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06-01-05

Beer Review #293 Hoppy Bock Lager

06-01-03I’m always on the prowl for an affordable new beer when I go to the beer store. New Belgium Brewing Company anyways has something new from their Lips of Faith series, but they generally are not affordable. A month or so ago I discovered Hoppy Bock Lager, which was affordable and came in a 22oz bottle. A hoppy lager sounded a little gimmicky to me, but what the hell, a solid affordable beer is always worth seeking out.

Hoppy Bock Lager pours a clear golden color and has a thin white head. It really looks like a pilsner or the like and not like something that is going to be super hop forward. This guy also comes in at 6.9% ABV which is a few ticks higher than what  I was expecting. The nose had a slight malt/bread component that is typical of a bock. For a beer that has hoppy in the name, I wasn’t overly impressed with the nose. There are some citrus notes, but why you say hoppy, I want hoppy.

There is a decent malt presence on the first sip of this beer. The bread really comes out, and as we all know, I love a bready beer. The hops come in halfway through but they don’t jump out. The hops are there but they aren’t crazy. I would describe the hop flavor as floral, but not bright. Hoppy Bock Lager also had a grassy flavor going through it that I didn’t particularly care for.

This beer just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t find the hops bright or excited. They were a bit too toned down for a beer that says it is hoppy, and according to the label, comes from New Belgium’s Hop Kitchen. This beer didn’t stand out and while a drinkable beer, is not repeat worthy for me. The quest continues. (more…)

Beer Review #266 Lips of Faith Tart Lychee

01-30-03I received this bottle as a Christmas present from my father-in-law. He has the outstanding quality of finding something that I have been secretly wanting to try. Tart Lychee is brewed by New Belgium Brewing Company. The screen printed bottle says that it is”56% ale aged in oak and 44% ale brewed with lychee and cinnamon.” This beer comes in at 7.5% and is part of their Lips of Faith Series of beers. I’ve had a number of beers from this series and my favorite has been Kick. I’m generally not a fan of cinnamon with pumpkin beers being the exception. Something about things flavored with cinnamon just doesn’t agree with me.

Tart Lychee pours a pale golden color. There is a slight haze at first that turns into a full haze by the end as the dregs of the bottle come into play. It pours with a thick white head that lasts for a long period of time.The nose is decidedly sour, not a bug shocker considering the beer has the work tart in its title. There is a nice little twinge in the nose as well. I can’t describe it fully, but it starts as a light malt that rapidly evolves into increasing sourness. It is a different version of sour than I got on the first whiff.

One thing I noticed when I opened the bottle is how loud the “pssssh” was when I cracked the cap. I’m sure the high carbonation that the sound is indicative of is the reason behind the large, lasting head. Before I tasted anything on this beer, the carbonation went crazy in my mouth. It almost has a champagne feel to it. Once I got over the carbonation I found a pleasant sweetness that was quickly followed by a good tart flavor. There is a very slight spice in there, but it didn’t contribute to the flavor in any big way. This beer not only feels like champagne, it tastes like it. And it’s the good stuff.

I really dig this beer. It’s wonderfully sour and properly balanced. The carbonation helps dry the beer out to an acceptable level. I had to reread the label a few times after trying this one as I couldn’t believe that it was 7.5%. This is one sneaky, delicious beer. Sour beers have really been growing on me and this is a good one. (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 #143 New Belgium Lips of Faith Kick

I have reviewed a number of New Belgium Brewing Company beers in the past, but that was when I lived in Texas and had access to their brews. Since I moved back east, I haven’t been able to purchase any of their beers as they do not distribute to the four states I have access to (PA, DE, NJ, and MD). This month marks a change in my ability to get New Belgium beer as New Belgium is now distributing to Maryland. New Belgium Brewing Company is one of the largest craft breweries around and they really have a focus on green everything. They currently have their brewery located in Fort Collins, CO. There are some rumors that they will be opening a new, second brewery on the east coast in order to reduce shipping and the like. Asheville, NC seems to be the area they are targeting.

They are offering a few of their normal beers in 22 oz bottles for awhile while they test out the new market, but they also decided to ship three of their beers from their “Lips of Faith” series of beers. Today’s review, Kick, happens to be one of them. Kick comes in at 8.5% ABV and the bottle says that it is, “75% ale brewed with pumpkin and cranberry juice” and “25% ale aged in wooden barrels.” I’m not sure if I ever had a beer with cranberry juice in it before. Sweet.

Kick pours a flat orange with a slight haze and a white head. The nose is very sour, thanks to the cranberry juice I’m sure. There is some sweetness but the sourness really cuts it out of there. On my first taste I didn’t get any pumpkin in the flavor profile. There are lots of sour notes but not much pumpkin. There are some slight spices as the beer warms, but they really sit on the back-end of the beer after the sourness drops off of the tongue.

I really liked this beer. I have been on a sour beer kick for awhile and this one just helps add to my new love of the style. If you have New Belgium beer available in your area I suggest you try this one out. (more…)