Belgian Congo Pale Ale | Devils Backbone Brewing Company

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Belgian Congo Pale AleBelgian Congo Pale Ale
Very Good
Belgian Congo Pale AleBelgian Congo Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Virginia, United States

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 100
Photo of Treyliff
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- pours a slightly hazy golden-straw color with a small fizzy white head that reduces to a small layer skimming the top, no lace

S- lots of fruity notes up front; banana taffy, pineapple juice, mango, fruit smoothie. There is also some grassy hop notes mixed in with some sweet raisin-bready malt, very interesting

T- the fruity notes follow in flavor with a big mango and banana kick. There are some Belgian characteristic yeast flavors with some fruity, musty notes. The fruitiness continues throughout and finishes slightly sweet and astringent with lingers of dry tropical fruit and grassy hops

M- medium body with moderate carbonation, slightly foamy mouthfeel with a crisp finish

O- this used to be labeled as a Belgian pale ale, now a Belgian IPA. I don't think that it tastes like either, but whatever it is I really enjoyed it. Huge fruity flavors makes this on a beef that I will surely go back to

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Photo of Axnjxn
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. bottled on 3/14/2013

This has been changed to "The Congo" and is now a Belgian IPA at 7.5% ABV

Pours a brass color with a 1 inch white head. Nice looking pour. The smell is of VERY faint hops with a tad of sweetness on the end. Taste is not very hoppy at all. Orange upfront and I'm detecting citrus on the end of the swallow but it's quite faint. Medium bodied with low carbonation.

Overall this beer is just Okay. Not an IPA and not a Belgian pale ale. Not sure what this is honestly. I finished the glass but glad I only got a single. Won't be returning to this one.

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Photo of JayQue
3.47/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

OK beer. Nothing special. Hardly a Belgian IPA like it says on the label. Really nice clear, bright amber color with a fairly big bubbly white head....thicker and frothier on a hard pour. More like an IPA when it is cold, Some bitterness in the nose and taste. A fairly substantial alcohol bite as well. As the beer warms, there is more evidence of some sweetness (fruit) and a little Belgian yeast.

Mouthfeel is a little on the light side. More alcohol bite while cold....becomes more mellow as the beer warms.

Not bad, not great. I enjoyed it out of a chalice while barbequing.

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Photo of cyclonece09
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a cloudy red orange with a small white head. Smells of orange, fruit, and grain, very sweet profile. Tastes of balanced grain and slight citrus with orange dominating. Beer is carbonated correctly and goes down great for its light body. Overall a very good beer.

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Photo of Dave1999
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale yellow with very little head.

The smell is grapefruit, lemon and malts. It's actually very pleasant.

The taste is lemons with some bitterness, pretty light with a sweet finish which I'm guessing is the Belgian part.

The mouthfeel is light with medium carbonation.

Overall I wasn't that impressed, this beer is pretty weak and light. Drinks more like a pale ale, a better local Belgian ipa is raging bitch, much better.

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Photo of teromous
3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Transparent golden body with a good amount of small bubbles floating to a fluffy white head. Not much lacing to match the head.

S: Some apricot comes through, along with a little tangerine. There is a faint but unfortunate metallic scent back there. Otherwise it smells very nice.

T: It has an interesting taste. There's a light citrus bitter flavor up front, but nothing at the back of the palate. Very faint pine. I don't get any Belgian qualities from the beer at all. It's a pretty good pale ale, but there is no Belgian quality at all. A bit of alcohol flavor comes through after a few sips, and tends to stay in the forefront while finishing the beer. It's a bit off-putting for 6.5%.

M: Sipping the beer leaves the mouth a bit dry, but not completely. The beer is medium-bodied. It is very easy to drink. Light on bitterness, but a bit on the high-end for this style.

O: Overall it was a good pale ale, but I did not get any Belgian quality from it. I wouldn't really recommend it as a Belgian Pale Ale. Aside from this, the only real drawback is the boozy taste that lurks around at first, then dominates the flavors towards the end. I wouldn't be sore about drinking it again, but I wouldn't grab it off the shelf in a hurry.

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Photo of DaveBlack
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not sure if the new The Congo Belgian IPA is technically the same beer or not. In any case, the review goes here for the time being.

A: Honey-colored beer. Maybe 1/2 a finger of white, creamy head with a long retention and a lot of lacing.

S: Bready, biscuity, with some fruit and citrus notes. Not an overpowering aroma for such a potentially flavor packed beer.

T: bready at first, quickly followed by a hefty hit of woody hops. The typically Belgian yeast flavors are present, as well as a peppery phenol taste, and they almost compete against the flavor of the hops for the prominent flavor spot. That being said, they actually compliment each other fairly well, and the more I drink it the more I like it.

M: Moderate body with a healthy amount of carbonation.

O: Another good showing from DB. Flavorful, but readily drinkable. A nice balance between the styles, and surprisingly does not come off as a muddled mess like many cross-style brews do.

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Photo of Chaney
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First of all, this beer is now a Belgian IPA clocking in at 7.5%. Same artwork.

Served in a DC Brau tulip.

A: Poured about as clear as you can possibly get, with a solid gold flair and a soft white head. Beautiful beer!

S: I got the Belgian yeast strain but it wasn't in your face the way many in this style do (Raging Bitch, for example). Fresh clean linen, citrus, and marshmallow.

T: Nice flavor, a bit more on the sugary side as opposed to the citrus one, but since I'm hit or miss with the Belgian funk in an IPA setting, that suits me just fine. Again, I got that candy "Mallow Creme" quality. Interesting.

M: Like I said, this was sweet and Cream Ale-esque, but not too cloying. The lacing was only mildly splotchy.

O: I've yet to try a single Devil's Backbone brew I haven't liked, and this was no exception.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – Pours an amber color with a two finger white head. The head fades over about a two minute time frame to leave a good level of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell- The aroma is heaviest of a bready and doughy smell mixed with some fruity notes of a citrus and peach nature. Yeasty smells as well as well as a tiny bit of spice are also present in the nose but these are relatively light.

Taste – The taste begins with flavors of a bready taste with some fruity flavors of citrus. Mixed with these is a grapefruit hop taste. As the taste advances some yeasty flavors greet the tongue as well as some spice flavors of clove and cardamom. The yeasty and Belgian spice flavors stay throughout the taste, but remain forever relatively light. Some more herbal and grassy flavors come to the tongue at the end leaving a slightly bitter and biting off flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- The beer has a moderate level of creaminess and thickness with a carbonation level that is slightly below average. Both were OK for the flavors of the brew, but were really nothing too exceptional.

Overall – Nothing too special here. The taste was a bit off at the end and really it had nothing too great about it going on. Not one I would go to on occasion.

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Photo of Pinknuggets
3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle to HFS sniffer

A: orangey yellow that is essentially see thorough with a white head not going to lie it looks like Budweiser

S: There is a very light smell of the belgian yeast but other then that there is basically nothing there it smells like beer but nothing distinctive pretty disappointing

T:it has pale ale flavors I can taste the malt and there is a light amount of hop but not that much and there is Belgian yeast taste it is there but its seems like a totally separate taste from the rest of the beer. Its actually pretty weird the taste is there but its not integrated at all idk why it is really there.

M: Thin and watery kind of oily it has a crispness to it and it is light and drinkable but nothing special here

O: Well I got this as an extra so I can't be disappointed and it is drinkable for almost 7% abv but that is about the only upside as it is a yellow fizzy mess in all other regards, I'm not a fan.

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Photo of Brubaker
4.29/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- The beer is a rich looking yellow. lightly carbonated. Big pouring head that dissipates slowly. medium lacing. Clear

S- A nose-full of Belgian yeasts and fruity hops. Maybe some sweet. No alcohol. Good aroma strength.

T- More of the Belgian yeasts & hops but with a good balance of malts linking the two. A lingering pleasant hop finish. No alcohol so one can drink too much of this in a hurry. Lots of flavor.

M- Though its body is light it has a smooth character to it. The carbonation matches it to make a well balanced and good body.

O- I really enjoyed this beer. Could spend all day with it.

Would Drink
Would Buy
Might Make

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.05/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. Big thanks to SteveFinny for this.

3.0 A: Clear yellow orange color. Two fingers of frothy white head. Retention is just shy of average. A few random specs of lacing are left.

3.0 S: Super clean overall. Big grassiness and a light peachy fruitiness. Not much from the yeast, which is disappointing. Not bad, but boring.

3.0 T: Plenty of grassiness again with an herbal earthiness. Again, nothing from the yeast. Not bad, but nothing notable either.

3.5 M: Lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation with a light spritziness to it. Good enough here.

3.0 D: Not bad, but needs some more flavor.

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Photo of TechTriumph
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes on 05/20/12:
No freshness date; Poured in a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass.

A - Over an inch of white creamy head that recedes somewhat fast; Very pale gold in color and crystal clear in appearance; Decent showing of lacing around the glass

S - Aroma isn't too robust; Notes of herbs, spices, toasted wheat, and very subtle apricot, peach, and pineapple

T - Good bit of yeasty, fluffy biscuity taste here with accompanying spicy, herbal, and piney hop character; Similar to the nose, I taste cracked and toasted wheat with subtle hints of fruity character - lightly tart apricot, peach, pear, apple; There is some clean bitterness here, but it's pretty mild

M - Carbonation is above moderate; Medium bodied; Pretty crisp mouthfeel with a fairly dry finish

O - According to the Devils Backbone website, this beer is brewed like an IPA, but with a Belgian yeast strain. This certainly shows and influences the taste with the unmistakable presence of yeast, spice, herbs, and semi-tart light fruit flavors. However, I think the mouthfeel is the best aspect here with the ample carbonation and nice, crisp, and drying characteristics. No doubt an intriguing offering from Devils Backbone, I wouldn't mind enjoying a few more bottles over the course of the Summer.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 12oz bottle to Due South pint glass on 6/7/12
*From notes

A: Clean, fair golden in hue. A standard pour yields a 2.5 finger white head. Above average lacing and a sizable collar follow.

S: Candied European fruits. A touch of rustic pine forward hops and white grape must reveal themselves as the beer warms.

T: Up front it's a bit Belgian to be sure. The mid is pretty herbaceous. A good dose of resinous, dank hops are featured on the back.

M: This feels pretty damn great. Lots of medium bodied thickness and soft bubbles. Well done - maybe the highlight of the beer.

O: A solid summer offering, and one of a different ilk. I really appreciate the unique nature of this Belgian IPA, and I'm stoked DB broke the warm weather mold. Thumbs up.

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Photo of JEdmund
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lightly colored with its golden straw hue; ½” head that settles out, leaving little lacing

Awesome aroma! Both American hoppy and yeast fruitiness. Definite Belgian yeast characteristics.

Body has perfect carbonation, is light, and has a smooth texture

Flavor is very good, with a strong hope bite, a light and mostly neutral malt profile, and a good heaping of fruity/tangy Belgian yeast. Finishes dry and fairly clean. It seems the majority of the flavor is derived from the bittering hops and yeast, not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just not overtly screaming with American hop flavor—more of a solid bitterness complemented by the Belgian yeast.

Overall... I love it! Have not had many Belgian pale ales (more BIPAs), but Devils Backbone’s makes me wish more breweries were offering one. They did a nice job on this.

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Photo of bubseymour
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice pilsner appearance with 2 finger head. Lots of carbonation.

S - Very hoppy and citrusy.

T - Nicely flavored fruitiness with plenty of hops but no bitterness in finish. Slight taste of Belgian yeast

M - full bodied and pleasant

O - When in the mood for a nicely hopped American IPA (not sure about the Belgian Pale Ale description) with citrus sweetness this is a very good choice.

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Photo of KMcG
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: the pour was crystal clear golden yellow with about a finger of white head. There were strong bubble trails lifting off the glass bottom. The head fades quickly leaving a slight lace that eventually disappears.

S: Belgium yeast, grass, sweet lemon, apple, and a bit musty sort of like a saison.

T: apple, pear and banana begin on the palate. A bitterness comes through next that is lemony and slightly floral.

M: this is a good light to medium body pale ale. The Belgium yeast flavors come out strong. The carbonation is medium.

Overall, I'd look for this again.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent light yellow with a white head that left plenty of lacing.

S: Aroma of a belgian yeast strain, slightly grassy and citrusy with lemon rinds.

T: Great taste in here, slightly outdid the aroma and had a nice citrus flavor with grassy lemon citrus floral tastes mixing with belgian yeast and a light malt backbone. The malt could be a little more prominent, but it looks very light and refreshing; packing a punch on the abv and flavor sides.

M: Medium to light bodied, slightly sticky with moderate carbonation that is visible in my glass.

O: I enjoyed this, definitely a tasty beer inspired by belgian yeast and a healthy dosing of hops. First beer from this brewery and glad to have tried it.

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Photo of pinotboy007
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had it first on tap at their brewing facility in Lexington, VA, where we also came away with a 6-pack.

A-Clear gold w/solid carbonation and a modest, soapy cap that reduced to nothing after two minutes or so.

S-Wonderful mix of Band Aid, citrus, some Kiwi and yeast. Splendid!

T-Crisp with a nice Belgian funk in there that's quite nice along with the malt and a grassy citrus taste. (It was better on tap at the brewery.) This could be our go-to brew for the cooler this summer. It's 90+ degrees right now and this is going down nicely with some shrimp.

M-Some nice creaminess but still refreshing all the same.

O-Worthy of your money this summer. If you're near Lexington, VA pick up a growler's worth.

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Photo of Pencible
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a clear pale gold with a little white head.
S: It smelled like fresh peaches and apricots, with a little honey and grassy hops.
T: It tasted like grassy hops and unripe peaches, with a little honey and sour yeast. It had a clean and bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with lots of carbonation. Lively body.
D: This was a very nice Belgian Pale Ale. I loved the scent, and the taste was very nice too. The body was decent, and the finish was smooth, so it was easy to drink. Great crisp summer beer.

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Photo of tlazaroff
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Average aroma on this one. It has a moderate hop aroma of floral quality on top of a light malt base.

Belgian Congo Pale Ale looks like your classic APA. It's golden in color with a thin white head with lots of visible carbonation, but little lacing.

Tastes great though! Not like the aroma at all. I get pear and lemon predominately with a nice light toasted nut base of malt. Very tasty beer!

Overall I really like this. Mouthfeel is fair with a medium-light body and moderate carbonation. The almost 7% ABV makes this one that you must enjoy, and not gulp. Quite nice.

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Photo of MQ4188
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A surprising taste and body for a pale ale. Starts with a yeasty/ ester breath that washes through to an almost Maibock lager boldness. The finish is a hoppy boldness that is pleasant.

This one finishes with a dryness of a session ale. Don't let that fool you though. At an . Abv above 6.5, this is not your typical session beer.

Another solid release by Jason Oliver and crew at Devil's Backbone.

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Photo of Rukasu
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

There seems to be a bit of contention on the name of this beer, and I can understand the arguments of both sides. I get the brewer's unique revisionist justification of the naming, but at first glance of the carrier, could remind some of King Leopold's ghost and Joseph Conrad.

Purchased 6-pack following a tasting at Whole Foods Fair Lakes

A - Pale gold with a foamy, pure white head.

S - Musty fruitiness -- apple, pine, earth

T - Strong pine up front, sweet fruit soon follows. Mild hop sharpness and light tannins.

M - Drys the mouth out a bit, but still light. Bitterness fades pretty quickly.

O - Pleasant drinking beer and light enough and enjoyable to drink on a warm day. Not too overpowering on flavor and hops.

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Photo of jfmorey
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Whole Foods in Vienna

A bit weak looking, yellow but with a good white head and fine lacing

Smell is yeasty with a little citrus

Taste starts with plenty of funky Belgian yeast, with pine and grapefruit from the hops

Carbonation and mouthfeel are very good

Overall, refreshing with just enough Belgian character making this a more sessioable example of the style

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico during the Devil’s Backbone NoVA launch. Served in a taster glass. Pours a clear yellow-straw color with a nice fluffy white head and some nice ringy lacing on the way down. The nose carries some straw and hay plus some nice Belgian yeast alongside some tropical and citrus notes. Flavor gets a good bit of yeast spice along with some nice American hop components. Body is light and crisp with a dry finish. I’d have this one again for sure.

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Belgian Congo Pale Ale from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.78 out of 5 with 100 ratings