Beer Review 0106: New Belgium Dig

New Belgium, a brewery out of Fort Collins, Colorado, has released a new spring seasonal beer called Dig, a Pale Ale. This beer replaces Mighty Arrow, which used to be the spring release and was also a Pale Ale. As per a conversation I had with my local New Belgium rep, the brewery plans to phase out seasonal beers every two or three years and make something new. I like that; most breweries just release the same seasonal offerings over and over again. That’s nice if the beer is exceptional, but boring if it’s not.

Dig comes in at 5.6% ABV (alcohol by volume) and the side of the bottle emphasizes the hops used: Target, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Nugget, and Sorachi Ace. As this is a spring beer, this one is supposed to get you in the mood for warming weather, offering a fruity aroma and crisp taste.

Now, time for a moment of reflection about “seasonal” beers. Spring doesn’t start until the middle of March. I obtained this beer near the middle of January, almost a full two months before the season officially starts — I have held onto it until now to post a review. I think this is ridiculous, and I know there are lots of distribution factors that go into play. And New Belgium isn’t the only company releasing seasonal beers way too early, so I’m not just pointing a finger at them. But it’s nonsense to try and beat another company to the shelf with a seasonal beer. Honestly, I’m still in the mood for winter beers, because, well… it is winter.

Onto the review…

The pour gave an average size head, frothy in texture, and of lasting quality. The beer was a perfect amber, extremely clear and free of all particles or sediment. There were a few bits of nice lacing left behind.

The aromatics were heavy on the hops; in fact, quite hoppy for a pale ale. The hops were mostly grapefruit with a heavy grassy note, with some faint hints of tropical fruits and peaches. There really wasn’t anything else present, and while the hops were generally pleasant, the grassy funk tended to dominate and become a bit much as the drink warmed to room temperature.

Flavor-wise, Dig kicks off with a bitter grapefruit, transitions into some oranges and then hits the grass, suggesting some tropical fruit along the way. The finish is twangy with the grass fading and the grapefruit volume hitting high, smattering in a little lemon, and then a wave of moderate bitterness that almost turns malty. The mouthfeel was creamy.

I thought New Belgium’s newest seasonal to be surprisingly complex and earthy, very fitting of the transition into spring we’re about to experience. But the flavors were merely average, and the grassy notes were unappealing to me — in fact, they reminded me of a hot afternoon spent behind the push lawnmower, something I’m not looking forward to this year. If you see it, I suggest you try it, but I didn’t commit to more than one bottle and you might not, either…

New Belgium Dig, 84 points. Price: $1.49 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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