Lost Abbey Veritas 009 Release Notes

The release of Lost Abbey's latest creation came with little warning. The announcement was made just last Monday and it was just a few days later (Saturday morning) that the beer was actually released to the public. Of the 117 cases produced, 100 were made available at the brewery making this the only method by which to acquire some bottles (limited though to just 4 per person). Given the increased interest in rare beers over the last year or two, this release was bound to sell out almost immediately.

After a 3:40am wake-up call to bust out 16 miles on the pavement, I quickly cleaned up and got in the car to make the nearly 2 hour drive to San Diego (well, north county). I arrived at 8:45 . . . more than one whole hour before the actually release and there was already no parking and the line stretched from the brewery, through the parking lot and out to the street. I quickly starting thinking that I may have driven all of this way and could go home without any beer. Fortunately, one of the guys in front of me did a rough count and said that we were in the 200s. If every person bought 4 bottles, just 300 people would be able to get their hands on the beer. Whoa . . . that was close. It wasn't until about 10:30am that I finally made it inside to make the purchase (#236 in line in fact). At $35 per bottle, this ranks as the most expensive beer ever purchased (directly) in the rare beer collection.

I figured I would just snag the bottles and get going, but I quickly changed my mind when I realized that the Veritas 009 was on draft! Yes! ON DRAFT!

Why is this beer so special? According to Lost Abbey, the beer was brewed back in 2007 and sent to age in freshly emptied bourbon barrels from Kentucky for 15 months! Following that, the beer was transferred to French oak barrels primarily used for Syrah. Sour cherries were added and the beer was left to age for another 15 months! In 2010, the beer was blended and bottled and left to condition for another 11 months . . . that is at least 41 months in the making. What do you get when you spend 41 months creating a beer!?

First, the color . . . dark as night with a thin light brown, almost tan head, from the tap.

The aroma is reminiscent of dark cherries (obviously) and bourbon (again, obviously).

The taste . . . completely surprising. I honestly (no pun intended) expected the Veritas 009 to be quite sour given the addition of sour cherries after 15 months. However, the sourness is very mellow. The cherries, in conjunction with the French oak Syrah barrels give the beer some characteristics more common in fine wine than a bottle of beer. Don't get me wrong, the beer is sour, just not nearly as much as one might expect. The beer is quite dry with notes of blackberries, very similar to what you might expect from a nice Cab. or Syrah. Even though it is dry, it is still quite smooth and unlike many bourbon barrel-aged stouts, the Veritas 009 does not burn on the way down. It is arguably one of the most well balanced beers ever produced. As the blackberries subside, the bourbon and oak notes prevail . . . followed by the rich maltness of the beer itself. The Veritas 009 is complex . . . very complex.

I originally thought I would purchase 4 bottles, saving 2 for my own pleasure and reselling the other 2 to recover the cost of driving all the way to San Diego. BUT, after trying the Veritas 009 at Lost Abbey, I think I will have to hold on to these bottles and save them for special occasions and special company. I can honestly say that there are very few people who could appreciate a beer as rich and complex as the Veritas 009.

The bottom line . . . the Veritas 009 is expensive by beer standards. However, it is one of the most complex, yet balanced beers ever produced and could easily have been sold for 2 to 3 times its release price.