European Beer, New World Hops

The only thing the two beers reviewed below have in common is that they are from countries where experiments with new world hops are a relatively recent development.

Should we pleased when Bel­gian and Ger­man brew­eries are inspired by Amer­i­can ‘craft beer’? We don’t think there’s any­thing wrong with it, as long as it’s about adding vari­ety, rather than part of intro­duc­ing an inva­sive species. Based on this expe­ri­ence, Bel­gium has more to wor­ry about on that front than Ger­many.

Braufactum Palor pale ale.

All mouth, no trousers

We picked up our bot­tle of Bra­u­fac­tum Palor pale ale (5.2% ABV, 750ml) for £2.50 from the bar­gain bin at the Nation­al Brew­ery Cen­tre in Bur­ton-upon-Trent gift shop, so it’s like­ly to be anoth­er cast-off from the Inter­na­tion­al Brew­ing Awards.

The pack­ag­ing was gor­geous: nice­ly tex­tured paper for the smart-look­ing label, an unusu­al­ly heavy bot­tle with a slinky shape… a bit too much, actu­al­ly, as if it is intend­ed as an exec­u­tive gift rather than a drink.

The beer itself (an after­thought?) smelled dis­tinct­ly soapy: we’d like to say corian­der leaves or Earl Grey tea, but, nope: soap. It had a cop­per-coin flavour we asso­ciate with Per­le hops, though it doesn’t con­tain that par­tic­u­lar vari­ety (it has Cas­cade and Polaris). A slight hard-tof­fee qual­i­ty also made us think more of a big, malty Fes­t­bier than, say, Sier­ra Neva­da Pale Ale.

Over­all, we have to con­clude that this is the worst of both worlds: the restraint of Ger­man beer with the rough-edges of some­thing brewed in a bath­tub.

 

Duvel Tripel Hop strong golden ale.

Duvel’s Brasher, Cooler Younger Brother

We bought Duv­el Tripel Hop 2013 (9.5% ABV, 330ml) from Noble Green Wines online at £3.59.

It is fun­da­men­tal­ly the Duv­el we know and love (very pale, high car­bon­a­tion, dan­ger­ous­ly drink­able) but even stronger, and dry-hopped with Sorachi Ace (2012 used Cit­ra) turn­ing up the daz­zle­ment a notch.

We don’t know Sorachi Ace well, but assume they were respon­si­ble for the weed­i­ness (as in drugs), the pass­ing hint of chives, and the fresh­ly-picked goose­ber­ry qual­i­ty, none of which are usu­al­ly present in Duv­el. Some peo­ple don’t like them, but we have absolute­ly no com­plaints.

Bright and raw-tast­ing, but sur­pris­ing­ly well-bal­anced, we con­clud­ed that Tripel Hop was damn near per­fect.