Beer Review No. 5

This beer review is roughly my fifth here on the blog, and it features five beers. I didn’t plan it that way :-)

First up is a nice selection from New Belgium Brewing Co. I’ve come to really, really enjoy beer from this brewer. There’s just something about the taste, in general, of all their beers. More about that later…

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(Just in case you’re wondering, those are LEGO parts in the photo :-) I’ve been building a lot lately, and nothing goes better with an afternoon of creative brick building than a quality beer)

Blue Paddle (pilsener lager) This was different from what I’m used to from NB. It’s got a very slight hoppy taste that hampers some of its smoothness, but it has that nice, NB base flavor*. There’s just something a bit different in the taste that I can’t pin down. I tried it for the first time last Saturday, and I wasn’t too impressed. But I tried it again on Sunday with a totally clean pallet and really enjoyed it. I think it’s a taste that doesn’t mix well with other beers (I’d been drinking a little 1554 on Sat.).

1554 (enlightened black ale) Wow, this was great. 1554 is a Guinness stout meets Fat Tire in a subdued and balanced mix. It is rich, but not too rich. It has awesome flavor that is just right. This was my first experience with this beer, and I’ll be drinking much more of it in the near future :-)

Abbey (Belgian style ale) Now we’re getting to my favorite beer type – Belgian Ale, and NB’s Abbey is good. It’s rich and tastey, having that full-flavored ale taste. It’s smooth and goes down well. And, best of all, it has hints of that classic “base” flavor*. If you’ve never tried a Belgian Ale, this is a good one to start with.

Trippel (Belgian style ale) NB’s Trippel is extremely full and has a bit of the “base” NB flavor*. It doesn’t have a very strong “sweet doughy” taste that other heavy trippels have (like Maredsous, St. Bernardus, etc.), thus earning them the nickname, “liquid bread”. But it’s still pretty darn good. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it when in the mood for such a beer (which I frequently am :-) )

* All NB’s beers all have a little bit of that “base” flavor. This is the characteristic smokey, burned flavor that is so prevalent in Fat Tire (one of my favorites from NB). It’s a unique taste that I absolutely love, and one that keeps me coming back to NB’s fine beers. I cannot say enough good things about it – just get out and try some!

** Another side-note that I’d like to mention about NB’s beers is that they usually all taste pretty fresh. Well, no bottled beer is going to taste as good as draft, and some really suck in that respect, but NB’s beers capture a lot of that freshness and it comes through nicely once you’ve popped that cap off.

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Salvator (Double Bock; by Paulaner) I’ve reviewed this beer before, but I thought I’d mention it again since I just had some this past weekend :-) I picked up the Blue Paddle and 1554 at my local Specs (Houston) and couldn’t resist getting this little bottle. For $2-something, I just couldn’t pass it up.

I always get smiles from the folks at Specs when they see me there. It’s probably because I’m a frequent flyer and they recognize me, but I like to think that they’re pleased with my beer selection :-) The beer guy always smiles and nods his head. I guess I’m just a different customer than the beer posers that come in looking for beer-flavored-water, er… Coors Light. I guess I’d cringe too at the sight of Billy-Bob and Cletus bumbling in the store on a Friday afternoon, knowing that they’re going to stand at the cooler holding three doors open while debating over Miller or Bud or Coors and which gives the worst hangover.

Anyway, I love this thick, hearty beer. It has a strong “sweet doughy” taste that verges on being sour. It might be overpowering for some, and it’s not as well balanced as the grander beers made by Maredsous, St. Bernardus, etc., but the Salvator is still pretty darn good. If Maredsous were a 10, the Salvator would be a 9.

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