Featured Contributor: Don Manfredi @
Belgian Style IPA’s – An Underappreciated Style?
It took me a few years to develop a taste for Belgian beers. The delay can be attributed to some inaccurate information provided to me when I was a beer “noob”. It all came down to a bad experience with a sour (full disclosure, I am still not a fan of sours) that was identified as the typical style of Belgian beer by a confident but under informed server. For a few years I passed on Belgian beers because I thought they were all soured (I know, sounds kind of ridiculous now, but we were all beginners once). One day a buddy gave me a home-brewed Tripel and I realized the error of my ways. Off I went after Belgian Singles, Dubbels, Tripels, Quadruples, Blondes, and Browns. Heck I even went after some Saisons. I was on a roll. Each time I drank another Belgian I kicked myself for all the years of enjoyment that I had missed. I had a lot of time to make up for and I went on an extended tour of Belgium without leaving Southeastern Michigan.
One afternoon I was at my local bottle shop looking for some new Belgian’s to try. Of course I had my eye out for other beer too, and went around the corner and saw some beers from Green Flash. I had drunk a few West Coast IPA’s from Green Flash when I was in Phoenix so I was pretty excited that they had started distributing in Michigan. I bought one of each of their beers on the shelf. One of the beers I picked up was named Le Freak. I looked at the label and noticed the words “Belgian Tripel” and “IPA”. I thought “I like Belgian Tripels, and I like IPA’s, maybe this could be my peanut butter cup moment…” I was absolutely floored by this beer. All that floral Belgian goodness at the start followed by a hop wallop at the end, I was in heaven. Now I am a zealot for anything resembling a Belgo-IPA style and want to preach the good news of the Belgian Style IPA. If you have not tried one, here are my top 5:
- Short’s Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster – Technically this is a Belgian Style DIPA but it still heads my list. This one is a Specialty release by Short’s and usually arrives in fall (October on the 2015 release calendar) so when you see it, I recommend you stock up.
- Green Flash Le Freak – You can get this all year, everywhere. I have only seen it in 22 oz. bombers. This is a Tripel/IPA and it is amazing. You never forget your first…
- Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Wild – Another seasonal that is around in Aug-Oct. I have never had a bad beer from this brewery and this one is no exception.
- Clown Shoes Muffin Top – Year round in 22oz bombers. Don’t let Clown Shoe’s funny beer names and goofy art on their labels deter you, these folks make some great stuff.
- Urthel Hop-It – Hey, an actual one from Belgium made the list. I have only seen this in 4 packs and it is a little pricey, but I had to have one beer from Belgium on a list about Belgian beers.
There are several other honorable mention beers – Piraat Triple Hop, Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, Ommegang BPA, and Odd Side Ales Project Mayhem are all really worth a try.
If you have not already, go out and get yourself some of this Belgian style goodness. There are a lot of great choices out there that run the gamut from dry and crisp to sweet or bitter. It is great to experiment, and remember not to be like me and let one funky beer experience keep you from enjoying a whole countries’ worth of amazing beers.
Comfort is the direct enemy of growth.
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