What's New- New Belgium now in Nashville

2008 has brought some new and exciting beers to the Nashville beer scene. I take off my Fighting Illini hat to the distributors pulling in new brands, in spite of Tennessee's stupid beer laws. The newest brewery to be added to Nashville's portfolio is New Belgium Brewing based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. The current offerings are 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, Mothership Wit, and the famous Fat Tire- available in 22 ounce bottles. These beers are all under 6% and can be found at most beer stores and maybe a few supermarkets. So what is the skinny on these New Belgium beers? I will tell you.

Fat Tire (New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO)
Description: Amber Ale. ABV 5.3%

Smitty's Review: Casual or non-beer drinkers always return from Colorado with high praise for this beer. I predict it will be a big hit in Nashville. Pours pale amber orange with an off white head. Faint aroma of toasted malts and bread. Light to medium bodied with a thin texture. There are tame, perhaps muted flavors of caramel and biscuit, with a non-aggressive, balancing bitterness. Finish is short and clean. The is an ideal "gateway" beer for someone venturing into craft beer. What do I think? This beer is well done, but I personally do not find it very exciting. However, the neutrality of this beer should make it easy for food pairing.
Recommended Food Pairing: grilled meats, soft white cheese, bar food

Where To Buy:
Specialty beer stores (Midtown Wine and Spirits, Frugal MacDoogal) supermarkests (Publix), and Flying Saucer

1554 Enlightened Black Ale (New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO)
Description: Black Lager (labeled as a Black Ale) ABV 5.6%

Smitty's Review: Upon my first sip, I knew that this was not an Ale. More on that later. Pours a beautiful deep mahogany with a retentive light beige head. Chocolate and yeast nose with accents of citrus. Medium bodied but with a thin texture. Flavor of dark bread with hints of lime. Dry finish with flavor of cocoa powder and some slight acidity. Simple, enjoyable, and ideal for a hot weather dark beer. This has many similarities to a schwarzbier, which prompted me to do some investigating. This beer is fermented with lager yeast, but is not fermented at lager temperatures. Apparently New Belgium ran into a blue law problem in Texas, which would not allow them to use the word "lager" on the label. Since the beer was fermented at ale temperatures, they labeled this beer a black ale. I have a small problem with that. We are not in Texas, so I see no reason why the label can not be changed for Tennessee. There is a huge difference between ale and lager yeast. It's no different that a winery labeling a Cabernet as a Merlot. This beer is not an ale and it should not be labeled as one. Rant aside, this is solid beer and my favorite of the three.
Recommended Food Pairing: grilled meats, dark chocolate, white cheese

Where To Buy: Specialty beer stores (Midtown Wine and Spirits, Frugal MacDoogal) supermarkests (Publix), and Flying Saucer

Mothership Wit (New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO)
Description: Organic Witbier ABV 5.6%

Smitty's Review: Pours a cloudy yellow with an airy white head. Aroma of lemon and belgian yeast esters. Light bodied with a thin but refreshing texture. Flavor of pale light wheat malt with a strong orange peel presence and a nice balancing residual sweetness. Clean finish with some faint tartness and acidity. Not as aggressive in spice and body as other witbiers, but this works in it’s favor. A great thirst quenching, hot weather beer. Blue Moon drinkers, there is a new kid in town.
Recommended Food Pairing: fruit desserts (pie, cheesecake, apple crisp, etc.), soft sweet white cheeses, grapes, peaches, strawberries, vanilla ice cream.

Where To Buy:
Specialty beer stores (Midtown Wine and Spirits, Frugal MacDoogal) supermarkests (Publix), and Flying Saucer

5 comments:

diamondc said...

Gotta love those asinine Texas beer abv % labeling laws, but at least 'ale' sounds more appealing than 'malt liquor'.

Smitty said...

TN 6% laws are asinine as well, and other states like GA and NC are lifting the cap on beer. Back to the New Belgium label, would Texas have let them use "1554 Black Beer" instead? It may not sound as sophisticated, but at least it's honest. I guess I am beating a dead horse. Thanks for reading my blog!

diamondc said...

There's another law if the beer is 5% abv or less, then it can be called 'beer' .. anything else 'ale or 'malt liquor'.

If I'm not mistaken, most of these labels were used for taxing purposes. Now it just limits what beer gets approved or denied.

Smitty said...

I am not an expert on alcohol laws, but do you know if they would be allowed to correct the label for other states without jeopardizing their label in Texas? I do know that many breweries change their labels to satisfy state requirements.

diamondc said...

I'm kind of clueless on the logistics of printing those labels on the bottles. Probably is really cost prohibitive to have more than one!