Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Belgium Blue Paddle review

New Belgium Blue PaddleSummertime is a good time for Pilsners. These days, not just any pilsner is going to satisfy me. I gave up the macro kind years ago. When I knew I'd be outside brewing beer in 98 degree heat last weekend, I chose to buy a local craft lager pilsner to cool me down as a change of pace. In this case, that pilsner was New Belgium Blue Paddle. I wanted something much less hoppy than an IPA but yet something that didn't remind me of chugging brew.

I had my first opportunity to taste Blue Paddle fresh at the brewery a couple years ago during a tour of the New Belgium brewhouse. It wasn't until now that I had the notion to "field test" the brew under summer heat field conditions. I chose to drink this beer cold fresh out of the fridge. After all, pilsners are supposed to be quaffed cold right?

I don't normally drink pilsners but I wanted something light, cold and refreshing and several steps above the common swill. Would Blue Paddle deliver?

Appearance:Blue Paddle filled the glass with a bright yellowish gold and a generous white head. The New Belgium glass seemed born for holding this drink. Lots of bubbles nucleating up from the bottom. The beer was quite clear - no haze or sediment was present - as a pilsner should be. The foam created a sticky lacing that clung fast to the glass and stayed throughout the entire session.

Aroma: I closed my eyes and took in several deep whiffs of this brew. I had some pre-conceptions of what lager pilsners smelt like but came away knowing this was no macro brew. Blue Paddle reminded me of a grassy field with a hint of citrus, almost wheat-like and perhaps with a hint of pepper. There were no heavy malts here, far from it. It smelled light and faintly hopped. Certainly was inviting on a hot day.

Mouthfeel: The bubbles and texture of this beer lent a rather creamy feel. Light yet not watery. The brew slid down easy and left a slight lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue.

Taste: Blue Paddle hit me up front with a notable yet modest bitterness that lasted from start to finish. Absent was the caramelized malt taste of darker brews, rather only the true raw malt taste was present. The beer slid down easy and easily quenched my thirst for something cool.

Pilsners have a way of going down easy and this one matched that expectation. At 4.8% ABV it was easy enough to go through a couple of these rather quickly. The taste was inviting, light and highly drinkable. It surprised me how well I enjoyed a pilsner like Blue Paddle having not had one in ages. I've had wheat beers more recently but I enjoyed this one just as much as those.

Overall: I was quite pleased with Blue Paddle. New Belgium made a full flavored lager that was the right choice for easing the heat of outdoor homebrewing during the Dog Days of Summer. Two of these were just right and left me with just enough of a light buzz to be enjoyable.

Now would I drink this in the Fall and Winter? I certainly wouldn't turn one down if offered, but I suspect that I'll leave my future purchases of this brew for the hotter months like July and August. New Belgium made a fine brew worthy of my interest. I'll give it a Thumbs Up but also noting that I have other several other styles that I have enjoyed more.

Related articles:
- New Belgium Mothership Wit review.
- Camping with Skinny Dip.
- New Belgium Mighty Arrow review.

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