New Belgium Crosses the Mississippi


This morning, I discovered our kitchen scale battery is dead. This led to an unfortunate chain of events including eyeballing the amount of coffee beans to put into the burr grinder, leaving the burr grinder on too long, getting the grounds all over the countertop, etc. My coffee doesn’t taste the best, and this doesn’t bode well for the rest of the day. So I’ll fixate on yesterday instead, when we had a few friends over to catch up. My drink of choice was pretty awesome, and of course comes with a story.

On August 22nd, the INCREDIBLE new Whole Foods in Charlottesville had a sign: “NEW BELGIUM COMING TO CVILLE!” New Belgium, a Colorado-based brewery, had long been serving the West Coast, and to its avid followers [I imagine these people to be the dudes with beards that were snatching them off the shelves in Whole Foods in mass quantities that day, and Shaun*] its arrival on the East Coast is a wonderful thing.

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about New Belgium’s products, but I often heard people whisper “Fat Tire” with glossy-eyed nostalgia, so I set out on a mission to try These Magical Beers and find out why they are so special. New Belgium brews in the Belgian-style [Wikipedia actually has a great run-through of how Belgian beers differ from other regions], which is a plus one for them because my un-sophisticated beer palate is drawn more to Belgian beers. What sets New Belgium apart is the unique ingredients they use or brewing twists they employ.

To date, I’ve tried:

Ranger IPA – A note about my beer tastes: there will rarely be a time I enjoy an India Pale Ale. I prefer less hops, and when hops exist I prefer to douse them with malt. This tasted like a classic IPA – dry and hoppy.

Super Cru – Fat Tire + more hops and malt + Asian Pear. This one is really interesting – the pear is a great touch. It’s also dangerous, because it doesn’t taste like its ABV should be as high as it is (10%).

Hoptober – A seasonal, golden ale. This one has a hint of wheat, which gives it the golden color and makes it delicious.

Fat Tire – The traditional (and ever popular) amber ale. The malt and hops are equally as prominent, making this what some would call a “session beer.”

Trippel – Called such because of its fermentation process (longer than a dubbel or a single), this is New Belgium’s “Belgian-style” ale. It’s super smooth and straightforward. The twist? It’s spiced with coriander.

Kick – brewed with cranberry/pumpkin ale. Definitely has a kick, but it’s not what I look for when drinking a beer. I could see this appealing to someone who is craving a cider.

And last night, I had Clutch.

I tried to hide the Chimay label on the glass.

As I said before, my beer palate is a work-in-progress, but one thing I know I love is a good, dark, stout. I will have Bluegrass Brewing‘s Bourbon Barrel Stout ANY night at Beer Run. I will generally always favor either a stout or a white. There’s something about the smooth texture, common for both types of beer, that I enjoy.

What sets Clutch apart from most stouts I’ve had is its twist: Labeled a “dark sour ale,” it’s 80% stout, 20% dark sour beer. The first sip is sour, the finish is chocolate. You can’t go wrong. It was the perfect dessert.** 

As it stands, my favorite New Belgium for relaxing on the porch is definitely the Trippel. My favorite of all is the Clutch, but that of course is not something you could sit and drink a lot of.  The Hoptober comes in at #3. I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts on New Belgium’s ascent to greatness on the East Coast!

Tonight: Justin Townes Earle. Stay tuned.

* He sort of has a beard right now, too.

** Don’t be fooled, it wasn’t my only dessert. I can’t resist pretzels when drinking beer.

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Categories: Beverages

Author:ryesandshine

Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/

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  1. Top of the Hops Beer Fest | Ryes and 'Shine - September 11, 2011

    […] learning more about New Belgium Brewery, which I previously wrote about. A former Colorado brewer who moved to Maryland and volunteered at the Victory Brewing table […]

  2. C’Ville’s Best Places to Watch the Game, Pt. II | Ryes and 'Shine - October 8, 2011

    […] of Italian wines, Virginia wines, and Virginia beers. All of their beers on draft, except for their New Belgium tap, are Virginian. They also have something called a “Pomegranate Margarita Martini,” […]

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