Three brewers have come out with new India pale ales, always summer favorites with their light bodies, dry finishes, and ratched-up hop bitterness. But before we taste those, let's try a new Belgian strong ale. Although it's not associated with summer drinking, no one says you can't enjoy any beer you want, any time you want!
|Esser Beer is a strong Belgian-style ale |
(10% alcohol), sweet, fruity and spicy.
Esser is a strong ale in the Belgian style, the color of golden straw and with a small creamy head. The alcohol is very present in the aroma, along with caramel and peach/nectarine. Taste is sweet caramel, not unusual for a Belgian-style beer, but it's balanced by the fruity esters of the hops and the yeasty spice. The alcohol comes back on the exhale. (Try this sometime. The technical term is retronasal, and it's the way your nose catches all the aromas when you exhale after you swallow. This is an important component of what we call "taste.")
The body is full and creamy, with a bittersweet finish. My drinking partner Moshe found a quality of "lemon pie or creme brulee."
It's not easy to pull off a balanced beer of this strength, but Esser is just that. Don't gulp it down on a hot day, and don't have more than one. Enjoy this with spicy grilled and fried foods, rich cheeses and a sweet, non-chocolate cake.
Shapiro 2017 IPA
Every summer for the past three years, the Shapiro Brewery has been bringing out a seasonal India pale ale, brewed to the same recipe except for the hops. This year, they're using Simcoe, a proprietary hop from the U.S., known for its pungent, citrusy and piney aroma. (Read about last year's with Citra hops here.) The alcoholic content has remained 6.5% every year.
The Shapiro 2017 IPA pours out a clear reddish amber. In addition to the citrus, we got some aromas of tropical fruits, specifically passion fruit and mango. The taste is bitterer than the aroma suggests it might be, but it doesn't overpower the fruit and citrus flavors. Ripe mango remains predominant here as well.
In short, the Shapiros have once again brought out an excellent seasonal IPA -- balanced, mid-bitter, full of delicious fruit flavors.