Almost a year ago I reviewed New Belgium Brewing Company’s2 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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
I “like” New Belgium Brewing on Facebook. Today I was browsing my wall and saw a picture that they posted today of some new (enormous) tanks that they are installing. I’m a weirdo and I like to read the comments to try and get a pulse of what people are thinking. New Belgium beer is not distributed in PA or most of the east coast so there is a strong desire by those who have had it before to get it shipped where they cannot get it now.
I ran across the post below. The names and faces have been blacked out to protect the innocent.
I don’t get it. What’s the problem with a microbrewery getting big? Is it the fear that they will become what we have come to hate? Is it a fear that what was once special, is not so anymore? I would argue that the bigger a microbrewery gets the better for everyone. The have greater power on the distributes (stupid three tier system) and bring craft brewing closer to the general public.
Isn’t the goal of any business to grow? I think we have become so used to finding these little breweries and claiming that we found them, they are special, they are ours. In New Belgium’s case, Fat Tire used to be something that was a rare gem. Something special. In the places that New Belgium distributes, I would say that Fat Tire is a standard beer. Very good, but not the “something special” that it used to be. As our tastes evolve and new styles are brewed, the beers that founded the breweries we love don’t hold the water they used to. Admit it, if you saw someone holding a Fat Tire or a BrewDog End of the World, which beer would you get more excited about? My example is a bit exaggerated, but it does hold water.
I think most craft beer drinkers are looking to find solid beer, but also something new and different. Does getting big take away from the specialness that we hold so dear?
Summer may have started on Monday, but today I have a spring beer to review. I said in my last post that I had a backlog of beer reviews, I figured that I should get my last spring beer out of the pipeline before I start moving forward with the other reviews. Might Arrow comes from New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. The beer is actually named for a dog that “ran the brewery” for 12 years. The brewers that the following to say about their beloved Arrow.
This is our brewed tribute to Arrow, Kim’s Aussie/Border Collie mix who ran (literally) New Belgium for 12 years. When she wasn’t patrolling the brewery grounds, she was famous for her office visits: She never met a tummy rub she didn’t like. Atta girl Arrow.
Might Arrow pours a nice bright orange color and it is perfectly clear. A wonderful fluffy white head compliments this beer. The nose is full of bright hops with some hints of grapefruit in there. You can absolutely notice the cascade hops that are used in the beer. Other than the hops there isn’t much to the nose. The typical earthy New Belgium yeast that you can smell on most of their beers, is not present on this ale.
After tasting the beer is as hoppy as the nose promises. It is not as highly hopped as an IPA but on the hoppier side of a pale ale. The earthiness that I didn’t pickup in the nose is there on the taste. You can almost always tell a New Belgium beer from another brewery’s because of their yeast. Holds true on this beer. There is a nice balance in the beer as well. It is still on the hoppier side, but is nicely in balance.
This beer is super drinkable. I absolutely loved it. I wish this was a year-round production. This is an mind-blowing beer, it is just very solid and a joy to drink. It comes in at 6% ABV is it is sessionable as well. Sorry that this review came out after this beer is out of it’s production schedule but if you find it grab as much as you can of it. You will not be disappointed. Continue reading →
Yet another New Belgium seasonal beer. I can’t help it, I generally like everything that comes out of that brewery. I was also super excited to find a seasonal brew in Lubbock, Tx. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you should know my struggles with finding seasonal beer in Lubbock. And for those of you who are new, Lubbock, simply put, is a hole. There is a complete lack of beer culture, but oddly enough they enjoy expensive wine. Go figure.
Anyway, I grabbed up a sixer of 2 Below as soon as I saw it. As most New Belgium Brewing Company beers have, the label was interesting looking. A nice picture of some freezing pipes with icicles coming down off of the top. Now onto the important part, the beer. It pours a light amber in color with a nice white head. The aroma is nice and strong with tons of floral hops. There isn’t much else to be found on the smell, mostly just hops and maybe some malt if you are really looking hard.
The taste is an explosion of hops, in a good way. The malt and the hops are balanced perfectly. The hops are clean and crisp. On the back-end of the beer there is a slightly bready flavor. You can also expect to finds hints of pepper and other spice in there as well. Unlike some hoppy beers, the hops goes through the entire beer and not just at the back.
2 Below has a light to medium mouthfeel with great carbonation. It is very drinkable but I kind of wanted something darker and richer tasting for a winter beer. The beer comes in at 6.6% ABV so it is not a “weak” beer but I want some more alcohol in my winter beer. The whole warming idea of a winter beer doesn’t really happen at 6.6%. It really is a great beer and I would highly suggest it if you have the chance. Again it is not my favorite winter beer, but it is a solid beer for anytime of the year. Continue reading →