Isabelle Proximus | The Lost Abbey

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Isabelle ProximusIsabelle Proximus

Brewed by:
The Lost Abbey
California, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
In March of 2006 five guys, Adam Avery, Vinnie Cilurzo, Rob Todd, Tomme Arthur and Sam Calagione accompanied Lorenzo Dabove, The Prince of Pajottenland, through a tour of Belgium's finest geuze producers. Many of the mysteries of lambic production were answered along the way. They vowed to return to the states to brew a sour beer celebrating their experiences. In November of 2006 they reunited at Port Brewing to brew Isabelle Proximus.

In this bottle, you'll find the answers to many of the questions that were posed along their journey near the river Senne. However, like the mysteries of lambic beers, there remains one lingering question that was left unresolved. We hope like us, the next time you're on a pilgrimage to Brussels you'll drop by the Empire Club and let us know whether you prefer Green or Orange...

Added by John_M on 05-22-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 219 | Ratings: 439
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

so, I decided to finally try this beer. I've been enjoying more wild ales as of late. So, how's it rate?

A - slightly hazy straw yellow color. 1st half of pour was crystal clear but the sediment did not stay at the bottom very well, even after a month in the beer cellar. Oddly, it had almost no head at all but wound up with a small steady white head that appears mid glass.

S - lightly sour, tart, citric, sweet tarts, hint of funk

T - similar to the aroma but with a higher level of acidity and citrus.

M - medium bodied, steady carbonation, puckerish tart.

D - lighter in body, tangy, tart, crisp, sour, tangy, sour. GOOD.

I think I just eleveated my sour acidity level of happyness. I enjoyed this tangy, sour, crisp beverage. It is prices though at $30 a 750ml bottle though....

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.87/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed this one from the Sinner;s relase when it came out and have not had the chance to try it yet. I decided to pop the top off it tonight and give it a go and I am glad that I did. Served at cellar temp and consumed via a snifter on 08/28/2008.

The pour was very nice, extremely hazy golden amber color greated me as I opened the bottle. A nice head, maybe an inch and a half in height the came up over the top and settled down to a broken layer across the top and some light side glass lace. Lots of sediment on the bottom and floating around in the glass.

The aroma, shit I do not even know how to put this in words. Super Brett Overload would be good, others might say perfect. This was just tremendously good. Super sour and funky in every sense of the word. Just compeltly blowing apart the senses. The flavor was more of the same. Just rediculous amounts of super funky and sour notes that were just layered on top of each other. Lots of funky Brett an light fruit notes. Hints of pear and peac, but just retarded bitter. This is the most bitter ale I have ever encountered. Awesome body on this one as well, medium with delicate carbonation and a rich sultry feel that was just friggin unreal. A sipper not due to the ABV but the huge sourness of it. Nearly impossible to take a large sip, but why would you want to.

This was just awesome. Super bitter, nice hints of pears and some light cherry almost. Rich, complex, just wonderful. Lost Abbey pulls off anothero ne with this gem. I dont care about 30 bucks a bottle, I would get more in a heartbeat. One of the best beers i have had period.

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Photo of DIM
4.87/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

a: The first glass was a clear, pale golden color. It poured with a big creamy white head that didn't stick around very long. When I set the bottle down, I saw huge yeasty chunks break away from the bottom. As a result, subsequent glasses were muddied.

s: This has an astoundingly good gueuze nose! Musty, floral apple cider vinegar comes immediately to mind. Earthy, funky, almost rotten grains as well. Overall, this was pungent, sour, and had an odd prickly quality that tickled my nose.

t: My gueuze experience is limited but, here again, I'm reminded of a world class gueuze. I have a hard time describing sour beers, but here we go anyway. My most common description for brews like this is a musty, acidic apple cider vinegar. This was on the high end of acidity because my heartburn was pretty acute. Well worth it though. The finish was dry with a little bit of oakiness that helped blunt the tart bite on this one.

m: The carbonation was fizzy and prickly but didn't last long enough. The sharp, biting after taste stuck around for a long time though.

d: Huge thanks to Gueuzedude for this via LIF. I'm thrilled to have had the chance to try this one. This was a materpiece that exceeded the hype. If you get the chance to try this, jump on it. I'm not disagreeing with the classification here, but I think it would be fair to also call this a world class gueuze.

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Photo of illidurit
4.2/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle sampled at Lost Abbey for RBSG 08. Poured into a wine glass. Gold with a radiant orange hue. Very little head/lacing. Gueuze-like aroma: lemon and vinegar. Flavor is similar, sharp tart citrus and lactic and acetic acids, with a tempering oak finish that's brimming with brett funk. Sour but not too heavy.

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Photo of rbuckstar
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Shared with BA tprokop7.

Poured a beautiful cloudy amber color with a slight amount of head. Faint fruitiness and sour but not overpowering smell. The taste is incredible, nice and sour but beautifully balanced. Mouthfeel is perfect with a little carbonation but balances the beer perfectly. Very drinkable although it tastes a little while because of the strength of the taste but i'm not complaining too much.

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Photo of tprokop7
4.87/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got a couple of bottles of this thanks to some great traders. Shared with BAs rbuckstar and balberts, into Rodenbach glasses from the corked/caged 750.

Pours bright and cloudy, with little head. Smells of sour fruits. Taste is very balanced for a sour, much more drinkable than a typical one. I've been lucky enough to have two great American sours in the last two days.

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Photo of hopsleeroy
4.33/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle shared by some great BA's.

A-Poured into sniffer, brightish orange and golden color, Nice head, that laced for a while
S-Tartness dominates at first with apples and sour citrus, musty earthy yeast as well
T-Again Tart and some sweetness upfront. Very acidic which makes the taste difficult toidentify right away. As it warms and I drink more, I get used to the acidity and taste citrus fruit, mild oak, and a peppery yeast spice
M-Very carbonated and light in mouth. Finishes fairly dry.
D-Difficult at first to drink but gets easier and more enjoyable with each sip and as it warms

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.82/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Popped one of these open today after a tough week of work.
Pours a slightly hazy bright golden color with an ample head. Very carbonated, I had to be careful not to pour to vigorously. Aroma hits you with a fruity sourness, funky Belgian yeast, sour apples, plums, some oak in there too. Taste is sour, no kidding huh? Lots of lactic acidity, tastes of sour fruits starts apple like then finishes more towards a tangy cirtusy sour. Some oak and a maybe some horsey in there as well. Body is medium but finishes quite dry. The sour lingers long after each sip, almost like the mouth coating one would get sucking on a lemon. Exceptional brew that I'm glad I got the chance to try.

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Photo of prototypic
4.52/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It pours a very hazy golden color. Minute chunks of sediment can be seen swimming about. Given the amount in the bottom of the bottle, that's not surprising. Sitting atop is a white head that's about a finger deep. It dissipated very quickly and left only a very light, spotty bit of lace on the glass.

Smell: The nose is very, very good. It's citrusy sweet and tart initially. There's some lemon (primarily), orange, grapefruit, and maybe even apple present. An interesting spicy aroma blends pretty well although I can't identify it. It is a little funky due to the use of Brett. It's musky and earthy smelling and has the ol' "barnhouse" thing going. A bit of an oak smell emerges as it opens up a little and really plays a nice complementary role. I like that aspect of the nose a lot. It's very complex and enticing.

Taste: The flavor is equally is good as the nose, if not better. It's sweet and a little sugary up front. The citrus lemon and grapefruit are a bit of a jumpstart to get the "tart" engine buzzing. Tart it is. Initially, it's mildly tart, but intestifies with each passing drink. Personally, I thought that was an interesting characteristic here. While it is tart and very sour, it's not relentlessly so. It's a very appetizing tartness. It is a little spicy, but I still can't identify it. It's a very secondary element here. The funky "Brett" flavor is indeed musky, earthy, and a little acidic. Again, it's nicely done here. Definitely not too funky. The oak flavor adds quite a bit though its presence is somewhat subtle. It finishes sweet and sour.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's medium bodied and has a very smooth feel. Very silky. Carbonation is pretty active considering it yielded a minimal head and short retention. Nonetheless, they nailed feel here. Drinkability is very high. With a smooth feel like this and low abv at 7%, I'd have no problem downing a 750 if I were so inclined. But, I'm not into sessioning sours so I probably wouldn't have any more than that.

Isabelle Proximus the fine result of a concerted efforted from some of our best brewers. I can't say it's any better than some of the individual efforts of those same brewers. We've been blessed with some fine beers from all of them. True to their form, this one is excellent, as well. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely check it out.

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Photo of csmiley
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Many tx to prototypic for a chance to try this one.

A - Caged and corked. Pours murky and medium to dark gold. Head was minimal and somewhat disappointing. Retention can't be rated given the lack of head. Some lacing remained around the glass after starting to sample the Isabelle.

S - Sour fruitiness abounds immediately after popping the cork. Notes of apples and grapes are noticed first. Hints of lemon are in there too. Barnyard aromas start to shine about midway and include: hay, grass, and loads of oak / wood. Mild honey and a small amount of spice are on the tail end.

T - Starts out sour with fruity goodness. A healthy amount of apple and lemon. Grapes pop up now and again. The oak is not as strong as the aroma suggests but still has a nice presence. The earthy flavors are mild but provide a nice base to showcase the fruit. I am able to pick out grain, hay, wood, and grass. Sharp spice rounds out the flavor and resembles pepper.

M - Medium bodied with great carbonation. Smooth overall. Finish is tangy and hangs on for a while.

D - Drinkability is good. It is smooth but still has the sour pungent flavors I expect from the style. The oak is a nice addition that takes out some of the initial sour punch of the brew. Very well done wild ale from Port Brewing. Highly recommended for any fans of Wild Ales.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The drink pours a hazy shade of lemonade with a thin white head that pretty well vanishes without leaving any lacing behind.

Smell is sour and a touch woody, with a motherlode of yeasty funk going on.

Taste is dry, dry, dry, sour as all hell and crisp with flavors of lemon rind and juice,funky barnyard, bitter Brie cheese rind, apple cider vinegar and a bit of Tang.

Drinkability is superb, as is the lively carbonation.

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Photo of RustyDiamond
4.3/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bright, hazy yellow/orange appearance in a tulip stem. Nice 1 finger of off-white froth that fizzled down into a nice film.
Aromas of stinky cheese, socks, and Brett.
Huge 1st wave of sour green apple, Funk, with some oak thrown in. All of these flavors hit real fast, then faded revealing a fairly thin body. Then, the flavors came back again at the finish, which was pretty dry.
I plan to try another bottle in 6-9 months, to see if the flavors round out a little more. But I am not the least disappointed with this fine effort.

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Photo of Floydster
4.87/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle generously picked up for me by seaoflament, thanks a lot buddy for doing me a favor, the cost of this bad boy was thirty dollars but well worth it in my opinion, celebrated graduating from business school with an MBA with this one last night, split with my mom and dad, poured into my St. Feuillien snifter

A-Bright golden yellow color, frothy and bubbly white head that was over an inch, did not go anywhere for a while which was weird because there was so much carbonation, nice retention, minimal lacing

S-Brettanomyces, peaches, lemons, funkiness, salt, Belgian yeast, oak, kiwi, strawberries, cheese, oranges, horse blanket, honey, whole grains, musty aromas, and sour apples

T-Taste was very acidic right from the start, extremely sour, big citrus flavor up front, along with some peche that was most likely from Dogfish Head's addition of their Festina, Russian River's brew also has a big influence most likely because I recognize that distinct sourness that all of their barrel aged beers have, this beer got more citrusy as time went on, finish became dryer like most gueuzes do, oak was strong in the aftertaste and made it even more dry, became more fruity as it warmed and the tartiness settled down a little bit but still definitely there, this one had it all and every sip was different, gold in sour beer form

M-Funky, sour, dry, and fruity mouthfeel, body was thin to medium in thickness, taste lingered forever and I was not complaining, tons of carbonation but not too much, feel was aggressive and popping

D-Could have drank this bottle by myself, alcohol is hidden, ABV is fairly high for its style at seven percent, light on the stomach though and not too sour, keeps you coming back for more consistently

I knew this beer would be good if five of the craft beer world's best brewers were part of it, Tomme Arthur is a brewing genius, I will go out on a limb and say it was the best gueuze I have ever had, funny to hear that the beers by themselves were not great but when the five were blended it became a masterpiece, wish I had more of this stuff, will be drinking more at the Stone Sour Fest on Sunday for sure, this one will only get better with complexity over time, would drink more right now if I had it, highly recommended

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Photo of largadeer
4.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Straw-colored and rather hazy, almost opaque in my snifter. An inch of head rises and then quickly dissipates, leaving no lace as it falls. Pretty standard gueuze-like appearance.

Smell: Funky as hell in an absolutely bizarre way. Sweat, dirty socks and a generous amount of salt and musty barrel. I've never smelled anything quite like this. I don't know if it's pleasant, but it's certainly compelling.

Taste & mouthfeel: Very sour and fruity, but in a decidedly American way - this has a clean and concentrated sourness without a ton of vinegar-like flavors, and the oak is plainly noticeable. Flavors of apple cider, lemon peel and tannic oak dominate the palate. No sweetness here; this one is bone-dry. The finish ends on a slightly bitter and tannic note, much like an amped up gueuze. Carbonation is pretty much ideal; it's lively but not excessive, reminding me a whole lot of the Cantillon gueuze that I drank a few hours before this one.

Notes: Great stuff and I'm glad to see more American brewers attempting styles like this. The closest thing I can compare it to is Russian River's Beatification, and while I don't think it's quite up to par with that brew, it's still highly enjoyable. Recommended.

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.6/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap during the release party at the brewery. Very light Golden Ale with a small head. Good amount of carbonation. Lactic sour and full of critters as Tomme Arthur calls them giving it a wonderful Belgian Farmhouse flavor and aroma. Not cheap by any means but extremely limited and rare. I think there were only 250 cases made. Bought my alottment and will store them for a couple years as Tomme Arthur suggested to give them time to develop even more character.

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Photo of DrunkenMaster
4.52/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle at O'Briens. Color is a cool murky gold with a fantastic head and beautiful lacing. Aroma is funk, lemon and wood. I don't get any cheese which is nice. Mmmm sour, spicy and extremely dry. Very nicely balanced. This is exactly what I want out of a sour.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.55/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a frothy, initially three-finger thick, pale, almost white colored head. The beer shows a hazy, orange-tinged straw color as it sits in my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip, but shows a hazed, glowing gold / straw color when held up to the light. The aroma is sour and funky, possibly more funky than it is sour though. There is a very strange fruitiness here, sort of tropical (kiwi), but tartly citrus like (lemon) and somehow reminds me of over-ripened strawberries. Other funky notes of ripe cheese, spicy oak, ample sweat-dried horse blanket, sharp phenolics, orange zest and moldy cured leather are all noticeable. This almost has a light herbal component to it, perhaps a bit like nettle and there is a nice cracker-like grain aroma that is noticeable once you start digging around. The biggest aromatic components are the ripe-funky-cheese character, tart lactic acid, and the signature Brettanomyces funk. Perhaps a bit too oak-leaning (though it only has a soft, spicy / hot oak character) for a typical Gueuze, but it could easily pass for some sort of traditional Lambic as far as the nose goes.

Very sour, much more than the aroma might have suggested. The bracing tartness is very Lactic, though there seems to be a touch of acetic character here, especially towards the finish. Soft and creamy feeling, despite the prickly carbonation, with a body that belies the bone dry palate (just like a good Gueuze should be). Spicy oak notes add a touch of warmth to the finish along with a touch of alcohol heat. Flavors of tart grapefruit are offset towards the finish by an almost savory, though quite funky, marinated mushroom flavor; the particular marinade seems to be a mix of Worcester sauce, perhaps a dash of miso and something almost onion / garlic like. This last note actually lingers on at the roof of my mouth long after I have finished each sip, though it is quite light in effect. This has a funky, ripe cheese flavor to it that is reminiscent of a stinky French, farmhouse cheese as well as ample Brettanomyces funk of butyric acid, barnyard notes and sweaty / musty horse-blanket notes.

Once the palate gets used to the bracing acidity (which happens after the first couple sips), this becomes exceedingly drinkable. As it warms up that weird, savory, marinated, onion-juice soaked, mushroom note becomes a bit more noticeable; really it adds more of an interesting dimension to things than anything though, especially since it is so different than anything I have tasted in a Sour beer before. Still it makes me wonder, what fermentation by-product tastes like onions. The second pour of this restores the prickly carbonation, but still does not detract from the soft, velvety mouthfeel.

A fantastic beer, definitely not a Gueuze clone (I don't think the brewers meant it to be anyway) as it brings some interesting flavor / funk notes that I have never found in a Lambic before. The light, but more noticeable than usual, oak spiciness also adds another dimension. Simply tasty, though in a very complex manner. This has a bit more heft to it than a typical Gueuze, though the only way I really notice this is because it is taking me longer to drink than a 750ml of Gueuze usually takes me. The texture of this beer really is quite nice though, so soft, velvety and creamy. I certainly cannot get enough of this & I am now wishing that I was somehow able to get more than my 12 bottle allocation of this; hopefully this will be a semi-regular offering that I can get more of.

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Photo of Overlord
4.92/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Absolutely awesome. IMHO, out Russian Rivered Russian River. I only planned on picking up a few, and ended up with a full allotment after trying an 8 oz glass.

Pours a clear golden orange. Some stray bubbles, but no head and very little carbonation. Strangely, the mouthfeel seems appropriate.

Smells like unripe apples, sour pears, and sour funk. Maybe some tart cherries/raspberries in there. The barnyard sourness is just wondrous. The oak background is definitely present, but more nuanced and subtle than other wild ales I've tried (translation: it doesn't bombard the crap out of you).

Now, I may be a bit biased, as I loved the three Russian River wild ales, La Folie Wood Aged, and gueuzes, but this was absolutely great. I could have drank a pitcherful, as it somehow never gets overwhelming despite the uber-strong flavor.

Lost Abbey does miss from time to time (particularly for the price), but this isn't one of them. Up there with their best, and perhaps my favorite of their brews. This is one example of the Beeradvocate scoring system somewhat skewing my true impression. I can't give a "6" for taste to balance out the appearance.

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Photo of John_M
3.75/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I'm not sure which is crazier; that I'm the one to add this beer or that I'm even reviewing it. Had recently at the Brick during the Lupulin Reunilun. By all accounts this beer is quite limited.

The beer pours a hazy gold color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose.... good night what an aroma. A gueuze lover would be in heaven with the aromas in this beer. One gets brie and head cheese, coupled with honey. There's also some cherry I think, but it's completely overwhelmed by the sour funk in this beer. Ewww! On the palate the beer is every bit as unusual with flavors of lemonade and sweet ice tea, which on the finish is overwhelmed with an ocean of sour. The sour funk is just too much for me and ultimately drowns out the other flavors. The beer has a light mouthfeel and the abv. doesn't seem too high. Despite the lightness on the palate, it's also rather viscuous. Odd beer and definitely not my cup of tea. Still, if you like sours (lambics and gueuze), my guess is you will love this beer.

Nasty stuff.... :-)

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Isabelle Proximus from The Lost Abbey
4.54 out of 5 based on 439 ratings.
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