Today I have one of my favorite seasonals from New Belgium Brewing Company. As a Minnesotan the name alone has a special place in my heart. When New Belgium made their way back into our market this was one of a few seasonals that I was very excited to sample, and though we didn’t get it until the next year I was quite satisfied. Their website calls 2Â° Below a Winter Warmer, but it’s more like an Extra Special Bitter, though the 6.6% ABV it will certainly keep you warm after a few. Lets see how it tastes on this lovely 16Â° winter day.
Two fingers of bright white head adorn this translucent copper colored Ale. The residual head and notable lacing are a bit surprising for the style, but create a lovely appearance. Smells of light grains, gentle nuttiness from the Victory Malt, Caramel Malt sweetness, a touch of alcohol and esters that remind me a bit of lager yeast (which is of course not present). Flavor is even more nutty than the aroma making this holiday ale a solid candidate for a variety of food parings throughout the season. Malt esters play the central role in the brew, as they should, but enjoyable citrus esters and mild bitterness compliment the malty sweetness and nutty esters creating a veryÂ palatableÂ and well rounded brew. Body is medium-light and the moutfeel is relatively clean. While the 6.6% ABV of this brew is a nice bonus, it is not overlyÂ noticeable. This clean malty ale isÂ unassumingÂ but still has enough flavor to make most happy. While it’s past Thanksgiving this brew would pair perfectly with turkey and stuffing and probably similarly well with your Christmas dinner. A solid brew that I will happily drink, particularly in cooler weather. While not as hoppy as the beers I tend to gravitate towards this ESB is to style and has enough contrast to please most people. As with many brews from New Belgium’s catalog this approachable brew is a great gateway beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.