Brew Review: New Belgium Beers
Superior Beverage announced last month that they would be the exclusive distributor for New Belgium beers in Ohio beginning December 16th. New Belgium is the Colorado-based brewery famous for their Fat Tire Ale, among others. We tried four of their offerings and here’s what we thought about them:
The Ranger IPA is a 6.5% ABV offering that epitomizes what an India Pale Ale should be: it’s citrusy, very hoppy, and has a true and palate-pleasing bitter finish that IPA lovers won’t be able to resist. This beer immediately made me want to order Fish & Chips, or a really juicy Classic Hamburger, just so I can taste the nuances of its complexity in a variety of ways. The Ranger also finishes quite nicely, the bitterness not overwhelming at the end, which can sometimes lead to a sort of sour finish in the mouth. This is the beer you have when you’re planning to watch multiple bowl games, or when you have to spend the day with your entire family. The decent ABV ensures you won’t drink too fast, even when the flavor makes you want more and more. The Ranger would also make an ideal gift for the right boss: it says you’re tasteful, knowledgeable, and cool.
Fat Tire Amber Ale
Fat Tire Ale, arguably, put New Belgium Brewing on the map. It’s what I call an every-beer: light and crisp, not too hoppy, not too brash, the kind of ale that basically any beer lover would drink because it’s meant to please. It goes with everything, perfectly complementing Double-Chop Pork Chops as it would a Salad Nicoise. This can either be a good thing, or a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that you’ll never be disappointed when you order it, as it’s as unoffensive, flavor-wise, as any brew can be. But that also means that if you like punch, and a little pizzazz in your grog, this wouldn’t be your favorite. I personally fall into the latter category, but this isn’t to say that I won’t be having a Fat Tire sometime soon. At 5.2% ABV, it’s still a rock star, and what I would take to a friend’s holiday gathering or buy for a 21-year old who’s wants to drink better than swill, but hasn’t yet developed the palate for more complex brews.
Accumulation White IPA
For those who like an IPA, not love an IPA, here’s one you might actually come to adore. Brewed against the tradition of dark beers for the dark months of winter, the Accumulation White IPA surprises in other ways as well: it’s mellow for an IPA, not over-the-top in its bitter hoppiness, and only mildly citrusy, which makes for a smooth brew ideal for sipping. There are also some floral notes that can be detected in this 6.2% ABV ale, an excellent offset to the acerbic finish. This is a beer that’s equally as comfortable supporting a Loaded Hot Dog as it is backing up a plate of Steamed Mussels, the kind you pour in a glass rather than drink out the bottle so you can appreciate its head and aroma as much as anything else. Drinking this beer made me look forward to Spring, a not altogether bad way to pass away the winter gloom.
Trippel Belgian Style Ale
The Trippel, which proudly boasts on its label that it’s brewed with one of my most beloved spices, coriander, has quickly become one of my favorite beers. It’s everything a traditional tripel should be – the flavor is big and the profile complex – but what sets this beer apart from the others is the remarkable lightness and crispness it maintains all the way through. After the initial sip, I dare you not to say, “aah”, or your equivalent expression of pure refreshment. There’s only a slight bitterness on the finish, which is perfectly tempered by the modest sweetness of the malts. I paired this concoction with a big bowl of Beef Stew, and it not only brought out some hidden nuances in the dish (coriander notoriously makes other spices taste more vibrant), but broke up the dense richness of the stew so I could enjoy more of it. At 7.8% ABV, on paper this should be man’s beer, but the sharpness of the flavor and smoothness of the body makes the Trippel a great choice for guys and gals alike who appreciate good grog.
New Belgium Brewery is an employee-owned operation that’s been in business for 22 years, but they still feel like there’s so much more to discover about beers and the brewing process. See what else these guys come up with by following them at www.facebook.com/newbelgium.
Photos by Ayana Wilson.