We started with the lightest of the beers, which, though not transparent, certainly came close to its name, pouring a light banana color with a thin, pale foam head. The scent was intriguing; sweet and tangy apple notes evoking non-alcoholic, sparkling cider preceded hints of corn. The taste mirrored the smell, offering the same sweet corn and apple shades that dominated the nose. This beer presented its flavors and scents freely, hitting the palate immediately and remaining consistent from the top of the glass to the bottom.
This is the first of the two beers brewed in the style of Belgian abbeys, which Li-Guo holds as the gold standard of beer. His dry-hopped homage began with a browner, cloudier appearance than the White Beer, which reminded our tasters of filtered cider, though with a larger white head. The nose, too, contained apple notes similar to those present in the White, with elusive aromas of almond and breadmakers' yeast present as well. Though the scent rounded out nicely at that point, the taste was a wild ride—Abbey 6 opened strong with a commanding sweetness, then revealed acidic, chalky undertones.
8% ABVThough they share a descriptor, the Abbey 8 and its 6% ABV cousin are astonishingly different. Visually, the 8 was closer to a cola than anything else, with an opaque, chocolate hue, topped by a heavy tan head. Strangely enough, the scent matched the visuals, delivering a sweet, syrupy smell that contained aspects of caramel and sarsaparilla. Following that predictable start, however, Abbey 8 turned out to be North Taiwan Brewing's most nuanced beer, according to our tasters. Intriguing flavors complemented, rather than mirrored, its scents, and a distinctive tang played across the back of the mouth and throat. All the while, a subtle, complicated sweetness dominated the front, rounding out the flavor profile. Overall, this ale reminded our imbibers of a dark saison and emerged as the clear favorite of the tasting.