2° Below Winter Ale - New Belgium Brewing
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4.05/5 rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5
I, like most people, was introduced to New Belgium through Fat Tire. I started seeing it popping up more and more at chain restaurants and would occasionally select it over my old standby, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I thought it was better than most macrobrews I've tried and had a unique flavor but was nothing too spectacular. Then I tried their 1554, which I found to be pretty tasty but, again, nothing to write home about.
Then one day, I came home late and discovered a pint glass filled almost to the top with Fat Tire. It turned out that a friend of my girlfriend had taken a couple of sips but was apparently so blitzed from whatever they had been consuming prior to that that she couldn't go any further. The beer was at room temperature by then, but I am a firm believer in discouraging "alcohol abuse" (i.e. wasting beer) so, martyr that I am, I took it upon myself to finish the beer.
I took one sip and was amazed. It was flavorful. It had a distinctive nuttiness to it that I had never noticed before. It was remarkably smooth. It was all kinds of things that I had never noticed before in all the times past when it was delivered to me ice cold by well-intentioned but oblivious waiters.
A few days ago, I stopped by a local liquor store and saw half a dozen different kinds of New Belgium beer adorning one of the shelves. I was impressed by the distribution success, but I wanted to try a new brewery, so I passed them over.
Shortly thereafter, I read a post from fellow BA assurbanipaul explaining that as unimpressed as he was with New Belgium overall, their 2 below had rapidly become one of his favorites. I was convinced, and a couple of days later, I stopped by the same store for a sixer.
Into the Stone IRS tulip glass it went. Substantial head at first, but within a minute it was nothing but halo. The liquid beneath was somewhere between amber and gold (ok, so I'd make a lousy interior decorator), and was remarkably clean and entirely transparent save the surface.
The odor had a tangerine sweetness to it mixed with a bit of malt. It smelled refreshing. One taste confirmed to my palate what my nose had already understood; this is a refreshing brew. It was like drinking a Fat Tire, crisp with a nuttiness reminiscent of Humboldt's Hemp Ale, but with added citrus hops and perhaps a hint more alcohol (I haven't actually compared the ABV's to verify).
The mouthfeel going in was, for lack of a better term, calming--mellow carbonation, mellow alcohol, light body. The one beef I had here was that the nuttiness lingered on my tongue a bit too long and started to taste a bit stale and chalky--not too much, but enough to detract from an otherwise comforting experience (throw in a mild cheese and I'm sure the problem would be solved...to be determined).
Drinkability is a no-brainer. I could have downed the whole glass in a matter of minutes, but what a waste that would be. Flavorful, soothing, and refreshing, this brew could just as easily serve as a summer ale as a winter ale. Unfortunately, it's seasonal, which means I should probably go back for more before it runs out.
Serving type: bottle
11-30-2006 03:49:02 | More by instrumentality
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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 1,030 ratings.