Friday, June 12, 2009

Beer pick of the week: Belgica

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 7:35 PM

click to enlarge Great Divide Belgica
  • Great Divide Belgica

Belgian-style India Pale Ale

Great Divide Brewing Company

Denver, CO

7.2% ABV

Inspired by American experiments with hops, Belgian breweries have been turning out highly hopped versions of thier classic pale ales. U.S. brewers have returned the compliment with homages to Belgian styles. Belgica pours a crystal clear, golden yellow with a modest head that leaves sheets of Belgian lace on the sides of the glass. The aroma is full of sweet clove from the Belgian yeasts and floral hops, along with some melon and sour fruit. Sweet-tart white grape character leads the flavor profile, with biscuity, almost crackery, pilsner malts in the center, and a slowly-building hop bitterness in the finish. The hops are a blend of American and European varieties, but unlike some domestic takes on the style, the American hops are not intrusive. Instead, Great Divide relies on traditional German hop qualities that provide a crisp, dry palate with a hint of lemony tartness and peppery spice. This is not an IPA with some Belgian candi sugar and yeast added to pump up its pedigree, but an authentic Belgian pale ale that is aggressively hopped. Make no mistake, there's plenty of bitterness to balance the sweetness, but wine drinkers might find this to be a beer that makes them say, "This is beer? I thought I didn't like beer." Eminently drinkable, Belgica would pair beautifully with seafood, pungent cheeses, and creamy salads.

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