Thursday, November 30, 2006

99 Bottles of Beer on the Blog - 2 Below Winter Ale

It's a beautiful, snowy night in Kansas City, and a fine time to pop open a winter ale. Tonight, it's 2 Below Winter Ale from the New Belgium Brewery.



Winter ales are a risky bunch. Too often, brewers dump the kitchen into the brewpot, and you wind up with orange peel, clove, cinnamon, molasses, cranberries and a host of other creative ingredients. There's nothing wrong with creative beers, but there's a reason that malt, hops, yeast and water are the quartet of quality quaffing. You just don't know what you're going to wind up with if you start tossing other stuff in.

New Belgium does the holidays right. Their 2 Below (there's a degree sign after the 2, but I don't know how to do that) Winter Ale is all crispness up front with a blast of piney hops, followed by a rich, toasty malt that tastes like browned biscuits. It tastes like a fuller version of their flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale, bolstered with a tremendous amount of hop flavor.

Hops in beer do two things - add bitterness and flavor. If you drink an American or India Pale Ale, you'll get the bitterness. With 2 Below, you get lots of the flavor, but only moderate bitterness. Usually, when you get this much hop flavor, you don't get to savor the malt.

I've had the classic holidays like Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, Boulevard's Nutcracker Ale and Anchor's Christmas Ale, but the absolute best is 2 Below Winter Ale. It's flawless.

7 Comments:

Anonymous T.Reason said...

It’s not as sweet as Fat Tire, is it? Might just have to give it a try. (Take care in that weather up there.)

12/01/2006 8:59 AM  
Anonymous ummm,beer said...

Samual Adams Winter brew is really good...probably lighter that the 2 below as you've described, haven't tried it yet. 2 Below is served on tap at Willie's Downtown.

12/31/2006 3:19 PM  
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