New Belgium’s small-batch Lips of Faith series embraces a streak of daring experimentation, one that has long defined the more adventurous and curious corners of the craft brew scene. Each beer in this line uses an eclectic list of ingredients, from esoteric fruits to cooking spices to beers made with dandelion greens. Some—like their award-winning sour brown La Folie—have been heralded by some as the best beer that this famed brewery has ever produced. Others, however, may bring to mind a phrase that’s used in certain art and writing circles: If something succeeds, it’s never called an “experiment.”
How you feel about New Belgium’s Coconut Curry Hefeweizen will depend largely on how attracted you are to enjoying genuine spice in your beer. The beer, which was crafted in concert with famed homebrewer Remi Bonnart, boasts an exhaustive list of ingredients, from cinnamon to fenugreek to kaffir lime leaves. In short, there’s a lot going on here.
The beer pours an even golden color with a wisp of white head that quickly fades. The aromas evoke Thai green curry and a hint of coconut milk sweetness that strengthens as the glass warms. Surprisingly, the elements of coconut aren’t terribly noticeable on the tongue. Instead you get an explosive blast of earthy spice—cumin, coriander, cinnamon—followed by elements of hefeweizen’s fruity sweetness. Think ripe bananas, pineapple, and shadows of bubblegum, tempered by the spice to embark a flavor much like candied ginger. Then the cayenne takes hold, bold and distinct, building as you continue to sip, just as the heat builds as you eat a good curry. The boozy eight percent alcohol soothes the heat slightly, but the cayenne still lingers on your lips and prickles the tongue.
For me and another beer-tester, our curiosity was piqued, and then satisfied, after one glass. And our experience with this experiment didn’t inspire a return visit.
It should be noted as well that this beer is not designed to be paired with a Southeast Asian curry, even though the cool, crisp, and fruity nature of hefeweizens do compliment most hot and spicy food.
This is beer designed to drink in lieu of eating curry.
City: Fort Collins, Colorado
ABV: 8 percent
Availability: Limited Release