Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Belgium Snow Day review

New Belgium Snow DayWho needs a snowstorm for an excuse to drink a winter seasonal? While New Belgium may be giving out glassware every time it snows at the brewery this season, I'm finding that their new winter seasonal, New Belgium Snow Day, is a beer that could actually be enjoyed even when the sun shines and we have 60 degree December days.

New Belgium has put several of their seasonal beers on hiatus this year and have introduced new beers as part of a new 2-year rotation scheme. Gone now is New Belgium's 2 Below Ale this year and Snow Day, a darker, hoppier winter brew (actually a Black IPA) has taken its place for 2011 and 2012. Several of my readers have expressed displeasure that their beloved winter seasonal had been upstaged. I for one love the opportunity to try something new and distinctively different than the other predecessor.

I felt Snow Day was meant to shake things up a bit. Dark replaced lighter. Hoppy replaced more spicy and malty. For you stats lovers, Snow Day weighed in at 6.2% ABV, has 55 IBUs and a total of 190 Calories. Would Snow Day be enough to calm the sadness of fans of 2 Below Ale. Let's try it out.

Appearance: New Belgium Snow Day poured dark brown with some ruby edges around the glass. There was a decent 2 to 3 finger light tan head that stuck around for quite a while. I love it when a beer has a thick head of foam that sticks around long enough to take pictures of - ya call me a beer photo geek. Snow Day is dark enough that I couldn't see through it in a globe glass except for a bit on the very edges. What I could see seemed well carbonated and non-cloudy.

Aroma: Right from the start, Snow Day's aroma reminded me of a Black IPA. It had a huge prominent hop nose, unlike any other New Belgium beer I've had recently. Normally, I get a trademark New Belgium yeasty smell when I open a bottle, but not from this one. This seems like a divergence for New Belgium, kinda like saying "We're not just a Belgian beer company". Thank goodness too. The combination of the 3 hops made for a pleasant spicy nose with a hint of citrus and floral. I could pick up some bread and nut from the malts and a hint of caramel. The hops, however, take center stage here, particularly the spicy Styrian Goldings.

Taste: Oh man, hoppy holidays indeed! That's definitely what this beer was saying to me. Snow Day started and finished with a big hop flavor mixed with a slightly roasted malt flavor and a hint of chocolate. The malts were a bit nutty, with just a hint of sweetness. This was a full bodied beer that I could almost chew. The hops stuck to my mouth and left a bitter finish. Nicely, however, I didn't mind that at all as I come to enjoy a good bitter dark IPA-like brew.

Snow Day offerOverall: Strangely enough, I paired this brew with a handful or two of pistachio nuts. The salted nutty flavor seemed to mix well with the nutty malts and bitter hops, although I found myself wanting to pair it with something a bit more spicy like Mexican food. I enjoyed Snow Day enough that I ended up having 2 bottles in one sitting.

While the beer may be more bitter than most winter seasonals, I come to find that Black IPAs are becoming one of my favorite styles in any season. So bring me the hops anytime - and Snow Day certainly did.

Now while some people are lamenting the absence of 2 Below ale this year, I say fear not. Sure, this isn't 2 Below and it's not meant to be. This is it's own unique entity. I for one enjoyed this beer more than I remember 2 Below, so I'm really not missing that one this year.

I'm glad that New Belgium is starting to make more hoppier styles of beer and being a darker version of that is something I'm enjoying a lot right now. This is a winter ale that isn't necessarily just for winter, but it's certainly not sticking around all year long. Thumbs enthusiastically up for Snow Day.

Video showing the pour of :

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Related articles:
- New Belgium releases Snow Day. (2011)
- 2-alarm fire hives New Belgium a scare. (2011)
- New Belgium Blue Paddle review.
- New Belgium VIP tasting highlights (Sept '11)
- Touring New Belgium's Liquid Center. (2009)

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