There might be a gulf between this and a native Belgium beer of class, but it’s pretty decent and not unpresentable.

t’s ok. It isn’t outstanding. It does not have the malt warmth, nor does it have the alcohol burn. There is tart start and a balance of sweet end, but not a lot of length. I liked that it stands up in it’s class and would hold it’s own in tasting. But it isn’t special or spectacular.


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