Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Cable Car | The Lost Abbey

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
226 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Cable CarCable Car

Brewed by:
The Lost Abbey
California, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by stephendr on 08-12-2007

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 226 | Ratings: 947
Photo of rpstevens
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mjn5036 for sharing this bottle at a recent tasting. Poured into a mini goblet. The beer pours a hazy golden yellow with a bubbly white head that leaves little lacing on the sides of the glass.

The smell is crisp sweet ripe fruits (apricots and pears), sharp alcohol, musty funky barrel oakiness, hay and a more subtle than expected lemon and green apple sourness.

The taste is much more tart than the smell, the funky oak and hay characters jump on top of the lemon zestiness and really take you for a ride right out of the gate. There is not much balance to this one, but it's not expected and not necessary. This is a sour beer.

The beer is very carbonated, which is something I really appreciate for this style. I think the carbonation compliments the sharp fruit flavors and overtly sour tones of the beer, there is a nice dry finish that leaves the palate feeling nice and clean and craving more. The crisp flavors, dry finish and well masked alcohol make this beer very drinkable.

 1,000 characters

Photo of badbeer
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2007 Cable Car, batch 1

Clear golden yellow color with a slight orange hue with a quickly dissipating white head, leaving only a ring around the glass. Lactic acid and citrus in the nose. There's some funkiness to it, but I get more tropical fruit than anything else. Lightly spicy on the tongue with some barnyard funk and a little bit of tropical fruit. As it warmed in the glass, the tropical fruit remained, but more of a foot-like Brett character came through. Medium high carbonation with a dry finish. Drinkability is exceptional; easy to drink a bunch of this, though availability won't allow it. Flavors aren't all that intense, but they are refined and lead to a good drinking experience.

 699 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
4.29/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

08/17/11- Shared a bottle of 2010 Cable Car at the San Francisco Toronado.
A: Very clear light golden with a white film and collar.
S: Nice granny smith apple, slightly solvent alcohol, floral and honey sweet with some banana. Well rounded.
T: Simple, but good. Sour sweeps into apple core earthiness. Interesting rustic bitterness... in general, it reminds me of Cantillon Gueuze without the overwhelming acidity. Good.
M: Thinner with a creamy froth.
O: Good. This is a solid gueuze, but not outlandishly good.

 512 characters

Photo of csmiley
4.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a medium gold with some clarity. The off white head is minimal and sticks around for a minute or two before disappearing to a thin cap. Lots of lace stays in the glass.

S - Starts out with tart green apple and unripened cherry. Hints of white bread and alcohol midway. Alcohol doesn't get in the way at all. Pretty funky and musty toward the end with notes of wet hay.

T - Tart apple and cherry really pop at the start. Some oak / wood comes in about midway. Hay and grass are present as well. Might be some pale malt and honey at the end. Alcohol is warm and complimentary overall. Very nice flavor and complexity going on here.

M - Lighter bodied with a nice carbonation level that just tickles the palate. Finish is tart and persistent. Creamy and smooth overall.

D - Drinkability is very good. The strong flavors and overall complexity just keeps you coming back for sip after sip. This one goes down surprisingly easy. Lost Abbey has a winner with the Cable Car. It would be nice to see this one become more available in the future.

 1,052 characters

Photo of stephendr
4/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Toronado’s B-day - color of hazy mango, with a thin eggshell colored head - nose of apricots, sourness, cobwebs, slight sweetness, and dry– taste of apricots, sour, tart cherries, and slight cobwebs - body is medium, dry, and with medium to high carbonation – aftertaste of dried apricots, tart, dry, and gummy

 325 characters

Photo of MilwaukeeBeerMaker
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Recently took a trip to San Diego and this gem was available at Toronado. Its been on my bucket list for a long time and it was everything I hoped it would be. Good tart level, nice wood tones and just an overall enjoyable beer. Hope this won't be the only time in my life I get to try this. 2014 version.

 308 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to some very generous California BA's, I was able to do a full four year vertical involving 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. I am going to start from most recent version and work my way back.

2010 vintage
I bought a room temperature bottle of Cable Car 2010 first thing on Toronados 23rd Anniversary. I popped the cork and poured two servings. The color was closer to milky white and poured a white fluffy head that eventually left. It smelled borderline offensive, with a sulfur and egg white smell I was a little taken back by the extreme funk. I finally decided by the end of the glass compared to the other years that the smell was entirely offensive and disgusting. It tasted pretty good though, but was a bit of a let down. I later ordered a 2009 bottle and realized that this years batch was 'off' and not to par with the previous years. It tasted of extreme barnyard and must reminding me of some older Fantome beers I have consumed. It had a good carbonation and was drinkable, but the smell was distracting.

2009 vintage
After trying the 2010 vintage I suspected that something was not right and the hype surrounding this beer was for a reason. So I ordered a 2009 vintage and was pleasantly surprised by what I thought was the best year of the four. It had a great champagne color that had a nice white finely carbonated head that left pretty fast. It was oily in nature and incredible delicious. It had great lemon and grapefruit tart flavors with awesome lambic-like sourness. It just had a great lactic and pedio sourness that brought out a great tropical fruit flavor. It was highly carbonated which was perfect for this vintage, the palate was getting entertained from multiple levels. Sourness, carbonation, fruit flavors, awesome beer that I could drink multiple bottles of in one sitting. Delicious.

2008 vintage
After pairing the 2010 and 2009 vintages Nerd graciously told us that we had the 2008 and 2007 vintages to compare as well. So we got a healthy pour of each vintage, and I was surprised to learn how different they are were. The 2008 is probably tied or a little less awesome than the 2009. It has a little darker golden color with a head that leaves almost immediately. It smelled a little less fruity than it did must and horseblanket. Still owns a great flavor, really bitter orange peel with grapefruit. Peach and apricot are so fresh and upfront that it gives me reassurance that the hype around these bottles is well deserved. Again, highly carbonated with the flavors on this make it an amazingly drinkable sour.

2007 vintage.
My third favorite in the series, you could tell this one is on its way out. I would guess that a year ago this would be amazing, but right now it is a bit muddled and 'silent'. It was a lighter gold color with a head that actually lasted a second or two. It was a bit thinner than the previous two versions but surprisingly enough had a great deal of funk left. Lots of wet dog and mostly must, it was a great sour that was starting to take full circle into a 'funk' type category. It kind of had a stale basement taste, but I didn't mind at this point because I was getting deep in the inebriated category.

Thanks goes to the California and specifically the bay area crew, nerd being the king of generosity. A great day that will be remembered for days to come.


 3,340 characters

Photo of domtronzero
3.96/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Purchased at Toronado SD.

A - Very lightly hazy golden yellow colored. Big, white, long lasting head with tons of lacing. Very effervescent in appearance.

S - Tart, citrusy up front with a moderate fruity/funky aroma. Bready malts and light sulfuric aroma. Much lighter than when it was initially released last year.

F/M - Bready sweet pilsner-like malts with citrusy esters and a big, clean, lactic tart flavor. Very light sulfur. Medium bodied with moderately high carbonation. Light, prickly mouthfeel.

O - Pretty good, but not as good as previous vintages. Still an excellent wild ale, and worth seeking out.

 630 characters

Photo of djmichaelk
4.18/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, at Toronado SF (of course, where else?).

A - Slightly hazy straw-yellow, with a large rocky off-white head. Nice retention and lacing.

S - Okay, so I've heard plenty of reports -- from some people whose opinions I respect -- of sulfurous odors and such. I'm happy to say that I didn't get that at all in my bottle. I also shared it with a couple of people next to me and the bartender just to make sure, and no one had that experience. Not sure if I just got a good bottle or what. Anyway, plenty of lemon, lots of barnyard funk, and a good dose of oak. Very pleasant.

T - Pucking sourness right off the bat. Lemony flavors smack you in the face, and then the vinegar takes over. Oak is all up in your face. The funkiness really dominates, and I mean that in the best possible way. The citrus cuts through it in the end. Long dry finish. Very little alcohol evident.

M - Very nicely carbonated, with almost a creamy feel at times, and at other times almost champagne-like. Light and dry.

D - After most of a bottle, this didn't faze me too much. The flavors would keep me coming back if not for the obvious cost issue.

O - Hmmm. Is this a beer that I would cross the world for? Or pay $40 for again? Well, probably not. It's too similar to several cheaper, although also very limited, beers that I have in the cellar. But is it a beer that I'm very glad to have tried? Absolutely.

 1,402 characters

Photo of rudylaw
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My journey into sours' next stop is another long time want... '09 vintage.

Pours yellow with a large, white head.

Smells of citrus with grapes and peaches. Some vinegar with some puckering sourness.

A shockingly robust amount of citrus bombards the tongue. Mild sourness... am able to pick out those peaches and grapes I smelled. Wet hay and slight leather notes round it out. Delicious.

Perfect carbonation with some serious drinkability for a sour as it's not too sour. Amazing stuff.

 491 characters

Photo of Brez07
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage. Graciously shared by Drazzamatazz. 750ml bottle, poured into an Allagash glass

A: There was only a small pop when opening the bottle. Tangerine colored. Pours with a minimal amount of head. Translucent at first, but became cloudy with the second pour (dregs)

S: Citrusy, squeezed lemons, sweet tarts. Initially I didn't get a lot of funk (it was musty if anything), but as it opened up there was a cheesy/horse blanket aroma to signal the funk had arrived

T: Fairly lemony. Reminded me of the white sweet tarts right after you eat them. Lemon rind, apricot, maybe even some oak. Pretty sour, nice level of funkiness

M: Medium bodied. Lower carbonation, which ultimately I was fine with. Dry finish

D: What can I say, this was a great beer. Very happy to have finally tried it. At first I didn't get it, but the beer eventually showed me what was up. Seek out if you like sours

 895 characters

Photo of Auracom
4.06/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

What can you say? Crazy 2008 vintage share from Al, thanks so much WC big bro! 2 oz. into a glencairn at DLD 2014.

A - Nothing exciting. Plain-jane, honey colored juice with little trace of bubbles or froth.

S - Trace oak, and the age makes itself known. Not quite sawdust but more of a musty, weathered note. Vinegar, flora, champaign. Maybe a bit herbaceous. Bacteria is still kicking in some manure.

T - White wine, bitter unripened fruit adding to acidity, slightly acetic, plentiful oak tannins. It's missing balance with neither clean nor sweet fruit notes.

M - Very good. Lengthy finish, very dry, carbonation way more acceptable than it looked like it'd be.

D - It's lost some character over 6 years and not made up for it with sour development. Whereas Beatification is explosive and overbearing and DDG is fresh and focused, I find this sitting somewhere in the middle.

 885 characters

Photo of jeffthecheff
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this bottle at a tasting. 2007 version.

Cable Car pours an orange gold color that looks like it would be somewhat clear, but is actually completely hazed. The head is just about non existent, and even a swirl produces only a thin wisp.

The aroma is intense, fruity, and sour. There is a little bit of cellar like mustiness to it, and only a touch of funk. Sour lemons make up most of the nose, along with a background of some peach like fruitiness. This is intense, but pleasant throughout.

The taste is impressively sour with a good, mouth puckering lemon sourness. A bit of sweetness adds a candy like complexity which is great. It reminds me of one of those powdery, sour jawbreaker type candies I used to get in gumball machines. The finish is dry and very puckering.

The mouthfeel is nice and light, with a good level of "tiny bubble" carbonation to make it refreshing and easy to drink. I would love to have more of this. I'm very glad I got to try this.

 968 characters

Photo of fiver29
3.92/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted at Cleveland tasting on 8-23-08. Thanks!! Batch 2 was poured with a golden color and thin white head. Has a slight funk aroma, some citrus, and some spice. Has a medium body. Taste is tart, some fruits, and has a sweet sour finish on the back end. Overall I was expecting more from this beer. Considering the hype around it I found it did not live up to the hype. Its a solid brew, just not worth the ratings it gets here. And I wasn't the only one with those sentiments.

 478 characters

Photo of jsilva
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle shared at a tasting with some other BA's. Thanks Mutty for the chance to try this one.

2010 Vintage

A-Nice straw yellow pour with nice big white fluffy head into an allagash tulip.
S- Lemon, grass, earth, some slight horse blanket funk but really not too funky. Really crisp smell with a hint of mild sourness.
T- Very subdued tartness and super refreshing. Reminded me of a hot day and grabbing a saison or pilsner to quench the thirst but then leads into the slight funk and balanced sourness. Bright citrus fruits and lemon pepper.
M- Nice mouthfeel with med-high carbonation and really balanced dry sourness and crispness
D- Nice refreshing, light, balanced beer. This is one I could finish myself and still want more.

 732 characters

Photo of RustyDiamond
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle. Slight chill haze golden with frothy 2 fingers of white head. Aromas of champagne vinegar, apple cide vinegar, slight horse stable, meyer lemon. Effervescent dry and lemony on the nose. Slight lemony vinegar tartness. The funk is there, but underneath it all. Very dry and tart, moreso than sour or funky. Very delicious and highly drinkable. Splendid ringed lacing in the glass with a white ring staying on top of the golden liquid. More lemon than green apple, with zesty fruity to say the least. Dry yet glossy citric lemon tart mouthfeel, with a side of dry funk.

 580 characters

Photo of dmsohyea
4.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at Toronado SD, served in a tulip.

A - Pours light, orange-tinged yellow with a ton of thin, bubbly head. Probably 4 fingers. This one is certainly effervescent.

S - Wow! Tons of lemon and orange zest with a strong acidity that blows up in your face. A bit of honey, with few to no hops at all.

T - First few sips are all sweetness up front and sour on the finish. Sugary, honey sweetness right on the tip of your tongue, followed by floral lemon juice and bitterness, finishes with acid and more lemon. Some other citrus fruits can also be detected.

M - Mouthfeel is thin, but not watery. Carbonation is high, but mellows with each sip. A bit of astringency, but still doesn't feel bad on the mouth.

O - Way too expensive, but a very tasty brew. May have to bring a couple friends to drink one of these next time.

 826 characters

Photo of glazeman
4.03/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle at Toronado in San Diego

A: The beer pours a straw yellow color and is quite hazy. The head is fluffy white and about ¾ of a finger in size. Throughout the drink there was good head retention and nice lacing.

S: The smell was of chalky lemons with just a hint of wood/nuttiness

T: There’s a fair bit of lemons, sour, but not as much funk/earthiness as in many other wild ales. The flavor is not overwhelming by any means and has some oakiness and yeastiness up front.

M: The finish on this beer was balanced, enjoyable, and lingering. The carbonation was appropriate, as was the viscosity.

O: I was glad to have tried this, but given the exclusivity and price tag, probably won’t search it out again. It was good, but better, similar beers can be found much more easily.

 787 characters

Photo of bs870621345
4.66/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had at Toronado, gave a little to a guy sitting next to me...damn expensive but worth it.

Pours a cloudy yellow with a half inch head. Leaving no lacing and head fades quickly.

Smell is of oak, brett funk, lemons, vinegar, herbs, lactic, and bread...there is a lot going on...everything in balance and everything delicious.

Taste follows smell, each sip gives something new. Oak on the end with lemons cleaning the palate with carbonation. Vinegar, bread and brett are inital and they all carry though to the end.

Mouthfeel is moderate with good carbonation, would be excellent to pair with a burger or steak.

Overall its a great one. Price tag is high but I'm on vacation!

 678 characters

Photo of muttyd
4.62/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

*Reviewed from notes*

2010 vintage shared with some BAs.

Crystal clear yellow pour with a big fizzy white head. Aroma is eggy, funky, and has a slight band-aid/plastic presence as well. The underlying flavor is similar to that of a saison - grainy, lemony, peppery. Flavor also consists of wood, barnyard funk, and tropical fruits. Sourness is moderate - not too offensive. Medium body and carbonation. Very dry, crisp finish.

Truly a world-class beer.

 455 characters

Photo of jale
4.7/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Eric for letting me try this.

A: Pours yellow with minimal head.

S: Lemon tartness and great funkiness. Just like a wild should be.

T: Great initial citrus sourness followed by that nice barnyard funk. Very smooth and exactly what a wild should taste like.

M: Light body.

O: I would drink this over and over again.

 334 characters

Photo of CoolJosh
4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Shared by Treyrab at our coveted Graduation Tasting.

Pours a very gold light brown that shines ever so perfectly when held up to the light. A spotty white head floats atop, which leaves slight remnants of lacing behind. Very beautiful haze, and a darker then I was expecting the body to be.

The smell contains tons of bitter lemon, and is fairly sweet. There is a lot of grapefruit in this scent as well, which is a followed by a nice orange tartness. Vanilla and horse blanket lay secondary in the background.

The taste is awesome. My palate picked out tart grapefruit, orange and lemon. The beer is a really nice dryness to it, which really plays well with all that is sweet and kickin'. This beer reminds me slightly of Sanctification, minus the cherry. It is a little bit lighter then some of the other wild ales we have tried today which deters the mouthfeel score. The dryness continues to linger well after each sip. The vanilla is very soft and hardly noticeable as sticks out most with warmth. There is also a funky cheese taste that plays well with all of the other flavors. Not to keep playing the memory game, but this also reminds me of a carbonated version of 3 Fonteinen's Dosjel with carbonation.

Really glad I got to see what all the talk is about!

 1,270 characters

Photo of Shogun250
4.96/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I actually thought this one met the hype. Crazy complex, well done beer. Hazy, light, very aromatic and the aftertaste kept going in a good way. This was even a 2014 and prob gets better with age. I had this side by side with 2013 DDG which was also top notch for me this beer was a tad more enjoyable. I am rating this however with price not in mind. When I had this next to a 375 ml CD14 it was tough to justify how much I gave up for it. No regrets definitely nice to have once. Hard to think any blond sour ale could be better.

 538 characters

Photo of OlieIPA
3.82/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2010 edition poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Cabernet glass.

A: Body exhibits a deep yellow hue, mild lacing, and a bold white fizzy head.

S: The nose is hit hard with a strong tartness at first, but then follows through with aromas similar to banana/tropical fruit. Wood becomes more noticeable as the beer begins to warm up.

T: The flavor profile is weaker/lighter than the smell indicated earlier. Definitely has that tart/sour kick you look for within this style, but is overbearing at times. So much that it applies a harsh character that masks some of the underlying flavors. Along with that, the oak is robust as well, perhaps too much.

M: Very light in body with ample amounts of carbonation.

D: Even with some of it's harsh qualities, this beer is quite enjoyable and goes down quite easily.

Overall: A very good "sour" for sure, just not sure if it's the best. I prefer "Duck Duck Gooze" and/or "Isabelle Proximus" over "Cable Car". A must try. Cheers!

 972 characters

Photo of nkersten
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2007 bottle generously shared at a recent Chicago crew tasting, thanks! Pours a golden yellow with no head, some bubbles here and there. Smell is a musky spice, some lemon and acidic notes, a bit of funk. Taste is pretty amazing - tart orange, cinnamon spiciness, sour but very clean. Some mellow peaches in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium/light with a low carbonation, not too dry but finishes clean. An amazing beer, different from any sour I have had. Very, very drinkable.

 476 characters

Cable Car from The Lost Abbey
4.49 out of 5 based on 947 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!