Daily beer project

New Benelux?

Posted in American Craft Beer by dailybeerproject on October 20, 2010

The wife recently returned from a trip to the midwest. Which meant she brought home beer that I can’t get here. Specifically, the folly pack from New Belgium (Fat Tire, Hoptober, Blue Paddle, and Ranger IPA) and a six pack of Mad Hatter IPA from New Holland. New Holland and New Belgium? We didn’t plan it, but it worked out to be a nice coincidence.

Hoptober: After the hit and miss with Oktoberfest beers tried previously, I was anxious to see what New Belgium’s offering was like. Frankly, I don’t think this brewery is capable of making a bad beer. Or maybe they are but wouldn’t. Either way, Hoptober is one of my favorite beers ever. It’s what I hoped Marzen beers would be like. Unbelievably awesome. I’m just disappointed that the folly pack only had three bottles of the stuff.

Blue Paddle: My disappointment didn’t last long, because I popped the top on a Blue Paddle lager and was totally stoked about it, too. This would be a great session beer–4.8% abv, highly drinkable, but plenty of character not to get bored with it. Tastes like a traditional Pilsner should, with a pleasantly sour malt balanced with a noticeable but not overpowering hop presence. Lovely stuff.

The other two offerings in the folly pack, Fat Tire and Ranger, I’ve reviewed before. Read about them here and here.

Mad Hatter: With the exception of Pete’s Wicked , Pete’s Strawberry Blonde, and Sam Adams, I can’t think of a domestic beer I’ve tried from anywhere East of Colorado. Which is not to say there aren’t good craft beers from East of Colorado, I just don’t have access to them.

Mad Hatter is well-regarded over at BeerAdvocate, and given that my beer journey is currently on its predictable detour through the IPAs, I was anxious to try this one. The anticipation was rewarded, as this is a fine beer. Interestingly, this was closer to the English IPA tradition than that of the Western United States in that the alcohol content was a mere 5.8%. The hops were noticeable but not overpowering and allowed more of the malt flavor to come through than in many other IPAs.

The delineation between pale ale and IPA is nebulous at best, with Dale’s Pale Ale being stronger and hoppier than Mad Hatter and various other IPAs. Of course for my purposes, I don’t particularly care what style a beer is (or calls itself), I just want it to taste good. And Mad Hatter certainly does.

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