In a craft beer market where strong hop-forward IPAs and imperial stouts are everywhere, it is easy to forget that in the U.S. there are some excellent Belgian style and Trappist-inspired beers to be had. While I’m not shy about being a fan of almost every one of the Smuttynose “Big Beer” series, I honestly forgot about Gravitation and haven’t had it in quite some time.
Smuttynose Gravitation is a Belgian quadrupel or “quad” for short. Quads are typically high in alcohol, and the Gravitation has 11.3% ABV this year. All of the “Big Beer” series come in the large bottles, so it’s a good one to split with a friend.
When I poured it out, I was pleased to see that it had a dark copper color, with a little yeast cloudiness to it. The aroma is fantastic. There is a sugary and alcohol overtone, but there is also a pineapple or even a pear type aroma that grows as it warms. It reminds me of smelling a glazed fruit tart of some kind, maybe one made with some rum. Don’t serve this cold or you will really miss a lot of what makes this beer interesting – it’s amazing nose.
The taste is fruity and sweet, but strongly favored and you can definitely pick up the yeastiness in the middle of each sip. There is a bit of warmness coming through from the alcohol as well, but the yeast and fruity notes unfurl around it, mellowing each sip just a little bit. There is nothing subtle about this beer, and I found myself wishing I had some great bleu cheese on hand to attempt to stand up to it.
As for other pairings, Smuttynose suggests:
“Earthy foods like wild game and blue cheeses stand up to Gravitiaton’s intensity by playing against the sweet malty character. If earthy isn’t your thing, seek out dishes that are fatty, tart or a combination of the two; foods like pork belly, mushroom ragout or rabbit with kriek, a classic dish of Belgian beer gastronomy”
…And now I’m hungry…
Reflecting on this beer, I can’t say I’m surprised by it because that would imply that the beers that Smuttynose usually puts out are somehow inferior. What I can say is that it confirms, at least in my mind, that you can have a little bit of Europe, right here. Close your eyes and you are not in New England, but in Europe, at a tiny little pub, drinking and dreaming looking out of the window to the busy street below.