New Belgium 2° Below Ale

December 15th, 2010 beckel

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 2° 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 16° 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 very palatable 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 overly noticeable. This clean malty ale is unassuming 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.

New Belgium 2 Below Ale

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale

September 22nd, 2008 beckel

I regularly hear and read good things about Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont, Colorado. Many of their beers have been recommended to me and from reading a bit about them they seem like a pretty cool company that supports the local community and understand the importance of one of my core beliefs, balance. Today I have Sawtooth Ale an Extra Special Bitter. Head is slightly off white with about an inch being produced in a nice simple cascading effect, fading at a reasonable rate. A nice orange color that lightens and darkens into a number of nice hues depending on lighting. Smell is nice and malty with a gentle roasted aroma as well as some nice balanced floral scents. The flavor of this beer is interesting, sweet and malty with some roasted hints as well as a kicking hop bitterness seconds later. Floral flavors are present and compliment the sweet malted barley well but are not dominant. Mouthfeel is relatively light making this an easy beer to drink as long as you don’t mind bitterness. With a 4.48% ABV this beer doesn’t taste alcoholic at all but you certainly know your drinking beer as it is so full flavored. Over all this is certainly a special and bitter beer as its style suggests, if you like hoppy bitterness but still want some nice malt flavors to compliment this is the drink for you. Would certainly be delicious with most any meal particularly one with strong flavors. If your not into bitter this beer probably won’t be your thing but you may just appreciate some of its nice malt flavors. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale