Friday, May 1, 2009

Tasting room notes from New Belgium

New Belgium BrewingHappy May everybody! I took a short hiatus from writing the last six days as work and family obligations have kept me way too busy lately. A couple weeks ago I had an opportunity to stop over at the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado and visit their tasting room. It had been a while since I had dropped by and I was interested in seeing what was new on tap. I was also wanting to talk with some of their web and Twitter team guys.

I went over to NBB after work one day and luckily the place wasn't too busy yet. Sometimes the New Belgium tasting room can be packed so the earlier you head over there the better. I took a seat on a stool at the bar and struck up a conversation with one of their friendly staffers.

What's nice about New Belgium's tasting room is that they offer up to 4 small tasters FREE from a menu of on-tap offerings. Sometimes you can ask for a sample of some of their special beers that don't appear on their menu. They have a few extra unlabeled taps for some of these brews.

I chose these beers to sample that day: 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, Abbey Grand Cru, Biere de Mars and finally a request for their La Folie. I've preveiously reviewed both the 1554 and the La Folie, so I won't bother to add anything more here other than to say they were as good as ever. Always worth a taste, particularly fresh on tap. Here's a few notes on the other two brews.

New Belgium beer menuBiere de Mars - New Belgium recently brought back this brew and is now part of their Lips of Faith series that they sell in 22oz bomber bottles. Biere de Mars is deemed as a Biere de Garde style. It poured a golden orange color and was a bit hazy in appearance. This one weighed in at 6.2% ABV. It's made with a wild Brettanomyces(or Brett) yeast and hence added a big of a funky almost sour taste. Biere de Mars was "earthy" and was very drinkable. I'd love to explore more of this brew.

Abbey Grand Cru - NBB's Abbey Grand Cru is a rich Belgian Strong Ale that weighed in over 9.5% ABV. It poured a mahogany color and had a rich malty flavor with a nice Belgiany yeast aroma. Good thing this was only a 4 ounce taster otherwise this one would have been plenty enough for me strength wise. It has a distinctive New Belgium feel to it that you'll recognize after trying many of their beers. This one is a winner.

During my samplings, my host and I started to discuss some of NBB's other beers. I was interested in Kevin's Ale, one of their employee invented Lips of Faith brews. While they were out of that brew, they did let me look at some of the ingredients for that beer. They brought over a bowl filled with Grains of Paradise, a tiny bead-like pepper spice that reminded me of nutmeg and pumpkin pie when crushed. What a wonderful smell.

I also got a chance to speak for about a 1/2 hour with two of NBB's web/Twitter team: Kurt and Aaron. Both of them work "upstairs" above the tasting room and manage the NBB web site as well and act as Twitter contacts for their business. I had an opportunity to help them out during a recent TV news story that was run about them and their use of Twitter. They've got a great hooks into the various social media sites out there and work hard to spread the good news about New Belgium Brewing.

The tasting got me thirsty so I picked up some 1554 Black Ale to take home (thanks Kurt and Aaron). I'm sure to return back to New Belgium's tasting room again soon as I'd love to explore more of their great brews - especially their La Folie which I can't get enough of. Love that sour sour funk and supporting my local brewery!

Related articles:
- Personal beer tour underway
- New Belgium revisited
- New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale review

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