Craft beer drinkers in our area are celebrating because New Belgium Brewing (Colorado) beers have finally made their way to South Florida. Sure, we’ve enjoyed New Belgium’s signature Fat Tire Amber Ale on numerous occasions, but most hop heads would agree: In the world of American craft beers, the Fat Tire is serviceable, at best…a nice stand by ale with a familiar flavor and headiness you like. This isn’t a knock on the Fat Tire, but a compliment on how consistent New Belgium is in creating an accessible craft ale year in and year out. However, New Belgium’s specialty ales and seasonal offerings are worth checking out. We sampled several of the big bottle offerings in New Belgium’s “Lips Of Faith” series (love that name) as well as their signature Trippel. Availability in South Florida limits us to only a few of New Belgium’s ales that we can try, but these are well worth trying if you can find them:
Heavenly Feijoa Tripel Dieu du Ciel! (ABV 9.4%)
The mad scientists at New Belgium brought together two innocuous flavor profiles to create one unique ale. The Heavenly Feijoa Tripel combines hibiscus flowers with Feijoa (pineapple guava). The melding of tart sweetness and exotic tropical flavoring makes for a unique, aromatic drinking experience. Like any Belgian-style Ale, the aromas and flavor came alive once it neared room temperature. The Heavenly Feijoa Tripel gets a 4 out of 5 bottle rating due to its flavor, color and complexity (5 being the highest rating on the Wanderlushes beer scale).
Trippel Belgian Style Ale (ABV 7.8%)
The Trippel Belgian Style Ale is a veritable hop lover’s delight. But despite how much hops you throw into the mix, a Trippel is a Trippel. The Trippel has a strong mouth feel, yet its unique Belgian yeast strain counterbalances the strong hop notes with a soft, fruitiness. We could definitely pick up the traces of coriander that added just a hint more spiciness. The New Belgium Trippel gets a 3 out of 5 bottle rating.
Cascara Quad (ABV 10%)
This sweet, complex ale is brewed with dates and get this…coffee cherries. We weren’t sure what coffee berries were until we did a little research into and then it all made sense. The Cascara Quad is dark and it is strong, but it is also a delicate ale, believe it or not. Malt is front and center with a bit of banana present in the quaff, as you’d expect, but there are also strong hints of clove, fig and caramel…especially when you let it warm up a bit in the glass. We were very impressed. The NBB Cascara Quad gets a 5 out of 5 bottles rating on the Wanderlushes beer scale.
Paardebloem Ale (ABV 9.0%)
After enjoying Heavenly Feijoa Tripel Dieu du Ciel and the Cascara Quad, the Paardebloem Ale was probably our least favorite of the Lips Of Faith series we tried. Brewed with dandelion greens for bitterness, New Belgium collaborated with Red Rock Brewing (Salt Lake City, UT) to create this Belgian-style ale. The wild Belgian yeast is evident at the beginning and middle – yet even with some wood-aged beer and grains of paradise added in, this ale fell short of our expectations. It’s not a bad ale by any stretch (any craft beer maker would be proud to create an ale like this), but it does lack complexity. The Paardebloem Ale gets a 3 out of 5 bottles Wanderlushes rating.
Pluot Ale (ABV 10%)
A plum and an apricot got drunk, hooked up and had a love child they called pluot. Sounds weird, right? But this hybrid fruit actually exists and is the basis for the New Belgium Brewing Pluot Ale. The aroma is unmistakably fruity. Combine this with Belgian ale yeast and you have an exotic little combo of flavors going on. The Pluot wasn’t our favorite of the Lips Of Faith series thus far, but it is by far the most complex and is worth trying. This could work as a dessert beer to be paired with slices of fresh apple or pear. The Pluot Ale gets a 4 out of 5 bottles Wanderlushes rating.