I feel like I’ve kinda been on a little mission ever since the winter beer season started. Thus far I haven’t really hit a whole lot of them here on the blog , but I am starting to get around to a lot more of the brews now. I kinda know what I like to drink during some of the other seasons; however, the winter is a little confusing. I think before beginning my foray into craft beer, I basically relied on Sam Adams to tell me what beer season it was. I liked to follow their seasonal schedule, and I never really questioned if there was a better seasonal brew out there. Now that I have seen the light, I really want to try and experience most of what is available out there. I kinda feel like a kid who just discovered candy. I could taste every brand and every kind available; however, I know it’s not good for me. I don’t know that it will stop me though.
I have already ventured out into one review of a specific Christmas brew; however, this is more of a general winter brew. New Belgium is actually a pretty new brewery to the DC area. Although I have heard the lore of Fat Tire for many a year now, I have had very few opportunities to actually taste the legend. Therefore, it was actually quite a big deal when it finally arrived on the shelves of my local store. I somehow managed to stay away from throwing a few reviews up here of some of their different products, but I have had a few of their different brews over the past few months. Searching desperately for a few weeks now for an amazing winter brew, I was really happy to find a little single 12oz available at my local store.
The pour on this one came out a very dark black color with a light white head that develops on top. Unfortunately, because I broke my tulip glass, I had to use a snifter on this one. However, there seemed to be some ample head despite glassware. The lacing was significant and managed to really cling to the glass for a while. Swirling the glass really brought a lot of head back on top of the beer once again. The actual liquid had a definite hazy quality to it. Although you can see through it near the top of the beer, there is a cloud of mystery as you get lower in the glass; however, you can see the carbonation in the glass as well.
The hops steal the show in the smell department. I have been so focused on different seasonal beers, stouts, and porters, that I actually almost forgot about how much I really love hops. You can pull a slight orangey citrus scent out of here as well. Hidden behind the hops is the very light chocolate smell, and hidden a little further back, you can pull out a little bit of the coffee scent here as well. Overall, this seems like a much more hops forward beer based on the smell. There is a crisp quality that you don’t get out of a lot of dark beers.
The taste confirms what was revealed in the smell. The hops are the most prominent aspect of this beer. Before the really strong hops come in, you get a very quite malty bready quality that helps intro into the hops. The hops, however, will not be delayed for very long. They come in strong and give you a very piney slap in the face. Aside from being quite strong at the onset, they also last through the duration of the beer e as well. Really they carry you pretty close to the finish of this beer. The chocolate and coffee flavors are delayed for the end of the beer as the hop flavors begin to mellow. The coffee is really pleasant and carries you into a slightly bitter aftertaste.
The mouthfeel here is really interesting. I think this could be the first time I’ve had a beer noticeably dry my mouth out at the end. I’m not sure that it is unpleasant, but I did notice that the beer leaves your mouth a little dry at the end. The carbonation is fairly high on this one as well, but I think it works in the entire composition of the beer. The aftertaste, while coming across a little dry, is not really unpleasant at all. Yes it is slightly bitter, but what do you expect from something that combines coffee and hops.
Ever since having the Stone 15 year, I have hoped to find a good Black IPA that is a little more findable. I’m not sure that this one is quite on that level, but it is quite good as well. New Belgium actually doesn’t even bill this one as a Black IPA, but it does have a very similar feel. If you’re looking for a pretty good winter beer with a lot of hops flavor, you should definitely check this one out.
Teacher Grade: A