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Beer Review #197 Dig Pale Ale

I know that I said that I wanted to move away from purchasing seasonal beers, but I had no idea that today’s beer was the new spring seasonal of New Belgium Brewing Company. New Belgium seems to be putting out a lot of new seasonal beers now instead of sticking with returning classics. I suppose a lot of breweries do this and keep a seasonal in a rotation of a few years before another beer comes along to fill it’s spot. I have nothing against seasonal beers and I know that they are big sellers for the craft beer market, but I really want to focus on beers that are accessible year-round.

Dig Pale Ale comes in at 5.6% ABV and uses five different types of hops to achieve New Belgium’s desired bitterness profile. Two of the hops used (Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace) I have never even heard of. This ale pours a light copper color and has a decent white head. The nose has a slight citrus and lemon hop odor. The classic New Belgium “earthy” smell is there as well along with a slight malt toastyness. I was expecting there to be a bit more in the way of complexity, but this beer’s nose is pretty flat.

On my first taste I was surprised by the amount of malt and body to this beer. There is some really good sweetness that kicks in right from the get go and carries through the whole drink. A very balanced citrus hop comes in about halfway through the beer and really cleans up the sweetness. There are some hits of tropical fruits in the hops, but they are only there for an instant before the cascade hops wash them out.

This is a nicely balanced pale ale that is darn drinkable. I wouldn’t consider it outstanding or anything to write home about, but this one is a solid pale ale that should stay in rotation for another year or so. (more…)

Beer Review #164 Lips of Faith Clutch

In addition to Kick and Super Cru my local beer store had one other Lips of Faith series beer, Clutch. The label proclaimed a “dark sour ale.” Maybe, finally, had I found a sour ale that took me back to Belgium? With a name like New Belgium Brewing Company I sure hoped so. Like the other Lips of Faith beers that I tasted, Clutch is pretty high in the ABV department, racking up an impressive 9%.

Clutch stuck to its promises in terms of appearance, pours a deep, dark brown with a coating of a tan head. The nose has some sour odors, but it was mainly consumed by lots of roasty flavors. I found a good helping of chocolate and coffee in the nose.

On my first taste I picked up the roasty notes from the smell. The chocolate and coffee were present, but I would describe the main flavor components as “super roasty.” I got some slight sour notes at the end, but nothing like what I was hoping for. This beer could have very well been to style as I have never had an “official” dark sour ale before. Overall I would really give this beer a stout-like quality.

Even though this beer wasn’t was sour as I was hoping for doesn’t mean that it was bad. I found it wonderfully full of  flavor and complexity. It was rich in flavor but also nicely balanced. This beer would be enjoyable to a large amount of craft beer drinkers as I think it appeals to an number of different sub-sets of the community.

Beer Review #164 Lips of Faith Super Cru

I decided to take a brief Thanksgiving hiatus, hence the lack of updates recently. I bought a bunch of New Belgium beers as soon as they started distributing in Maryland, and lucky for me, they decided to distribute some of their Lips of Faith Series beers as well. I reviewed Kick some time ago and during the holiday I finally had a chance to enjoy some of the other beers for New Belgium that I picked up.

Each of the Lips of Faith beers comes in 22 oz bottles and I have only been able to find three of them here on the east coast thus far. I know that they recently released a Sasion and an IPA, but they have yet to make it out here. As a side note, I love the term “Lips of Faith.” I has a bit of a cult feel, but also really screams beer nerd.

After my trip to Europe I returned home with a taste for sour beers. I had plenty of Rodenbach Grand Cru, which I assumed this beer was inspired after. You know that saying about assume? Well, yeah, I did it with this beer. This ale pours a nice burnt orange color with an off-white head. There is a slight haze to the liquid, but I’m a homebrewer so that doesn’t mean a thing to me.

The nose has a bit of malt along with a bit of heat. This beer comes in at 10% so heat is to be expected. I got some sour notes, but nothing like which I was expecting. On the bottle the screen printed label says “ale bred with Asian pear juice.” I honestly don’t know what an Asian pear smells or tastes like, but I (and my wife who knows what it tastes and smells like) didn’t get any pear. There was a slight Belgian spice kick, but nothing large enough to go on about.

On my first taste I got a bit of odd malt. The taste was grainy and had a strange bite at the end of it. My wife informed me that this was “pear mixed with beer.” I did notice some pear flavors of the traditional pear that I am used to. I also found this one to be a bit boozy. This is a beer that gets better as it warms up. There is an interesting balance of flavors but overall I think it works. Again I have no idea what Asian pear tastes or smells like and if you do, this beer could be greatly enhanced or ruined depending on your expectations. (more…)

Beer Review #162 Snow Day Winter Ale

Almost a year ago I reviewed New Belgium Brewing Company’s 2 Below Ale. I remember liking it but I didn’t think it fit the winter beer idea very well. I was excited to hear that they had a new winter ale this year that was on the “darker and richer” side of the flavor spectrum.The story of this beer comes from a snowstorm a few years ago that shut down Fort Colins, Colorado for several days. And really, who doesn’t love a snowday? I think I appreciate them more now as an adult than I did when I was a kid.

On my first pour of the glass I got a beer that looked exactly like what I had imagined. It was a deep dark brown with a slightly off-white head. I  have no idea if it was clear or not because of the darkness. The nose was pretty hoppy, considering I was expecting on the richer end. I really didn’t get a lot of malt but rather lots of grapefruit hops.

The taste was a mix of rich malt and cutting hops. I found the malt to have a good amount of caramel that also featured some tones of chocolate. Most of the sweetness was then cut by the hops. The hops gave a crisp and spicy feel to the beer that I rather enjoyed.

This beer was a nice balance of malt and hops. I would of liked for it to be a bit more malt forward, but what can you do. This is more in line what I was thinking for a winter beer than their previous winter seasonal. I know there were some who were big fans of 2 Below, but New Belgium offers a number of beers that are pretty close to 2 Below, so it isn’t really necessary. This beer isn’t on the “go out and buy now” list for me, but I would pick it up again if I was out and saw it. (more…)