New Belgium arrives 

At long last! Here are some of the beers to look for.

Sometimes, the inability to get your hands on something makes you want it even more. In the case of New Belgium Brewing Company coming to Florida, the excitement is well-earned. The Fort Collins, Colo., brewery launched in 1991 and continues making a name for itself with excellent beer, a progressive business model, and a broad worldview.

New Belgium was recognized as one of Outside magazine’s “Best Places to Work” and one of the Wall Street Journal’s “Best Small Businesses.” The 100 percent employee-owned brewery is at the forefront of sustainability, drawing power from solar, wind and other renewables as well as recovering energy from the brewing process. Water is recycled on an enormous scale, and waste has been reduced to a near-95 percent level.

But at the end of the day, none of that really matters if the beer is not great, right? Well, I can assure you, there are no worries on that front. While most people are familiar with Fat Tire, the flagship Amber Ale from New Belgium, the complete line of beers is extensive and impressive. And now you will be able to enjoy them in Florida.

Ask your average Florida beer geeks to name one beer they wish they could get here, and chances are Fat Tire falls into the top five. The seemingly unassuming beer is loaded with biscuity malt, a soft sweetness, and a clean, fresh mouthfeel that begs for another taste. It is not surprising that this beer is so popular.

I'm a self-proclaimed hophead, which means the Ranger IPA is one of my favorite beers. It's bright and deliciously bitter, with a perfect blend of citrus, fruity and floral hops matched up with just the right amount of malt to support it all. At 6.5 percent ABV, it is easy to drink, and will not single-handedly knock you out for the count.

Clocking in at 8.5 percent ABV and 85 IBU, the Rampant Imperial IPA is a beer to be reckoned with. All kinds of citrus-peach bitterness will assail your senses, barely balanced with sweet malt, and finishing dry as a bone. It is simply delicious.

Brewed with dark malts and lager yeast, the 1554 surprised me. It's a rich, luscious brew with dark chocolatey notes, slight roasted bitterness, and hints of dark fruits. It pours a dark mahogany color with a tan head that lingers just a bit. It is very drinkable at 5.6 percent, and would be a delicious complement to a dark chocolate dessert or sweet fruit.

Trippel is Belgian-style ale brewed with coriander; this beer is effervescent and golden with a lovely white head. The aroma is clove, banana, and spices, and the flavor follows with a spicy, herbal taste. This is not a lightweight beer, either. The 7.8 percent ABV is apparent, and the warmth from the alcohol enhances the flavors on the tongue.

The Lips of Faith limited release series is something I am most excited about. The most recent small batch brews are Pluot, made with the plum-apricot hybrid, and Paardebloem, made with peach juice, grains of paradise, and dandelion greens. Both are unique, flavorful and potent. They come in at 10 percent (Pluot) and 9 percent (Paardebloem) ABV, respectively. New Belgium will release 22-ounce bottles of some of its core brands first — Fat Tire, Ranger, 1554 — along with seasonal and Lips of Faith offerings in July. Draft and 12-ounce packages will follow later in September.


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