By Julia Burke, Beer Editor
Brooklyn Main Engine Start is the first beer out of the gate of Brooklyn's spanking new brewhouse, and it's a cool lesser-known Belgian style: the Abbey "singel," which is the lightest of the Trappist styles. Traditionally drunk at lunchtime (but then, so am I), singels are a simpler, lower-alcohol alternative to the better-known and more wallop-packing dubbels and tripels.
This particular one is only 6% ABV, which is apple juice for most of today's DIPA and quad lovers.
Main Engine Start pours a surprisingly clear (according to the brewery it's unfiltered) toasted straw gold color with an unassuming one-finger head but solid lacing.
The nose is an appropriate and textbook mix of Belgian yeast esters, spice and florals, with banana and coriander dominating and a biscuity undertone (my favorite local bistro occasionally offers a dessert with a coriander biscuit–I thought of it immediately).
Nothing earth-shattering, nothing out of place, and the lack of booze with such unmistakeable Belgian character is surprising at first.
Initial sips seem almost too delicate on the mid-palate for the light-as-a-feather, bone-dry hop finish, but that's the style. Soon I found myself loving the crisp leanness of the beer, especially with my breakfast of smoked salmon on crackers with cream cheese and fresh dill.
The finish is as dry as a Brit's sense of humor and really enjoyable thanks to Slovenian Aurora hops; it's got just enough attitude to remind you once again that this is a Belgian, not a German. This brew is quite quaffable on its own but really comes to life with food; with a cheese platter, goat cheese salad or other picnic-y fare, it's the perfect solution to a desire for vibrant flavor without high strength. A good chance to try this relatively rare style.
Producer: Brooklyn Brewery
Style: Abbey singel
Sample Size: 10 oz.
Stemware: 10 oz. flute
Price: $11 growler