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

New Belgium Trippel

November 1st, 2010 beckel

Today I have another brew from Lake Wine & Spirits’ Citizen Six Pack. This time around it is a Belgian Inspired Tripel from the fine folks at New Belgium. I recall sampling this brew once at South Lyndale Liquors and remember not being blown away, but perhaps served properly it will be a better experience.

Pours a pale, golden straw hue that is completely translucent. About a finger and a half of bright white tight bubbles are created and fade within a minute or two. Smells of Pale Malt, citrus hops, largely lemon, bready esters and gentle coriander. Coriander comes through brighter in the flavor and sweet Munich & Pale Malt play a central role followed by gentle alcohol. Some additional earthy and herbal esters come from the yeast but are very simple. Body is light and the mouthfeel is carbonated and relatively clean. Over all a very simple approach to the style that will be very drinkable for most. While I find the lack of diverse yeast esters a bit boring it also makes this ale an easy stepping stone to the world of fantastic Belgian Ales. Not a brew for those against sweet malts but an easy sipper at 7.8% ABV. If you’re a fan of pale Belgian Style Ales and are looking for something readily available and very drinkable this might just be the beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

New Belgium Trippel

New Belgium Eric’s Ale

May 11th, 2010 beckel

Though this ale only showed up on our local shelves recently it was apparently the third release of New Belgium’s Lips Of Faith Series. This ale was the handy work of it’s namesake Eric Salazar who decided to play with their Belgian Style Blond Ale; aging it in Oak, adding peach juice & Brettanomyces yeast to create a unique sour ale. I was happy to find this bottle at The Four Firkins but it should be pretty widely available right now. Pours a completely translucent light copper hue that borders on peach with three fingers of clean white head that settles within less than a minute. Small bubbles continuously trickle from the bottom of the glass popping on the surface. Clean assertive tartness followed by gentle peach esters, very light malts and just a touch of alcohol. Smooth but potent sour esters remind me of cranberry & tangerine tannins and contrast with sweet peach, gentle malt esters, light bitterness and very subtle alcohol. Bright sour notes are very enjoyable and play very well with the sweet peach and smooth mouthfeel created by the oak aging. The 7% ABV of this beer is occasionally noticed but overall an after thought in this delicious brew. Body is on the light side of medium making this complex brew go down very easily. If you enjoy clean, full flavored sour ales this one is definitely worth your time. Additionally if you are new to the style this one isn’t a bad stepping stone as the fruit characteristics and oak aging make this ale very palatable for a tart brew. I would happily drink many more bottles of this brew, and might just have to. Give it  a shot and ride your bike.

New Belgium Eric's Ale