Maybe it was the garlic that I had just finished chopping, or the parsley in the delicious quinoa salad my wife had just made, but my first whiff of New Belgium’s Pumpkick was an instant flash forward to the fourth Thursday in November. This feels a little early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, but who am I to argue with one of my favorite Colorado breweries? This is the first Pumpkin beer on the shelf at the local Trader Joe's, so maybe they're just getting a jump on the competition.
One of my friends is already posting Facebook pictures of snow in his backyard. Meanwhile, I'm like Ron Swanson over here in my thick sweater. It's definitely going to be a booties and gloves surf day.
Winter means a fresh collection of seasonals. Usually, these are dark, heavy beers with plenty of spices. The kind perfectly suited for sticking into a snowbank to chill, and where "too cold" never applies. When you crack the lid on one of these icy winter lagers and take your first sip, the warmth stretches all the way to your toes and sub zero temperatures are forgotten.
New Belgium's Accumulation is an outlier in this group. As a White IPA, it's a wheat beer seasoned with Belgian yeast and just the right amount of hops. Pouring it into your glass, it looks like champagne.
When you take your first sniff, it's like slicing open a sweet ruby red grapefruit. There's very little of the bitter, sharp citrus some of the stronger IPAs have. Accumulation reminds me of Peak Organic's softer, refreshing IPA style.
Sipping Accumulation is like crushing the pulpy sweet fibers of a fresh ruby red in your mouth. It is thirst quenching, and then some. The hops are softened and balanced by the wheat, leaving me both satisfied and wanting more as I reach the bottom of the glass.
Accumulation White India Pale Ale is yet another reason New Belgium is one of my favorite breweries. Even if you don't like IPAs, it's worth a try this holiday season. I'm guessing it won't be around past December. That leaves a two month window to get your fill. If I can brave these sub-70 temperatures and make it to the store, I'll be huddled up under a blanket sipping some here in L.A. I suggest you do the same.
Tasting Notes: Nose: Sweet ruby red grapefruit, hops. Taste: Sweet ruby red grapefruit, hops softened by wheat and Belgian yeast.
After a few cloudy, rainy, and especially humid days here in L.A., summer is officially back in session with blue skies and an invigorating new beer from one of my favorite breweries. The New Belgium Long Table Farmhouse Ale was originally slated to be released on August 10, but it is currently available at my local Trader Joe's. New Belgium is marketing this as a Fall beer, and I can see why. The Long Table Farmhouse Ale packs a walloping fruity, spicy, herbal punch, with Belgian overtones that are impossible to miss in both the smell and taste.
Farmhouse ales (also called "saisons") like Long Table originate in Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium. They were brewed in the cooler off season on the farm, then served to farmhands during the hot summer months. For more on farmhouse ales, click here. And for more on New Belgium Brewing Company (where, if I lived in Colorado, I would be applying for a job), click here.
Long Table Farmhouse Ale:
Nose: Fruity, spicy, coriander. Taste: Just like it smells! Recommendation: Get out there and buy a six pack before this seasonal brew goes out of stock.
As if anyone needed proof that I'm not a beer and wine snob, when I first bought the New Belgium Portage Porter (try saying that ten times fast), I had forgotten what a porter was. I was expecting something more like a lager, or a pale ale.
On taking my first sip, I was shocked by a caramelly darkness that swirled and lingered on my tongue for several minutes. As I began to recover my senses, the aftertaste was similar to what you might expect after finishing a thick chocolate and peanut butter shake.
[[A porter is a nicely-hopped brown malt, developed in London in the 18th century.]]
New Belgium is one of my favorite breweries, and they've never let me down. You may recognize the name from their go to beer, Flat Tire. I'm also a fan of their Ranger IPA and Accumulation White IPA, and Snapshot Wheat Beer. Surprisingly, this Colorado company is the third largest craft brewery in the U.S. The brewery was started in 1989 when the founder, Jeff Lebesch, took a bike trip across Belgium and came back with a suitcase full of recipes and a head full of ideas. Belgian beers are my favorite, and New Belgium makes Belgians with a crisp American twist that is irresistible.
It all goes to show that you don't need to know what you are talking about to know what you like.
(If you're looking for a job, apply here. Seriously. New Belgium is 100% employee owned, and the benefits are intended to keep you happy. How does 18 vacation days sound? And an all expense paid trip to Belgium on your 5 year work anniversary?)
New Belgium Portage Porter:
Taste:Chocolate, fresh roasted coffee.
Fun Facts: 6% ABV, 187 calories, 38 IBU.
Available: January 2015
Recommendation: Buy it before it's too late, and enjoy it ice cold. I don't drink New Belgiums every day, but they are never far from my refrigerator.
If you still need convincing about how cool New Belgium is, watch this employee video: