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Nota Bene Abbey Ale | Ben Middlemiss Brewing

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Nota Bene Abbey AleNota Bene Abbey Ale

Brewed by:
Ben Middlemiss Brewing
New Zealand (Aotearoa)

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Nota Bene is an amazing new take on a classic beer from the stable of Ben Middlemiss Brewing. Ben decided to revive a classic Belgian-Style Abbey beer which he last brewed several years ago under another name. Seeking to re-release this beer and still have a tongue and cheek reference to the former name, the new adaptation is called Nota Bene, Latin for "Note Well!"

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.

Please cellar it as you would a fine wine, but ensuring that you keep it upright so as not to disturb the protective yeast. This will help the beer develop through phases over the years. Chill upright for approximately half an hour before serving. Nota Bene goes wonderfully well with cheeses, pastas, tasty European sausages and many other dishes, including asparagus and egg dishes – not to mention the desserts, like fruitcake and apple crumble.

Added by jgasparine on 05-01-2011

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Reviews: 10 | Ratings: 19
Reviews by jgasparine:
Photo of jgasparine
4.1/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 2010

A- Poured with a finger of offwhite foamy head, which was somewhat retained. Some traces of lacing down the sides of the glass. The orange-amber colored body was well-carbonated.

S- A big nose comprised of Begian yeasty esters, big crackerlike malts, and some impressions of non-descript spice. This leads me to anticipate some a dry and bold beer on the palate.

T- As expected, this beer is bursting with flavor. Some big Belgian yeast and crackerlike malt hit the palate first, revealing some light fruit esters, candi sugar, and some mild spiciness from the yeast. Some mild hop bitterness emerges in the finish, which lingers on the palate. Surprisingly, the EtOH does not seem to have an impact on the taste.

M- A medium body with a pervasive carbonation. I wouldn't call it a "soft" carbonation, but I wouldn't call it "bloating" either. The EtOH brings a mild warming sensation to the palate. Astringency is nonexistent.

D- Quite drinkable, and the alcohol is dangerously hidden in this brew. This is my first beer from New Zealand, and I great one at that. I look forward to having another!

 1,120 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of ordybill
1.98/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 2.25 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2

Poured from a 33 CL bottle into a pint glass.
Aroma- Smelled stale with malt and alcohol
Appearance- This is a dark brown beer with no head.
Taste- Not impressed, I don't care for the flavor mix of malt and raisins(?)
Palate- A medium to full bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Has a syrupy texture.
Overall- I did not like this, I struggled to finish it.

 360 characters

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Nyrangersgrrl
2.76/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Photo of ygtbsm94
1.57/5  rDev -50.3%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Aroma of fruit, malt, faint ABV, raisin, sour note, acetone. Taste is astringent, figs, souring.

96 characters

Photo of Tone
3.56/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, brown color. One inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, hint of biscuit, alcohol, slight dark citrus, yeast, hops, and a hint of floral aroma. Does not seem to fit the style of a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It more closely resembles a Belgian Dark Ale. I'm going to review it as a Belgian Dark Ale instead of the current classification of a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, slight roasted malt, dark citrus, hops, alcohol, and hint of floral. Overall, decent aroma, body, but the blend is too sweet.

 643 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle pour at the bottle share held at Chloe's inside Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, CA.

Bottled in 2010.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, dark fruit, and spice aromas. Taste is much the same with malt and spice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer that is fairly drinkable but seems to be showing signs of oxidation.

 652 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.87/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A belgian strong ale from New Zealand? The times get stranger every day. And all for the better.

As a beer, it definitely works. But there is an alcohol burn to it that detracts a bit. Seems to be a high grain aftertaste or something? Creates a really deep flavor profile that seems a bit too much. But like I said, this works as a beer. I've certainly had a lot worse Belgian ales. Nice to see new styles coming out of countries that you don't normally see them.

 464 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
2.54/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Even just a few years ago, seeing a Kiwi craft beer wash up the shores of Orange County was exciting. Today, a nnumber of brands are available to purcahse, perhaps dampening the anticipation. Okay, I'll confess, I'm usually excited to try a new beer. Another Belgian-styled Kiwi beer is on the way. Bottled in 2010 and coming out of the 330 ml bottle, it's on to the beer:

Despite the beer's classification, there's nothing pale about the color. It's a darker color, but it's not exactly dark. It's ugly, that's what it is. A muddy, light brownish color with hues that want to be paler colored, but don't know how to get there. There's no head at all, either on the pour or formed after the pour. The nose is better, but still messy. Old, melted chocolate, raisins, brown sugar, bozze. The balancing of the flavors just don't balance themselves.

There is some bit of Belgium in this beer, but even more of a beer that is underwhelming overall. The tastes just seem older and tired. Tired malt, tired cocoa, tired sugar, tired fruitiness. The alcohol is there, though it's not much of an obstruction to the overall beer, and it provides a zip of vague spiciness and bitterness. There is a bright spot however, and it's the mouthfeel. It's not quite full bodied, definately bigger than medium bodied, modest bubbly carbonation providing itself. The aftertaste lingers with a bittersweet (mostly bitter) flavor.

Less joy and more sorrow from this bottle. Not as appealing as the brewery's dubble, and certainly not as good as Moa's Belgian offerings. This beer can stay in Australasia.

 1,587 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
2.75/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a very hazed golden brown colour, with an almost non-existent film of white for a head, which only forms a ring halfway around the glass. Thick body, extremely viscous and gooey. Carbonation is almost non-existent as well, which may explain the lack of head. Eh.

Nose is flat and a little oxidised by the smell of it. Some slight spicy clove characters, and a hint of dark fruit, but it's very subdued. Some boozy wafting characters, but I wonder if I only imagine them because I'm looking for something in the beer. Pretty weak.

Taste is harsh and slightly phenolic, with the booze definitely coming through strongly. This gives it an almost biting acidity, although the heat is enough to bring it back to the realm of booze. Rather lacking in sweetness, depth, spice and complexity, all the hallmarks of the style.

Big miss from me. This has the harsh, over-attenuated boozy one-dimensionality of malt liquor, the look and lack of carbonation suggest bad homebrew. Really not recommended.

 999 characters

Photo of rudzud
2.72/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 1.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Recently stumbled across my notes from The Festival 2012. Lets do this! Tried both a vintage of this, and a fresh one. The review is of the fresh one.

A - Poured a, surprisingly, deep dark brown hue, the colour of mud, with no head at all. Really looks like a glass of murky water. Uh oh...

S - Aroma is..ah, just not that good. Old malts, chocolate, sugars, dark fruits (raisins), and booze, lots and lots of booze.

T - Taste is mediocre, average I guess. Like the nose the sugary sweet malts at there, along with some rather faint dark chocolate, raisins, and some alcohol. I guess some is acceptable for the ABV.

M - Mouthfeel is not too too bad, the carbonation helps prevent this from being weighed down/syrupy.

O - Overall I was disappointed by this beer. Had really been hoping to try their IPA.

 807 characters

Photo of ADZA
3.6/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky orange hue which leaves a one finger head and nice clingy lacing,the smell is ripe peaches,belgian yeast,banannas and candy,the mouthfeel is light bodied and a let down for me and has tastes of funky esters,belgian yeast,doughy bread,apricots,peaches,light spice and finished with a raspberry tart finish with its high ABV very well hidden and overall the mouthfeel lacks for me but it is very drinkable cheers.

 425 characters

Photo of JAHMUR
3.25/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of OKCNittany
3.16/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Photo of afsdan
3.75/5  rDev +18.7%

Photo of dgilks
3.59/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy, dark amber colour with a foamy, small, light tan head. Poor head size and retention.

Bright tropical fruit aroma with notes of overripe mango. A distinctly hoppy Belgian style ale with the fruit and spice esters and phenols from the yeast also coming through. Fairly malty as well with some caramel notes.

Again, this is a hoppy Belgian style ale with that balance of tropical fruit from the Kiwi hops, mild phenolic clove notes and some other Belgian esters presenting. A little singular and lacking in depth and complexity.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. Quite light and "digestible".

A nice New Zealand take on a Belgian ale. To my mind it is a bit ordinary as it lacks the brilliant malt complexity of a real Belgian ale.

 745 characters

Photo of XmnwildX12
2.5/5  rDev -20.9%

Photo of tykechandler
4/5  rDev +26.6%

Photo of misternebbie
2.63/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2

Nota Bene Abbey Ale from Ben Middlemiss Brewing
3.16 out of 5 based on 19 ratings.
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