Monday, October 29, 2007

New Belgium tasting at Max & Joe's

Well, my notes from this one are a bit sketchy, but here's what I remember from the evening of October 18...

First of all, thanks to Bill Rauth for setting me up with a ticket! I was having a beer down in the Huber Haus when Bill said his buddy couldn't make it and asked me if I wanted the ticket. I owe him an equivalent amount of beer when he visits the pub in Columbus!

Polka jam at the Huber Haus!

Travis Flett(?), local New Belgium sales guy, introduced the evening's speakers. Eric Salazar has been brewing at New Belgium for 13 years, and his wife Lauren has been doing sensory QA work there for ten. They are both GABF and World Beer Cup judges, and they both really love their jobs!

Eric and Lauren and friends

After each of us tasters being presented with our very own New Belgium glass, we started off with Mothership Wit. The name "Mothership" refers to the Fort Collins brewery. This was their first organic beer, and they had a hard time finding their ingredients. Lauren says it pairs up well with shellfish, fish tacos, mussels, ceviche, and Mexican food.

Beer #2 was my favorite "everyday" New Belgium beer, 1554. This black Belgian-style beer is fermented with a lager yeast and hopped to 12 BU with Target hops. They don't use any aroma hops. It doesn't fit into any GABF styles; in fact, New Belgium brewmaster Peter Bouckaert (formerly of Rodenbach) says he's not a big fan of beer styles. Rather, he designs beers to answer the question "what are you thirsty for?" Lauren says that she hears a lot of women say that dark beers don't scare them. Pair this beer with cheese, dry-rub barbecue pork and chicken, and burgers.

2° Below, a 6.6% abv Winter Ale, is Travis' favorite. He describes it as "IPA without the bitterness". It has a fiercely spicy floral hop aroma.

After a few snacks of crackers and cheese, we were treated to a glass of the famous La Folie. The draft version is a blend of different years' brews. La Folie has its own dedicated set of pipes and vessels in the brewery. It's very tart...more so than the bottled version. It's a great dessert beer, with dark chocolate and nougat.

Rare New Belgium taps at Max & Joe's

A special treat tonight — well, one of many — was a taste of the special version of La Folie that was brewed for the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. This one is even more tart and has a much better balance than the standard recipe.

The sixth beer was a unique experience: Eric's Ale, also known as "Lips of Faith". It's a wood-aged beer, brewed with peaches and ten-year-old hops, and blended with La Folie and a Belgian Golden ale. 17.5° Plato and 7% abv, for those keeping score. It has a huge peach aroma and a mild peach flavor; it's malty, with a peach finish. If you like Belgian-style fruit beers, this one's for you. Personally, I didn't think the peach worked too well with the Brettanomyces character.

Finally, Le Terroir, a dry-hopped sour Brown, and another member of the "Lips of Faith" series. It's fiercely sour. It's really dry. Its Amarillo hop aroma is intense. They made one barrel, filtered it, and carbonated it in the keg, and we're drinking the keg now. (The remnants were still on tap at the Crescent Moon as of last Friday the 26th.) It's definitely the most tart beer of the night...great stuff!

Thanks to Eric, Lauren, and Travis for putting on the show, and thanks to Bill and Jen for hosting this party at Max & Joe's!

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