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Getting big

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?

Beer Review #61 Mighty Arrow

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. (more…)

Beer Review #40 2 Below Ale

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. (more…)

Beer Review #35 Hoptober

Last month I reviewed New Belgium Brewing Company’s Skinny Dip. I was a tad late on the review of their summer offering, but I am right on time for their fall beer, Hoptober. Hoptober is classified as a Golden Ale and was quite the steal at $7.49 a six pack. Don’t you just love sales. I happen to love New Belgium’s beer labels becasue they are always a bit new age, and odd. This one is no exception with outlines of people dancing around a fire. How does that relate to fall or hops, who knows? But it looks neat.

11-15-02

11-15-03Anyway the beer pours a brilliant golden color as you expect from a beer labeled Golden Ale. It is perfectly clean and has a think white head, with tiny bubbles. The head sticks to the top of the beer throughout the entire drink. On the nose, floral hops dominate. There is also a nice helping of sweet malt, and some almost, honey notes. There is a bit of pine smell in there as well. Generally I don’t like the piney hops, but this is in smell only.

The taste of the beer is mainly hops, hops, hops. Not that it is an overwhelming hop flavor like some IPAs, but rather a nice punch of them that compliments the malt very nicely. The malt has a strong enough backbone to support the hops and you can still get that sweetness from it. There is also a slight biscuit taste at the end of the beer. It finishes very nicely and crisply. There is a bit of an earthy flavor that can be found in the beer as well. I have found that to be pretty common with New Belgium’s beers as well.

11-15-04On the drinkability scale this one comes in pretty darn good. It is not nearly as hoppy as the name suggests that it would be, but there is a good punch of it. The hops are very bright and fresh tasting. This beer might not be for the new craft beer drinker or someone who does not like anything other than the American light lager, but most craft beer people will find this pleasing.

For a fall beer I was hoping for something a bit darker, with some richer notes. Hoptober comes in at 6% ABV in case you were wondering. It has a great aftertaste and just reeks of freshness (as should all seasonal beers). I really enjoyed it, but I have had beer fall beers before. If you like fresh hops and a good malt character, you will totally love this beer. Again it is not as hoppy as the name suggests, but it is super drinkable and enjoyable. My wife, who hates hoppy beers, even enjoyed this seasonal from New Belgium. (more…)

10-18-02

New Belgium Brewing Company Skinny Dip Beer Review

10-18-02Skinny Dip is New Belgium Brewing Company’s summer beer. So why am I posting about it in the fall and not posting about Hotober? Well I have a bit of a backlog of reviews to get up and I just bought some Hoptober, their fall beer, so I realized that I needed to get moving on the beer reviews. Skinny Dip is classified as an American Blonde Ale and fits pretty true to form for the style.

It pours a dark golden color with a large, fluffy white head. The beer is perfectly clear as one would expect it to be. The nose is distinctly cascade hops with a little malt sweetness. There is an earthy smell to it as well, which I think is pretty common with New Belgium’s brews. There is also a bit of bread or cracker buried in the smell as well.

10-18-03The taste is nice and sweet, but there isn’t a whole lot going on. The hops from the nose are not very strong on the pallet and there is just a bit of spice on the back. Some of that bread smell is carried over to the taste, but not a lot. Skinny Dip is pretty light on the mouthfeel. The beer comes in light, fills the middle of your pallet, and then leaves off as light as it began. It is a solid summer beer, and here in Texas where it is still 75 in October, it was decent.

I bet this is much more refreshing on a hot day. Back when I first got this beer it was very refreshing. Today on the patio it was not quite up to snuff. It is light and easy to drink, surely a summer beer. I enjoyed the aftertaste it left in my mouth and it also had great lacing if that matters to you. It is worth a try on a hot day or if you enjoy lighter beers. (more…)