The Burrito Tribune

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randomness, truth, and burritos

Craft Beer: New Belgium Brewery: 1554 Black Lager

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This is the last New Belgium beer that I have on hand for review at the moment.  So far, I have been rather impressed with their work.  I know that they have a number of other beers on hand to try, but until I can make another beer run I will have to wait on the rest of their line-up.  I’d also like to start getting back to a more diverse sampling for a little bit.

1554 is a bit of a curiousity to me as I pour it.  It is a 5.6% ABV Black Lager brewed by New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO.  The bottle claims it is inspired by a Belgian book from 1554.  Need to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how to take that.  It sounds like a marketing ploy to me, but their beers have been good enough so far to let this slide.

Pouring the beer produced a healthy, if somewhat muted head compared to the last two New Belgium brews I have sampled.  It still coated the glass well, but the head did sink faster than the others.  The beer does not give off a very strong aroma.  I had to struggle to even get anything off of the glass.  What I did notice was a blend of brown sugar and rich chocolate, almost like the smell of a great hot chocolate, but a bit more muted than you would expect.

Ok, this journey is going to be an interesting one.  The subtle aromas from pouring had me expecting something lighter and very subtle.  I was surprised to find out that this is not the case.  The first taste of this beer is incredibly intense.  It sounds like a weird mix, but it works for this beer, the first taste reminds me of a blend of celery and subdued chocolate.  The carbonation adds to this and makes for a rich flavored beer that is still very refreshing.  It took me a little bit of restraint to not just gulp it down in a “I’m parched and this is delicious!” kind of way.  The finish is definitely more on the chocolate end, with a slightly sweet and rich body.

The last two new Belgium beers seemed to be calibrated for warmer weather.  While this doesn’t have the “stick to your ribs” quality of a winter beer, I would definitely put this more in a Fall or Spring category.  While not too filling, this beer feels like it could stand up to a little chill in the air.  I also get this vision in my mind of enjoying this with a huge porterhouse steak dinner with green beans, potatoes, and all the other good stuff.

I have liked all of the New Belgium beers I have tasted so far.  While I know there will be more, this has been my favorite one to date.  Maybe it’s the season, ask me about the IPA Ranger when the middle of July hits next year.  Until then, if you can find this in your area, I highly recommend you give it a try.

Filed under: Lager, , , , ,

Craft Beer: New Belgium Ranger IPA

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Despite being a bit overdosed on IPAs with this blog, I have been very eager to try this New Belgium Ranger IPA.  New Belgium is a brewery that has produced some good beers that I can always turn to when I am out with my friends.  They’re big enough to be found in most bars that cater to craft beer, yet still independent enough to be fun to look for when you’re out.

The Ranger IPA is made in Fort Collins, CO and is 6.7% ABV.  This is a bit higher than normal, but I would not worry about it catching me off guard while drinking out with the guys.

Like the Fat Tire, when pouring this beer I noticed that it produces a very strong prominent head (see the picture, I got impatient waiting for it to settle).  It also does a very good job of coating the glass as it comes down.  The carbonation does a great job of giving loft to the aromatics of the hops and malt with this beer.  It smells absolutely delicious, with strong hints of sweet orange.  It makes me think of biting into an orange that’s been floating in fruit punch all day.

When Ranger first hit my tongue, I was shocked at the sweetness that comes from it.  It is not a standard feature in the many IPAs that are on the market today.  For the briefest of instants, it gives you this sweet kick, like the icing on an orange cinnamon roll, before the hops roll in and remind you it’s a full-strength IPA.  The kick of the hops is a unique contrast to the sweetness and on some level reminds me of sweet/tart theater candy (take your pick of which).  It’s a contrast that adds great complexity to the beer and keeps it a refreshing option in an industry practically overrun with IPAs.

The flavors feel like they zig-zag back and forth before finally finishing on a sweet note.  The final sweetness is another welcome change from  your typical IPA and keeps me quickly coming back for another sip.

As far as IPAs go (and this blog shows I’ve been sampling my fair share)  this is one of my favorite to date.  I would generally keep my IPAs for warmer weather, this one is especially great because the flavor isn’t too astringent and unlikely to leave you feeling parched because of its strength.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , ,

Craft Beer: New Belgium Fat Tire

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I should come clean and say that even though I decided to review this beer, this is by far not the first time I have had this amber ale. It has often been a favorite of mine during happy hour or when I am out on the town with my friends. I cannot say it is my all-time favorite beer, but it is a very reliable beer that you can easily find on draft in my area. It is a beer that I can drink several of through the night and not easily tire of the flavor.
Fat Tire is brewed by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins Colorado. It is 5.2% ABV, a pretty standard strength for a craft beer. It also tends to be a standard craft beer on draft here in Charlotte, NC.
Pouring the drink looks quite impressive. It produces a substantial head, and it actually took a good bit of time for the head to settle so I could finish pouring the bottle. It clung to the glass nicely, while the beer itself is a very nice dark amber color, almost brown.
The beer has the smell of a fresh cut apple or pear. It’s cooling, but more mellow than crisp. Even the scent has a sweetness to it that is very pleasant. The first taste has a noticeable presence of hops, but it isn’t the kick in the teeth that most IPAs and pale ales have. It is extremely smooth and pleasing, yet not strongly flavored. The presence of an apple flavor or tart melon is still apparent. It makes the beer very light in body but quite refreshing. The beer finishes with a subtle sweetness that reminds me of fresh berries.
This beer is reasonably priced at $5 for a pint at my local pub. Its light body and fruity essence make it a great hot weather beer, though for a true beer snob who loves his porters and stouts, it might be a little lacking in complexity.

Filed under: Amber, , , , ,