New Belgium

NEW BELGIUM BREWING COMPANY

New Belgium Brewing was created in Fort Collins, CO by Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan in 1991.  The inspiration for this company came when Jeff was bike riding in Belgium and wanted to bring that flavor of beer back home.  Today, New Belgium is one of the largest craft brewers in the west coast and they are slowly starting to enter eastern markets. They produce different lines of beers including “Lips of Faith,” “Fat Tire & Friends,” and their “Explorer Series.”

www.newbelgium.com

Year-Round/Seasonals:

Lips of Faith Series:

1554: 86 Points

Are You Enlightened?

This Black Ale is has approximately 200 Calories and an IBU of 21. It is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “1554 Enlightened Black Ale uses a lager yeast strain and dark chocolaty malts to redefine what dark beer can be. A highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and mouthfeel.”

My Description: This was a pretty good beer that was satisfying and enjoyable but it didn’t leave me wanting more, one beer was enough. It starts off with a fluffy head that is light tan in color. It has decent retention but really nice lacing that kinda surprised me. The aroma has a roasty base with a moderate coffee scent accompanied by some chocolate and caramel notes. Not too much yeast esters that you would expect in a Belgian. The beer has a slightly higher carbonation level and is medium in body. The beer has a sweet base up front with some dark fruit notes and the taste of coffee. The aftertaste has some chocolate in it and is only slightly dry. Overall, it tastes fresh and airy. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with gourmet cheeses, short ribs, or desserts.

ABV: 5.6% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

ABBEY: 93 Points

It’s worthy

Part of the Explore Series, this Belgian style Dubbel has 210 Calories and is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “One of founder Jeff’s first two Belgian style homebrews (along with Fat Tire), Abbey is a Belgian dubbel (or double) brewed with six different malts and an authentic Belgian yeast strain. Abbey is bottle-conditioned, weighs in at 7.0% alcohol by volume, and pairs well with chocolate (or boldly served by itself) for dessert.”

My Description: Abbey is a complex beer that is both tasty and a makes for a great food pairing choice. It has a decent, light beige colored head that fades rather quickly to a film and leaves very minimal lacing. The aroma is filled with many fragrances that work nicely together to welcome your senses. There are notes of brown sugar, toasted malts, dark fruits like raisins, spices like cloves, a touch of alcohol, and it is all bundled around a sweet backbone; the aroma was impressive. Abbey is roughly medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Upfront the beer is malty sweet with flavor notes of raisins, blackberries, caramel, and a touch of alcohol. This transitions cleanly into an aftertaste that has very little, if any, bitterness but has flavors of bananas and spices like pepper and cloves which linger slightly. This semi-creamy beer is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with robust cheeses, roasted lamb chops, or wood grilled salmon.

ABV: 7%  Color: Mahogany  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

BELGO: 88 Points

Belgian Disco

Part of their Explorer Series, this Belgian Style India Pale Ale has an IBU of 60 and 201 Calories. It is generally available year-round.

Brewer’s Description: “Hmmm Belgo sounds like a Belgian disco. Hops like to party. Next thing you know, we bust out a disco-ball and brewers started groovin. Hops started hoppin. Add in an authentic Trappist yeast strain and the place brewed into a frenzy of citrus hoppy folly.”

My Description: I think I can groove to this IPA; it smells great, tastes good, and it is easy drinking. It has a thick and fluffy off-white colored head that leaves great lacing and retains really well. The aroma was my favorite part of the beer, it was a perfect mix of hops and yeast giving off fragrant notes of citrus hops, pine hops, cloves, and other yeast esters. The beer was medium bodied with a normal carbonation level for an IPA. Up front, you will get more of the yeast flavors such as cloves with a minor hint of light fruit. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with a hint of banana. The finish is dry with a lingering bitter flavor and no alcohol notes. Overall, the flavor combination was good but I thought that the hops could have tasted a little better, they seemed too sharp. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with smoked ham, brisket, or fish & chips.

ABV: 7%  Color: Peach/Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 6/10

DIG: 88 Points

Spring Seasonal

This Pale Ale has an IBU of 36 and 174 Calories. It is available seasonally in the Spring months.

Brewer’s Description: “Sorachi Ace hops provides a fresh Spring zing with incredible lemon aroma. Nelson Sauvin is next in line with bursts of passion fruit, mango and peach. American favorites, Cascade and Centennial round out this crisp, clean Pale Ale.”

My Description: The hops really do give you fruit flavors in this beer but they also give you just a bit too much bitterness as well. It has a fluffy, light tan colored head that has good retention and good lacing. The aroma is delightful with fragrant notes of citrus hops, light fruit, peaches, and a hint of lemon. However, the taste comes up just short of expectations. Up front you will taste some mango, some malt, and a hint of hops. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with a hint of sweetness. I just felt that the bitterness level was too high because it hid some of the hop flavors that excited me in the aroma. Plus, drinking this just didn’t remind of the Spring season. It’s still a good beer though and worth a try. It is best served around 42°F and pairs nicely with grilled fish, BBQ chicken, or roasted duck.

ABV: 5.6% Color: Orange Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

FAT TIRE: 82 Points

Sometimes fat is good

This is their flagship beer.  It is a Belgian Amber Ale with 155 Calories and and IBU of 18.5.  You can find this beer year-round in 22 oz. bottles or 12 oz. six packs in certain areas.

Brewer’s Description:  “Named in honor of our co-founder’s bike trip through Europe, Fat Tire Amber Ale marks a turning point in the young electrical engineer’s home brewing. Belgian beers use a far broader palette of ingredients (fruits, spices, esoteric yeast strains) than German or English styles. Together with co-founder, Kim Jordan, they traveled around sampling their homebrews to the public. Fat Tire won fans with its sense of balance: toasty, biscuit-like malt flavors coasting in equilibrium with hoppy freshness.”

My Description:  I can see why this is their flagship beer. It is well balanced, easy drinking, and satisfying to the average beer drinker.  It has a pleasant roasted malt aroma with minor notes of hops but a sub-par head with retention qualities that are not to be praised.  It has a nicely balanced flavor with notes of roasted malts and a toasty/sweet aftertaste.  The ale is medium bodied and smooth.  I would pair this brew with some gourmet cheeses, heavy pastas, or fish and chips.  The 22 oz. bottle goes for around $4.

ABV:  5.2%  Color:  Light Amber  Sweetness:  5/10  Bitterness:  3/10

HOPTOBER: 93 Points

Delicious and Crisp

Brewer’s Description: “Five hops and four malts make Hoptober Golden Ale a veritable cornucopia of the earth. Pale and wheat malt are mashed with rye and oats to create a medium-bodied ale with a creamy mouthfeel. Centennial, Cascade, Sterling, Willamette, and Glacier hops form a bonfire of citrus notes, fruity cheers and a bold finale.”

My Description: Indeed, this is damn good. This beer has so many ingredients and they just all seem to work in harmony to create a beer that I couldn’t put down. It starts off with an amazingly fluffy head that is white in color and stays the whole way. This beer has produced some of the best lacing I’ve ever seen on my stein, it might as well be glued on. The aroma smells fresh with and clean with some strong hop notes that are accompanied by some minor citrus and grassy notes. You will also pick up on some grain notes in the aroma as well if you allow the beer to warm up a bit. The first thing I noticed is how crisp and light this beer is; it is medium bodied but goes down like a light beer. All the grain and hops work together to create a great flavor that is mildly bitter with notes of citrus, grass, grains, and a little earth. The finish is clean with a bitter taste that lingers for some time. It is best served at around 45°F and pairs nicely with duck, BBQ chicken, or a cheeseburger.

ABV: 6%  Color: Deep Gold  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 6/10

PUMPKICK: 84 Points

Cranberries and Pumpkins

Cranberries and Pumpkins

This Pumpkin Ale is released seasonally in late Summer in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. Pumpkick is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing. Available in September and October 2014.”

My Description: There are a good amount of ingredients added to this Pumpkin Ale and they blend together nicely creating a different taste in a cluttered and abundant pumpkin beer market. It pours a good sized, off-white colored head that fades slowly to a thin film that holds most of the way leaving behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of nutmeg, pumpkin, pie crust, lemongrass, and a hint of tart. Pumpkick is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. This is a complex flavor profile that is a little more on the sweet side. This beer almost tastes like a mix between a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. There are notes of cranberries, all-spice, cinnamon, and a hint of tart. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and the alcohol is completely hidden. Pumpkin notes and malt notes are detected but definitely not the centerpiece. This is a crisp and refreshing beer for the season. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with pumpkin bread, cheesecake, or sautéed asparagus.

ABV: 6%  Color: Orange/Brown  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

RAMPANT: 91 Points

Clean Imperial IPA

Clean Imperial IPA

This Imperial IPA is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “A burly and bitter Imperial IPA, Rampant pours a pure copper and carries the sheen of a rightly hopped beer. The Mosaic and Calypso hops bring stonefruit to the front seat, and the addition of Centennials nod towards citrus for a well-rounded aroma. The taste expands these hops with heavy peach tones and a profoundly bitter bite. There is some malt sweetness to stand this beer up, and Rampant’s finish is bone-dry.

My Description: This is a good introductory Imperial IPA because it is smooth, flavorful, and not too heavy or too bitter. It begins with a large, bright white colored head with an excellent retention level that lasts the whole way leaving behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is probably the nicest part of this beer with vibrant pine hop notes and biscuit malt along with some tropical hop notes. Rampant is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer almost feels too thin at points making it drink like a regular IPA but that’s not too bad. I was hoping for a fuller body though. Either way, this beer tastes great with a hint of sweetness that floats throughout combating the dominating bitter presence. Floral hops and pine hops can be detected along with a fruit flavor that I feel is the peach that the description was talking about. The alcohol is nicely hidden and the aftertaste lingers with bitter notes for a while. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with chicken fried chicken, grilled ribs, or Thai noodles.

ABV: 8.5%  Color: Golden Peach  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

RED HOPTOBER: 93 Points

Sean Connery would be proud

This Amber Ale is released seasonally in the Autumn months in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The Eldorado hops are bold and present with a distinct, piney flavor while the caramel malt and roasted barley provide a backbone to stand Red Hoptober upright. Centennial and Cascade hops offer hints of citrus, tickling the nose, while the tongue carries a subtle, roasty tone that pairs pleasantly with the warming bite of bitter.”

My Description: This beer is flavorful, refreshing, and a welcome companion on those cool Autumn nights. It has a big and dense, light beige colored head that lasts the whole way producing a great amount of lacing that glues on to the glass. The aroma is straightforward and inviting with notes of toasted malt, pine hops, and a hint of citrus. It is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. It is smooth with flavor notes upfront of toasted bread, dark caramel, some earthiness, and woodsy hops. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and will linger. The alcohol was beautifully hidden but you will feel it. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage, burgers, or BBQ chicken.

ABV: 6% Color: Garnet Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 6/10

SNOW DAY: 89 Points

Must not have snowed.

This Winter Ale has 190 Calories and an IBU of 55. It is available seasonally in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Pleasantly hoppy, Snow Day carries the subtle chocolate and caramel flavors of a new brewing malt known as Midnight Wheat. The Styrian Golding, Centennial and Cascade hops bring the backbone of hoppy bitterness to complement the roasty undertones.”

My Description: This beer is really good but it was not what I expected at all. I was thinking this would be warming with the taste of malt and winter spices since this is labeled as a winter ale. Instead it was bitter and roasty; not a bad thing in a beer but not characteristic of the style. It has a fluffy tan colored head that holds really well and produces some great laces. The aroma is strong with the scent of hops that smell earthy and citrusy with the hint of sweetness. The beer smells really good and inviting. In the beginning of your drink you will taste some roasted malt with a hint of coffee. The aftertaste is surprisingly bitter but clean and there was no hint of alcohol at all. It is an overall great beer but I was hoping for a more traditional winter ale because I was in the mood for one. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with burgers, roast beef sandwiches, or BBQ chicken.

ABV: 6.2% Color: Dark Brown/Mahogany Sweetness: 4.5/10 Bitterness: 5/10

TRIPPEL: 90 Points

Nice take on Tripel

 This Belgian style Tripel has an IBU of 25 and 250 Calories. It is part of their Explore Series and is available year round.

Brewer’s Description: “Our Trippel Belgian Style Ale (pronounced triple) opens with a bold blast of hops that slowly gives way to the fruity esters implied by our Belgian yeast strain. In the Belgian tradition of brewing singles, doubles and triples, Trippel is the strongest with the longest fermentation. Remarkably smooth and complex, our bottle-conditioned Trippel is spiced with a trace of coriander.”

My Description: This is a really nice take on a Belgian tripel.  It starts off with a big and fluffy head that lingers throughout and creates beautiful lacing that is caked on.  The aroma nicely matches a traditional tripel aroma with notes of yeast, coriander, and some bubblegum as well. The aroma excites and prepares you for flavors to come.  This ale is smooth and crisp.  The alcohol is barely noticeable in the taste which helps to bring out the other flavors; however, the ABV is lower than other traditional tripels which are normally 9% or higher. This isn’t exactly a negative or a flaw in the style, it is just another brewer’s take on the style. The taste is filled with notes of yeast and spices that follow up with an aftertaste that is slightly bitter with notes of coriander.  I really enjoyed the taste, I generally prefer a higher ABV in my tripels but this is a high quality beer that deserves some respect. It is best served around 45°F and would pair nicely with risotto, gourmet cheeses, or grilled chicken.

ABV: 7.8%  Color: Gold  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 3/10

BIERE DE MARS: 85 Points

hmmm, Brettanomyces

Part of their Lips of Faith Series, this ale has 22 IBU’s and 195 Calories. It is available in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Brettanomyces, a wild yeast strain, added for bottle-conditioning creates a refreshingly sour flash across the palate. Lemon peel coupled with the lemon verbena imparts fruitlike character and a citrusy finish.”

My Description: This is a pretty good brew for the Spring season; it’s refreshing, flavorful, and a nice change from your everyday beers. It has a decent off-white head that fades quick but holds a thin film the rest of the way. The lacing is good though. The aroma is mild with notes of lemon, citrus, grain, and a hint of sourness. It is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level. Up front there will be flavor notes of citrus, lemon, grain, and a slight hint of tart and sour from the Brettanomyces. It has a semi-bisquity aftertaste with a touch of spice and a hint of bitterness. Overall, the flavors are nice but I feel the beer could have been more enjoyable. It is best served around 42°F and pairs nicely with salads, grilled fish, or fish tacos.

ABV: 6.2% Color: Hazy Orange Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

GRUIT: 92 Points

Delicious History

Delicious History

This Specialty Ale is released in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Experimentation doesn’t mean new. With our Gruit, the latest Lips of Faith release, it’s all about revisiting the ancient craft of bittering with herb mixtures, not hops. In here horehound, bog myrtle, yarrow, wormwood and elderflowers get together with rich malts to create a bitter, dry, velvet-like sweetness worth revering.

My Description: This is an interesting ale because it uses a unique blend herbs and spices to flavor and balance the beer, instead of the usual hops. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with a great retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma smells fresh and outdoorsy with notes of pale malts, some sweetness, apples, and herbs with a floral presence. Gruit is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A clean array of herbal and floral flavor notes sweep the palate but they are not overly sweet; actually this beer is balance beautifully with some bitter and earthy notes coming through as well. The yeast also adds flavors to this beer with some esters and spice notes. Stone fruits and green bananas add to the complexity and pale malt notes reminder you that you are drinking a beer. This is a delicious beer that is a joy to drink. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with smoked duck, grilled lamb chops, or a fruity salad.

ABV: 6.6%  Color: Deep Yellow/Gold  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 3/10

PEACH PORCH LOUNGER: 84 Points

I could see lounging to this

Part of the Lips of Faith Series, this Saison has 252 Calories and is released in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Beers and front porch lounging with G. Love means peaches, hominy grits, molasses and lemon peel, all funked up with pale and biscuit malts in a saison for sipping. In three-part harmony enters a healthy dose of Brettanomyces to bring tropical, citrus flavors and bold, sweet nose.”

My Description: This is a pretty good brew that would hit the spot on a warm summer day; it’s refreshing, crisp, and has those summer flavors. The head is average in size and white in color; it doesn’t last very long and leaves minimal lacing. The aroma smells fresh and clean with notes of malts, molasses, spices, and a hint of Brettonomyces funk. It is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The alcohol is nicely hidden but it’s presence is felt and it makes an appearance from time to time, which is expected and doesn’t deter from the enjoyment. The flavors upfront include notes of clove spice, floral, citrus, some earthiness, peaches, and a sourness that is satisfying. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and it doesn’t linger very much. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with light salads, grilled shrimp, or jambalaya.

ABV: 9.4% Color: Orange Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10

PRICKLY PASSION SAISON: 79 Points

Prickly with little passion

This Saison is part of the Lips of Faith Series. It is available in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Prickly pear and passion fruit mingle together for New Belgium’s return to farmhouse ales. Prickly Passion Saison is truly a beer for Belgian inspiration. The combination of passion fruit and prickly pear juices with the tropical esters of a traditionally earthy Saison yeast create a wonderfully broad and reaching mango-like character. Ostentatiously amber, this Prickly Passion Saison is sure to provoke the palate with a passionate prick, turn that bottle over and take a sip.”

My Description: This is a decent farmhouse ale that is flavorful and refreshing. It has a sub-par head that diminishes quickly leaving an off-white film that produces decent lacing. The aroma is pleasing and decent for this style. It smells of fruity esters with a little spice and bubblegum from the yeast. The beer has a slightly higher carbonation level and is medium bodied. The alcohol level is pretty high and it is only slightly noticeable which is nice. What’s interesting about this beer is that it tastes flavorful but you can’t really nail down a flavor. You will pick up on some cactus fruit, some tropical fruits, and some yeast esters with the addition of spice notes. The aftertaste could have been better, the flavors seem to bland out real quick and you are really not left with anything satisfying. It’s an all around good beer that will get you pretty buzzed if you drink the whole bomber (22 oz. bottle). However, I can only image myself drinking this once a year. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with spicy salads, pepper shrimp, or fresh fruit.

ABV: 8.5% Color: Light Amber Sweetness: 5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

SUPER CRU: 77 Points

Lips of Faith

This is a more elaborate version of the Fat Tire ale they produce. This is a limited production under their “Lips of Faith” series. It has 266 Calories.

Brewer’s Description: “Our 20th Anniversary! Let’s roll a bunch of New Belgium together and put it in a bottle. Start with the backbone of Fat Tire, but double the malt and hops; Add in crisp Asian Pears, a very Belgian thing to do; and bring it to life with a Saison yeast. It’s New Belgium Super Cru from us to you! “

My Description: For a beer with this much alcohol it has a nice and thick head that lingers; the lacing is also pretty good and lingers for a little bit. The aroma is definitely complex with notes of hops, a little pear, and some sweetness. It is medium bodied but not that smooth. The alcohol is definitely apparent which drowns out whatever pear flavors you can pick up. Malt notes make their appearance initially but disappear to a slight hop aftertaste. This brew just doesn’t live up to the expectations I put on this. The pear flavor is minimal, the alcohol taste is always there, and overall the beer is just not satisfying. A 22 oz. bottle goes for around $10.

ABV: 10% Color: Amber Sweetness: 5/10 Bitterness: 4/10

TART LYCHEE: 94 Points

Deliciously Tarty

Part of their Lips of Faith Series, this American Wild Ale is available in limited quantities in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Lychee Fruit is so insanely sweet and flavorful you almost can’t stand it alone. Sour to the rescue! The combination of our barrel-aged sour beer, Lychee Fruit puree, and cinnamon sticks pours a frothy head of tart perfection.”

My Description: This is one of the better American Tart beers that I’ve tasted; the flavors compliment each other nicely, the body is smooth and airy, and the sweet mixes beautifully with the tart. It has a good sized, white colored head that retains decently and produces some great lacing. The aroma has a hint of tart in it with a bright lychee presence that pleases the senses. It is medium bodied with an average carbonation level and a dry finish. As soon as the beer hits your lips you will get that strong tart presence accompanied by a minor taste of oak and cinnamon. The alcohol is nicely hidden and the beer goes down easy. The flavors really work great together and you’ll wish you got another bottle. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled chicken, sausage, or a strawberry cheesecake.

ABV: 7.5% Color: Hazy Light Orange Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10