Review: Beers of New Belgium, 2018 Releases
Today we present four new beers from the ever-cranking innovators of New Belgium Brewing. Probably safe to say you’ll see plenty more from these guys later in the year.
New Belgium The Hemperor HPA – The wildest brew in this lineup, this “world’s dankest ale” is an IPA brewed with both hops and hemp hearts (seeds) to create, indeed, a very dank beer. Though the beer does not contain THC, it will sure make you smell like it. Pungent and weedy (unlike, say, Medicator), it’s bongwater in a bottle, at least at the funky start. As the beer evolves in the glass, more of the hop character comes into focus, layering in piney hops and a touch of citrus. The finish even finds room for a bit of dark chocolate character. And, you know, a toke. 7% abv. B / $12 per six-pack
New Belgium Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza – This is a collaboration between New Belgium and Cervecería Primus in Mexico City. The idea: “To brew a revolutionary new beer style in the spirit of international collaboration … an innovative new concept in craft beer that merges the tradition of Mexico’s refreshing agua fresca drinks with the ingenuity and craftsmanship of two breweries.” It’s a weird combo, mixing in watermelon, lime, hibiscus, and agave with a Mexican style lager. While the lime and lager are natural friends, the edge of watermelon and hibiscus-driven florals take things into a strange territory, where fruit gives an unnatural sweetness to the proceedings and the floral notes feel a bit too perfumed. I get the idea of mixing beer and agua fresca… but why all the agua frescas at once? 4.2% abv. B- / $8 per six-pack
New Belgium Bicycle Kick Kolsch – This is a massive (and limited) worldwide collaboration among six breweries: New Belgium, Adnams (England), Baird (Japan), Bodebrown (Brazil), Devil’s Peak (South Africa), and Primus (Mexico). And yet it’s decidedly simple. Though chamomile and lemongrass are added to the brew, it drinks largely like an exemplar of the style. Moderately sweet with malt and gently fruity, you can pick out some of the herbal touches driven by the chamomile, but otherwise it comes across as crisp and fresh, with just a dollop of salted caramel. Definitely one to grab while you can. 5.1% abv. A- / $15 per 12-pack (cans only)
New Belgium Tartastic Strawberry Lemon Ale – This latest addition to the Tartastic series is much less sour than most entries in the line, with a more restrained fruit character. It’s more like a shandy than other Tartastic expressions, the strawberry notes giving it a piquant kick on the back end. While few of the Tartastic beers do a lot for me, this one comes across as refreshing and summery. 4.2% abv. B+ / $8 per six-pack