Beer Review 0544: New Belgium Lips Of Faith Cigar City Collaboration Chile Beer
Late 2013 sees the release of a new Lips Of Faith beer from New Belgium, this time a collaboration with Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing. We haven’t reviewed anything from Cigar City as they are not distributed here in North Carolina, but we have reviewed several Lips Of Faith beers, a series that sees New Belgium step outside of the bounds of normality and produce some extreme beers.
New Belgium Brewing began production in 1991 after Jeff Lebesch biked through Europe and was inspired by all of the good beer over there. Upon returning, he started New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado; they became the first brewery to be powered by wind, showing they have an environmental conscience — and they offer ownership stake to anyone that has been employed by the brewery for one year. Jeff’s wife, Kim Jordan, is New Belgium’s CEO. She was the company’s first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer, and financial planner.
In this collaboration, New Belgium and Cigar City have created a beer with Belgian yeast and peppers — Anaheim and Marash, specifically. There are plenty of hops, employing six different varieties (Centennial, Cascade, Simcoe, Pacific Jade, Wakatu, and Target), and the beer is aged on spanish cedar spirals, a nod to Cigar City, who produce some beers aged on the wood. Also, cigar boxes are typically made of spanish cedar. The ABV (alcohol by volume) comes in at 8.5%, and the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) peg out at 50.
The pour produced an average size, creamy head that was built to last. After a few minutes, it began to fade, immediately leaving some nice initial lacing stuck to the glass. Color of the beer was a dark golden, verging on orange, and it had a clear body, free of particles and sediment. Back to the lacing: as I sipped, it left solid thin sheets. This is a nice looking beer.
On the nose, we’ve got quite an interesting set of scents, leading off with grapefruit and light tropical fruits that mix with earthy Belgian yeast. There’s some pink bubblegum and the peppers are represented, not in spice, but in fresh garden/earth. The malt bill is light, only featuring some biscuit malt and some graininess, while the hops are expansive and continue to deliver different flavors, like lemon, lime, and orange peel. There’s just a touch of booze here, but the overall picture is about how the hops and yeast play together.
Best way to describe how this beer tastes: I think it’s going through an identity crisis. There’s orange peel and lemons up front, transitioning to a note of the garden peppers (like a bell pepper, not spicy) with touches of bubblegum and sweet grain. Then, the finish starts up with light tropical fruits; some mango and tart peaches. Enter the spanish cedar, which is subtle at first, balancing out some of the hop sweetness, but it turns quite bitter as you continue to sip, overstaying its welcome. This collaboration brew is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel. There isn’t really a pepper heat to be found here, but if you swish it around enough on your tongue, you get just an inkling of spice.
Well, I really wanted to love this beer, but the love just wasn’t there. It’s all over the place, and the loss of focus hurts. There’s so much going on that no one or particular group of flavor shines, and the heavily advertised elements (peppers and spanish cedar) just don’t hit all cylinders. That said, I did enjoy this, but it just lacks. I think they tried too hard!
New Belgium Lips Of Faith Cigar City Collaboration Chile Beer, 84 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.