I 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. Continue reading
It has been over six months since I last had a beer from New Belgium Brewing Company. For the most part, they haven’t had a lot of new beer in my neck of the woods. Sure they have the occasional Lips of Faith beers, but they are super expensive compared to other similar styles so I usually don’t pick them up. Although I will pick up as many bottles of Kick as I can find if I see it around, no matter the price. Somersault was a beer that I wasn’t planning on getting but I need something to complete my mix and match six pack.
Somersault is a golden ale style beer that comes in at 5.2% ABV. It pours a clear golden color with just a hint of orange. The head is thin and white and fades away pretty quickly. The nose is pretty bready with a hint of fruitiness. There really wasn’t much going on in the nose, but what I did get I enjoyed.
On my first taste I was surprised to find how light the malt tasted while still being sweet. Usually a really light malt character results in a malt lacking in actual flavor, but this one was sweet. There was a slight fruit flavor which could have come from the yeast or possibly the hops. To keep on the mindset of hops, this beer has none. I didn’t get any real bitterness or traditional hop flavor out of this one. I don’t know if I had an old bottle or if it just didn’t ever exist.
This beer isn’t bad but it is nothing to write home about. It is neutral enough for new craft beer drinkers to enjoy but it will leave most craft beer drinkers wanting. On a hot day this beer would probably be nice, but I don’t think I’ll be grabbing this one to complete a six pack again. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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.
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. Continue reading