Colorado may be the microbrewery and craft-brewery capitol of the United States. On a recent trip to Denver, I had the fortune of tasting beers from several breweries that, living in the Washington, DC area, I had never heard of before. These included Great Divide Brewing Company, Oskar Blues (try the Dale’s Pale Ale, hoppy goodness), and the Odelle Brewery Company. While all these beers were good, the highlight of the trip was a visit to the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins.
I also had the pleasure of visiting and taking a tour of the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO. For people east of the Mississippi River, you might not be familiar with this brewery. I was introduced to them on trips to the West Coast through their Fat Tire Amber. Fat Tire is an excellent mild amber colored beer that is a good representation of what the brewery makes. It is, however, not the best beer they have. In no particular order, here are the New Belgium beers I was able to try and my impression of each.
1554 – This is not your typical dark beer. While many dark beers can be bitter, 1554 is very smooth with a light chocolaty flavor. It matches well with beef and other game.
Sunshine Wheat – Wheat beers are very popular these days. New Belgium’s is a crisp, orange scented wheat beer that is not nearly as heavy as it competition. Easy to enjoy on a hot summer day.
Skinny Dip – The summer seasonal is has similar elements to wheat beers (citrus notes) but is lighter and perfect for a hot summer day. Not as hoppy as some of their other beers, this is a great complement to chicken or fish or it can easily be enjoyed alone.
Hoptober – If you love hops, this beer is for you. The fall seasonal beer is bright, hoppy and invokes a German beer garden and fall weather.
In addition to their regular and seasonal beers, New Belgium also makes small batch beers called “Lips of Faith.” Not always widely available, these beers are a special find if you happen upon a bar or liquor store that carries them. One I recommend is the Belgo IPA. It is a very hoppy beer that has some citrus notes with the traditional IPA flavors.
If you have a chance to visit the brewery or to try these or other beers made by New Belgium, I strongly recommend it. (Rating *****)
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