Abita Turbodog – 5.6% ABV
Since I am a member of a beer of the month club, I get to enjoy a few different beers that come to me from various brewers on a regular basis. I get a couple from each and it gives me the opportunity to try new flavors or revisit ones that I haven’t had in ages. One of these is the Abita Brewing Company, based out of Abita Springs, LA. Restoration Ale and Purple Haze (review coming soon) came recently and got me interested again in the brewery. It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying their beers, in fact I haven’t really enjoyed Abita in over a decade, with the lone exception being a bottle of Turbodog I had with my creole dinner in New Orleans back in November 2011. When I stumbled across a bottle of this in Buy-Rite, I decided another taste was in order. If not for old time’s sake then definitely for review purposes.
Like the other selections in the Abita brand, Turbodog hosts a no-frills, standard label. No intricate artwork, no flash and gimmick, no shock and awe. Just the name and logo of the brewery and the beer. There is a little design element to speak of, but not so much as to be a distraction. The lone exception to the lack of design is the appearance of grains incorporated in the logo. I finally finished gazing at and analyzing the label and decided to give the beer itself a look and taste. Turbodog is Abita’s take on an English Brown Ale. Pouring this into an imperial pint glass, aka nonic glass, reveals a clear dark mahogany brown ale with a creamy beige head that builds to about a finger and a half thick. This dissipates at a reasonable rate and diminishes to a nice film above the brew. The aromas I get from this when burying my nose in it are predominantly chocolate, with a subtle caramel/toffee note and maybe some biscuit or bread as well. I also keep thinking I’m smelling a slight nutty aroma lurking underneath, perhaps because of the previous brown ales I’ve recently enjoyed. Maybe it’s Total Recall in the aroma department. Or maybe it’s in there after all. But I digress. Regardless, I want to taste this puppy.
The first sip of Abita Turbodog gives you a strong malty backbone, common in a brown ale, and a rich caramel/toffee and roasted cocoa or coffee profile hit the palate. Soon after the initial caramel/chocolate offering, the Willamette hops come in to play. They give the very rich and sweet malt flavor a stern talking-to and keep it in check. The finish is crisp and slightly dry, providing an interesting balance with the malt. The mouthfeel is rich and smooth, nicely textured as the creamy malts and mild hops do battle. There isn’t much lacing left in the glass as I continue to pull on it, but a few suds still hang around. Overall, the roasted malts and chocolate and cocoa presence is what wins the day. Hooray I say!
Oddly coincidental, I happen to be drinking a beer from Louisiana on the seventh anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and on a day that Hurricane Isaac is wreaking more havoc on The Big Easy. Here is a bit of moral support for my crawdad-and-gumbo-loving friends down south – This was quite a pleasant brew to enjoy. It has been so long since I’ve had it that upon consumption, scores of old college memories were conjured up. Thank you for that. I honestly think that this could run neck-and-neck with many other beers in the style. I’d like to see how it stacks up to say a Samuel Smith or other reputable purveyor of English Brown Ales. Maybe it’s time for another smackdown? Perhaps. In the meantime, go grab an Abita Turbodog and enjoy what Louisiana has to offer. They’ve got more than just good seafood down there. Cheers!