TREE BUCKET: 94 Points
This Belgian Strong/Belgian IIPA is released in late February in 16 oz. can.s
Brewer’s Description: “Belgian candy sugar and the Ardennes yeast strain lend sweetness to this very, very hoppy beer. Tropical fruit-forward Citra hops, among others, give balance to the sweet profile and high ABV. The beer is babied in the fermentation tanks and dry hopped just before packaging. From aroma to sip to burp, this beer will have you storming the gates for your next pint.”
My Description: This is one soft Imperial IPA, the hops are mellow and the candy sugar comes through easily. It begins with a large and dense, white colored head that lasts the whole way leaving behind a wall of lacing. The aroma is unique and pleasant with notes of Belgian yeast esters, citrus hops, melon, and a touch of lemon funk. Tree Bucket is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is definitely on the softer side of bitterness. Sweet candy undertones are detected throughout along side juicy notes of tropical hops and citrus hops. The beer exhibits an overall earthy and lemon funk presence but it never takes center stage; these notes are sometimes faint allowing the other notes to come through cleanly. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and the aftertaste is slightly bitter with lingering sweet notes. Overall, this is an extremely smooth ale that is pleasure to drink. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with sharp Cheddar, shrimp tacos, or spicy veggie chili.
ABV: 9.3% Color: Golden Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
BURLY: 93 Points
You know you like it burly
This Belgian IPA is a seasonal release in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “The February seasonal in North Peak’s line of hand-crafted microbrews, pays tribute to the third-yeti or Abominable Snowman, the human-like creature is believed to be a direct descendent of Sasquatch, otherwise known as Bigfoot. Its story is well known around the world in different mythologies, folk tales and legends, dating back hundreds of years. Yet, its existence remains one of the big mysteries – or some may say debates – of the modern day. Considered one of the most debated creatures, its history runs as deep as its footprints in the Northern Michigan backwoods.”
My Description: I’m glad I spotted this Yeti. It begins with a weak, white colored head, that fades quick but holds on the whole way leaving behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of tropical fruits, peppery spice, citrus hops, and a touch of pine hops. Burly is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is rather tasty and grows on you. Yeast phenols take center stage but don’t necessarily dominate, hop flavors come through as well. Notes of pepper spice pairs cleanly with tropical hop notes such as papaya. A hint of sweetness is apparent throughout as well as pine hop notes. The aftertaste is moderately high in bitterness with lingering tropical notes. This is nicely crafted beer that is enjoyable and refreshing. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, a spicy vegetable stew, or grilled asparagus.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Hazy Orange/Honey Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 6/10
TRIOMPHE: 93 Points
Crisp and Delicious
This Belgian IPA is available year-round in 16 oz. cans.
Brewer’s Description: “Triomphe is made with a classic Belgian style yeast strain that gives the complexity and slight sweetness you may expect from a Belgian style ale. The beer then reaches deeper still, providing a smack-down of American grown hops to turn the style on its head. It has a light caramel color and is strongly bitter with a fruity, citrus aroma.”
My Description: I love the balance of this ale. This beer does not deliver juicy hop flavors but that is not a requisite of the style. I think Vivant did a great job showcasing their version of a Belgian IPA. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is amazing here; a beautiful collage of different notes that blend cleanly together. Some sweet scent notes are accompanied by notes of Belgian yeast funk, citrus hops, and mint. Triomphe is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is clean and tasty with notes of green bananas, citrus hops, and some minor biscuit notes. This beer has a herbal presence to it that fits right in and the alcohol is completely hidden. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a lingering yeast spice note. Overall, this is an easy drinking beer that is crisp and tastes great. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with Thai dishes, veggie pizzas, or jerk chicken.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Orange Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
WHIPLASH: 89 Points
Mild Yeast Notes
This White IPA is released seasonally in the Winter months in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “What happens when a 500year old Belgian style ale gets rear-ended bya truckload of pompous American hops? It equals one heck of an ambulance chaser of a beer. This is an American style Belgian IPA, with a subtle phenolic ﬂavor in combination with citrusy/piney hops, well balanced at 6.2% and 55 IBUs, with a tart, dry ﬁnish.”
My Description: This is a well crafted Belgian IPA that is more on the subtle and easy drinking side as opposed to the strong and potent hop bombs with pronounced yeast flavors. It begins with a large, white colored head with an excellent retention level that lasts the whole way leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming with a fruity and floral presence along with notes of grapefruit hops and a touch of malt. Whiplash is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is mild overall with a subtle sweet malt note in the background and not too much yeast flavors going on. Grapefruit hops and floral hops can be detected along with some spice undertones. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a lingering pine hop note. This beer delivers great drinkability and is highly enjoyable. It could have been a bit more bitter but that is just one man’s opinion. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, spicy fish tacos, or mushroom burgers.
ABV: 6.2% Color: Hazy Yellow/Gold Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
HOPSINJOOR: 94 Points
Not overly bitter
This Belgian Strong Ale/Belgian IPA is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Name: “Hopsinjoor” is a wordplay to for one thing the several hops which were used, and on the other hand the typical character of Mechelen of Gouden Carolus: the figure “opsinjoor” is intertwined with the history of Mechelen (see: www.opsinjoorke.be/Opsinjoorke/opsinjoor.htm). Kind of hops: 4 types of hops are used: Golding, Spalt, Hallertau and Saaz. These hops were fractioned at several times in the cooking process in order to keep a maximum of aroma. Regarding to taste we can say that the beer has a gentle, but nevertheless bitter aftertaste.”
My Description: Het Anker does a fantastic job delivering a bitter beer that is filled with flavor and does not destroy the palate. It begins with a very large, white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is hop forward with floral notes being the most dominant. There are also notes of peaches and earthy hops as well. Hopsinjoor is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A great balance of flavors begins with a touch of sweetness upfront with notes of floral hops, pale malts, some citrus notes, and a yeast notes. This transitions cleanly into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter but definitely not like an American IPA. Yeast spice undertones and a creamy texture add character and the alcohol is nicely hidden. This is a well crafted beer for any occasion. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage, heavy salads, or ceviche.
ABV: 8% Color: Hazy Pale Gold Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10
SPACEWALKER: 89 Points
For the Astronauts
This Belgian IPA is released seasonally in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Spacewalker American Belgo is named for the surprising number of astronauts who have called Ohio home. Brewed with Belgian yeast and American hops, including the experimental ADHA 881 hop, Spacewalker is bold yet balanced with spicy, fruity flavors.”
My Description: Congratulations to Ohio for producing a vast amount of astronauts, but you’re college football teams still suck. It begins with a large, white colored head with an excellent retention level and it leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma is interesting and complex with a funky backbone with notes of yeast spices, some herbal hints, and light fruit notes like pears. Spacewalker is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose nicely with a pale malt body holding up notes of cloves, citrus hops, and a touch of sweetness. Some floral characters adds complexity and the aftertaste is moderately bitter making this beer easy drinking. The alcohol here is beautifully hidden but felt after one bottle. I love the body of this beer with just the right amount of carbonation and bitterness but I felt that the flavors could have been more in harmony. Never-the-less, this beer is great and best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, Thai noodles, or Blue Cheese.
ABV: 8.2% Color: Hazy Orange Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5/10