Descent - Imperial Abbey Ale | Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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Very Good
23 Ratings

Brewed by:
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.30%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This deep amber Imperial Abbey Ale melds malt and earth, spice and fruit to create a wonderful vehicle to wind down the day. Belgian yeast contributes flavor notes that accent the raisins and grains of paradise used in the brewing process. With strength and stamina, DESCENT is deliberately impetuous in its mission.

25 IBU

Added by AKBelgianBeast on 03-22-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 23 |  Reviews: 19
Reviews by ajs4bd:
Photo of ajs4bd
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%

More User Reviews:
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well. After looking at this label it has finally sunk in that I am going to have to look at all your ugly mugs everytime i want to drink a beer from this series. Creepy.

This is Kourtney's addition to the brew crew series. Imperial abbey ale brewed with raisins and grains of paradise. Cheers Kourtney!!!

Pours a nice deep glowing ruby with some orange tint. Totally clear with a big off white almost manilla head. Retention is excellent, pillowy head holds on well after a vigorous pour leaving ok lacing.

The nose is some deep belgian style malt sweetness, the spices come out in the nose, almost an anise like smell, though mild. There is some belgian yeast clear in here as well.

Taste is pretty good. The raisins come out quite strong. Melds well with the malt profile. The grains of paradise are tough to detect, unless that is the anise like flavor im getting, even then, it is subtle enough. There is a good mild sweetness in here. Not enough to be cloying, but enough to make the raisin flavors show off. I tried this one flat about a month ago, and the raisins come out way more now than they did then. The finish is drier than i expected, but by no means a "dry" beer. aftertaste lingers with some sweetness and a lick of spice.

Mouthfeel is very nice here. I really really like the viscosity of the beer, but it is slightly overcarbonated. Although I do like this better than the tap version. Again, nailed the viscosity.

Drinkability is pretty good, but I couldn't see myself drinking more than a bomber. The abv is right where I would guess it would be.

Overall a very nice beer brewed by K-Dogg. Defenitely impressed with the viscosity. I think the flavor profile could be tweaked some. Its good how it is, but I think there is room for improvement there. I would love to see what would happen if this beer was cranked up to about 10% with a little bit more rich, traditional quad like profile. However, that being said, this is a great example of a non specific abbey ale. Defenitely an enjoyable beer and one i will revisit. If dubbels are too thin for you, and quads are too heavy for you, this beer is the one you need to reach for. Good work.

So far, the brew crew series is looking good. Can't wait to try the rest of them. I have a feeling when Reid's pilsner arrives Im gonna get a DUI in a golf cart and be waking up next to alot of ugly chicks.

 2,378 characters

Photo of miketd
4.07/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle in trade from Ratebeer. Pours dark brown with a white head. Aroma is plum, fig, earth, yeast and caramel. Flavor is plum, fig, toffee and a bit of chocolate. Nice body... thick and chewy. Alcohol is not apparent. Very good beer that reminds me a bit of Westy 12.

 269 characters

Photo of nickd717
3.56/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber via trade thanks to akbeerfiend.

Pours a deep clear reddish amber color with a well-formed white head and some good lacing.

Aroma is markedly Belgian and yeasty with sweet malt, spices, candi sugar, and fruity notes.

Flavor is similar to the aroma. Sweet caramel malt, toffee, and candi sugar, along with lots of spicy Belgian yeast and dried fruits. A little sweeter than I'd like.

Decent palate, medium-full bodied with a good carbonation level.

Overall this is a reasonably good effort from "K-Dogg" (weird name for a guy in Alaska to call himself).

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark russet brown with lots of carbonation leading to a large off white head, great retention and a significant lace. Smell was fruity, lots of pear, apple and fig hints with a tiny bit of alcohol. The taste followed along the same line, lots of robust flavors, with a decent warming on the feel. Nice smooth feel and a good all around beer. This was another fine offering from Unibroue, everything I have tried from them to date has been excellent, this was no exception. Lots of yeast led to a lively feel on the palate.

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Photo of ygtbsm94
2.5/5  rDev -36.7%

Photo of womencantsail
3.28/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks for sharing, Bobby.

A: The pour is clear amber in color with an off-white head.

S: The nose is fairly typical for a dark Belgian beer. Dark grapes, miscellaneous red fruits, and raisins. A nice spiciness to it, yeast, and candi sugar. Nice dark maltiness to it as well.

T: Starts off with a solid malty flavor and a subtle roasted note. There's also a really toasty flavor to this beer that is certainly different. Lots and lots of dark red fruits as well as some of the more typical descriptors like raisins and spice. Really strange and all over the place.

M: The body is medium to full with a moderate carbonation.

D: Not exactly what I look for in a Belgian Abbey ale, but not terrible, I suppose. A bit too sweet for me.

 737 characters

Photo of John_M
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the brewery just a week ago, so it ought to be pretty fresh.

The beer pours a lovely amber color, but with glowing red highlights The beer also has very good head retention and lacing, and I have to say this beer just looks great. On the nose I get the impression this will be a fairly sweet beer, something that was confirmed with the first sip. Nevertheless, the nose is pretty attrative, with noticeable brown sugar, cream soda, a touch of rootbeer, cinnamon and spice. Flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, except this beer is a bit sweeter then I was expecting or would have preferred. Flavors on the palate include cherry cough drop, brown sugar and more spice. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a bit thinner then I was expecting. However, the beer also has a long, smooth finish, and a soft, plush mouthfeel. Alcohol is pretty well disguised, but the excessive sweetness hurts this beer's drinkability just a bit. That's really the only detraction I can think of with this beer, and I'm wondering if it might benefit from some short term aging (not that I'll ever know, given how scarce it is).

This is a solid beer, but I just felt as if something was missing. Maybe if the carbonation or hop bill was ramped up a bit, it would improve this beer. In any event, this is still a very good beer, and one I am very grateful to have tried.

 1,375 characters

Photo of sprucetip
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes, into Midnight Sun goblet. pours clear magogany with ruby highlights, nice layer of yeasties in the bottle, huge light tan head with very good retention, thick lacing, very active. SMELL raisins and other dark fruit, lightly spicy, boozy, rich malty. Not super storng, but very pleasant and complex. TASTE Smooth, balanced and rich with dark fruity and sweet malty notes backed by barley perceptible hop bitterness. Belgian yeast character subdued. Flavors dance around and compliment each other. FEEL full bodied, rich luxurious texture, slight warming, clean finish. OVERALL Tasty and easy drinking. Well done.

 623 characters

Photo of randawakes
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Abbey, tastes like a tripel. Full raisin flavor that reminds me of Dogfish Head raisin brews D'extra, Detra.

Pours a short head, darker abbey, consistent low carbonation, maple sweetness. The maple does bring out some faint wood or tree feel. Try this sucker.

 261 characters

Photo of illidurit
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark amber color with a thin filmy beige head. Aroma is straight-up raisins with a boozy sharpness. Brown sugar flavor with a more subdued raisin note. Slight spiciness, ginger, must be the grains of paradise. Full bodied and a little boozy. Not sure what they're going after here, besides the fact that an 8% abbey ale is not "imperial" at all. They ramped up the sweetness, in contradiction to my ideal Belgian beer. Unfocused but ultimately pretty tasty in sample size.

 480 characters

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

Poured a dark amber brown with maroon highlights that had a hlaf finger of head and left good bubbly lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma was sweet consisting of the belgian yeast and maltiness but it did have slight spice with dark fruit notes. The taste was also dominated by the sweetnes from the belgian yeast and malt but was more sweeter than expecte. It did however have some sugary character and dark fruity accents. The brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, slight fruity, sticky finish. It drank decent and was glad to have a crack at this beer. Good lookin out torino.

 632 characters

Photo of gford217
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle courtesy of savnac poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep, clear copper with a big creamy beige head that leaves very good lacing on its way down to a solid cap fed by tons of bubbles from the bottom.

The aroma is fairly subdued to start with a deep caramel malt sweetness that supports the other aromas. There is also plenty of spiciness in the nose from yeast and, presumably, the grains of paradise. Dark fruits start to come through as it warms, especially raisins.

The taste is a bigger version of the aroma. It's got tons of caramel malts in the backbone with lots of spiciness to balance the sweetness, especially in the finish. The fruit is present in the middle, a sweet booze-soaked raisin and plum taste. Plenty of yeast and some fruity esters round things out.

The mouthfeel is typical MSBC with strong carbonation and on the fuller side of medium in the body.

This is not one of my favorites from MSBC, but it's still a great Belgian beer and I really like what they did with the spices which balance the dark fruitiness very well. Very tasty.

 1,070 characters

Photo of CoolJosh
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very generously poured by none other than the infamous Treyrab. A 22oz bottle split into two tulip glasses. Midnight Sun has been one of the most consistent breweries in our tastings, so there is little doubt that this one will disappoint.

The appearance is nice, with a ruddy brown hazy body and an incredibly creamy light yellow head that lasts the duration of the glass. Well presented.

The smell is just as nice as the look. Very pungent fresh citrus notes matched with a nice toasted pecan scent. Spices dance up my nose to the tune of brown sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of coriander. Roasted caramel lies in the background, while raisin is nowhere to be seen, which comes as a shock after reading the description on the label countless times over.

The taste is magnificently complex. Everything in the nose is easily recognized and more pronounced. The spices are really kicked up big time as cinnamon lingers in my mouth well after each sip. The toasted scents I picked up in the smell shine through in the taste in a manner that fits. The lack of raisins work well to mask the majority of the present alcoholic taste, but just a little bit of heat seeps through the cracks. The yeast is really what does this beer justice, and is perfectly implemented to bring out all the spiciness that lies within this beer.

The mouthfeel is well done but doesn't fit the style, as it lacks carbonation. The creaminess still plays well with the taste components. This is one of those beers that was really good, but it needs to be a while before I'm ready to crack another.

 1,570 characters

Photo of ccrida
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into my tall MSBC glass, Desent is auburn with an off-white head that leaves nice lace.

Smell is nice and rich, big fruity esters. As it warmed, the raisins really opened up. High end and authentic, once again MSBC macks an indigenous style as good or better then the originator!

Taste is also estery, with a strong malt backbone, but smooth. I really like the integration of the adjuncts (raisins and grains of paradise), full flavored but smooth. If I wasn't starting to feel like such a MSBC fan-boy, I'd give this a 5 - these guys are really killing it!
Mouthfeel is smooth, a bit dry, medium bodied.

Drinkability is pretty high, this is an awesome Abbey. Big flavor, complexity, but still highly drinkable. I should stop being surprised!

 761 characters

Photo of brewandbbq
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from the cellar.

Pours dark ruby with a half inch head of coarse, biege bubbles. A finely thin skim coat remained on the surface for the duration with broken rings of lacing throughout the glass.

Aromatics lead off with sweet malt, caramel, cocoa, raisins, and cloves.
A nougat-like yeastiness gives a nod to perhaps a Chimay strain, with dark rum and plums following through.

On the fuller side of medium bodied with a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. A slightly crisp edge keeps things lively.

Rich, lush malts, ripe figs, and cocoa-dusted caramel lead off the palate. Plump raisins soaked in dark rum step forward along with more doughy malt and dark fruit.

Finishes with plump malt, warming alcohol, sweet raisins, and a hint of pepper-dusted cloves.

Nice beer. Still sweeter than I prefer, but fitting for the style and the raisins are not overdone. This would be one from the Brew Crew series that would be good to cellar.

 939 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at Redlight Redlight; January 2011
This pours with a big, frothy head and a pale tan colored head. The beer is a red-amber color. The nose seems to almost have a meaty quality to it in some ways (perhaps more a savory / umami like character and I wonder if this has been influenced by some touches of oxidation). There is a definite fruitiness (leaning towards plum) here as well as a toasted malt character, along with notes of cinnamon and caramelized apple. This definitely has an interesting, fairly complex nose to it.

This beer has a lighter body to it than I was expecting, which is certainly nice. It has a spicy character to it that reminds me of clove and cinnamon and this is nicely complimented by a brown sugar and caramelized malt character. The beer is sweet, but not quite as much as I had expected; despite this, the beer still seem a touch lighter than I would have guessed, at least given how rich this beer seems. Flavors of caramelized plum are joined by a touch of oxidation, perhaps, that contributes some nutty flavors as well as a hints of port and sherry. This is definitely a nice beer, and the touch of age in it seems to have boosted the complexity in both the nose and in the flavor.

 1,222 characters

Photo of mothman
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 Brewcrew

Pours a finger of beige head. Color is a dark copper with a bright ruby hue.

Aroma: The raisins really show a lot. Really malty. Bready, toffee, and caramel. Red apple flavors and apple skins. Very sweet.

Taste: Much like the nose. It mimics the nose. Dried apple skin, plums, raisins, and then a lot of malts. Bready, caramel, and toffee flavors.

Mouthfeel: Rich and smooth. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry.

Overall, really solid beer. Drinkable. A lot of solid flavors. I'd definitely have more of this.

 562 characters

Photo of treyrab
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to the Alaskan folk for sending this one way down south. Split with JoshCool tonight into two tulips...

A: Pours a clear crimson burgundy with a large eggshell yellow head. Very, very large and creamy head. Poured ten minutes ago and the head is just as robust, creamy and sticky as when I poured it. Great looking beer.

S: A lot going on here. Nice peppery scents from the Grains of Paradise, nice sweet, and simultaneously dry, raisins, coupled with some darker, almost roasty malts, dark candi sugar, and Belgian yeast funk.

T: Midnight Sun never ceases to amaze me. Huge bang of flavors here. Not smooth flavor-wise, but tons and tons of flavors packed in to this tiny glass. Tons of sweet, raisiny goodness with tons of spice and Belgian characteristics; abundant with sweet Belgian candi sugar.

M: Lower carbonation than I usually expect for an Abbey Ale, however, the head and beer are so damn creamy, that it is not affected by this deviation.

D: The alcohol is coming through a tad, but is by no means distracting. I could have 2. Maybe 6 in a sitting.

 1,086 characters

Photo of DucksFan16
5/5  rDev +26.6%

Photo of t0rin0
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours out a clear, garnet-hued body with a head comprised of a lasting layer of off-white foam.

Smell: Sweetish, fruity aroma studded with notes of oven-toasted bread, piquant spices, cooked sugars, fresh-ground cinnamon, dried fruits, and some nose-tingling alcohol.

Taste: Descent begins malty and fairly sweet on the tongue with tastes of golden syrup-coated bread crusts and brown sugar. Fruity flavors of golden raisins and red currants. The generously added Grains of Paradise along with the Belgian yeast yield some spicy peppery tones, but I'm also picked up some licorice powder and a rather strong, robust cinnamon character. Very mild hop bitterness. Plenty of long-lasting residual sweetness in this one, even all the way to the warming, earthy, spicy finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-high carbonation.

Drinkability: Worth a try. The enduring sweetness hampers the long-term drinkability, but the carbonation thankfully keeps things moving and prevents it from becoming too cloying.

 1,021 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a hazy mahogany with some light tan head. It smelled like raisin and fig and honey wheat, with some creamy yeast and roasted barley. It tasted like raisin and honey, with some toffee and creamy yeast, followed by rusty copper. It was slightly thick with some smooth carbonation, and had a bitter and sour aftertaste. Overall this had a great smell and taste, although the aftertaste had a strange metallic sense that didn't fit the style. It had nice body and good complexity, and it hid the alcohol fairly well, so it was pretty easy to drink. Very nice fresh, and would probably become even better with some age. Definitely recommended.

 650 characters

Descent - Imperial Abbey Ale from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.95 out of 5 with 23 ratings
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