Beer Review 0407: New Belgium Rolle Bolle Belgian Pale Ale

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Every couple of years, New Belgium (Fort Collins, Colorado) change up their seasonal offerings — this year, the summer seasonal is up, and the new offering is Rolle Bolle, a Belgian Pale Ale brewed with monk fruit and soursop.

So, if you’re like me, you’re wondering what monk fruit and soursop are. Monk fruit comes from a plant native to China; the fruit is 5-7 centimeters in diameter and is green-brownish in color, and contains an edible pulp inside. The pulp is 300 times sweeter than sugar and is used in China as a low-calorie sweetener and in medicine to treat diabetes and obesity.

Soursop is also a fruit, native to Central America, and is 20-30 centimeters long. The outside is prickly and the fruit can weigh up to 15 lbs. Its edible, white pulp is often used to make juice, candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.

Now, one final “what is that?” Rolle Bolle — it’s a Belgian yard game similar to bowling, played with stakes placed 30 feet apart. One would assume New Belgium figure this is the perfect brew to drink alongside Rolle Bolle.

School is over for today. On with the beer! Rolle Bolle is brewed with the aforementioned monk fruit and soursop; hops used are Cascade and Centennial; the malt bill contains oats, which is to add creaminess to the mouthfeel. There’s a conflicting ABV (alcohol by volume) — New Belgium’s website lists 5.2%, and the bottle says 5.5%, so I’m going with the bottle. IBUs (International Bitterness Units) are at 30.

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Release from bottle yielded a large, creamy and foamy head that would probably billow over top of the glass if you let it. Impressive suds — it lasts for a long time, atop a very pale, light, straw yellow colored beer. The body is exceptionally clear, with not a single trace of particles or sediment; lacing is fantastic, leaving both clumpy and thin sheets inside my glass.

On the nose, we’ve got very little to report. There’s lots of grass and grain, along with a touch of orange peel and lemon. Rolle Bolle smells very clean and, frankly, uninspiring. There’s a little bit of a dry white wine character, and as it warms, I noticed a bit of clove and a Belgian yeast-like scent, although this doesn’t seem to be brewed with that type of yeast strain.

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The taste follows the nose, but there’s actually a bit of body here to back it all up — notes of lemon, lemongrass, and a bit of orange open the taste to creamy grains. The finish is soft with plenty of grain, tart fruit, and a very light bitterness that serves to dry out the mouth and ready it for another sip. And another sip, you’ll want: this is a very quick drink. Light-bodied, the mouthfeel is light and foamy.

Rolle Bolle is pleasant and refreshing, which is just what New Belgium were after. Yep, I could see myself playing some kind of yard game and downing a few of these — however, the 5.5% ABV kind of makes it impossible to drink more than three or four without starting to feel the effects. Don’t expect to be challenged here, just refreshed. Disappointing in some ways, but exactly what I expected in others.

New Belgium Rolle Bolle Belgian Pale Ale, 76 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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