While I like to think there’s plenty of room for debate in this world, there are some universal truths that cannot be refuted. Saturdays are better than Sundays (irrefutable fact). Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever to live (irrefutable fact), and most notably, two is better than one (irrefutable fact). Especially when you’re talking about beer. So when New Belgium sent us two of their newest beers in the Lips of Faith series, I figured why not drink them both, back to back, and see what’s up. Two is better than one, right?
Both beers are kind of weird in a gender-bending sort of way. Eric’s Ale is probably the most anticipated release of the two. It’s billed as a sour for people who don’t like sours, and a fruit beer for people who don’t like fruit beers. And I get it. That’s pretty much a dead-on description. It’s a little bit sour without being overwhelmingly puckering, and has some sugary, fruity sweetness—but again, the sweetness is so understated, it’s actually tough to discern just what fruit is bouncing around inside the bottle. For the record, it’s a peach, but I don’t get a lot of peach here. And I’m from Georgia.
Eric’s Ale is really round around the edges, without being malty, which is a neat trick. If you can imagine an easy-drinking sour—this is it. It’s not even too imposing on the alcohol front, coming in at a reasonable 7%.
Then you have the Pear Ginger Beer, which is just as strange as the Eric’s Ale in its own right. First of all, don’t expect an actual “ginger beer” in the strictest sense of the term. This is an ale brewed with pear juice, lemon and ginger. It pours a light, hazy orange with a thin head and has the thin mouthfeel to follow. There’s plenty of pear upfront and then the ginger kicks in with some backend spice and a pleasant drying affect. The ginger lingers here, the way it should.
I like ginger and I like pears, and it should go without saying that I like beer. So, you put those three together and I’m gonna be pretty psyched. But I could’ve actually used a bit more pear in this beer. The more you drink it, the spicier it gets, while at the same time, the pear fades. And if you let it warm, forget about it—the beer becomes a one-note glass of ginger. I rarely say this when talking about beer, but I’d like some more sweetness here. Maybe instead of more pear, the beer could’ve used a fruit that’s a bit more assertive—something that could hold its ground against all that ginger.
While the beer was made to stand on its own, New Belgium also brewed it with beer cocktails in mind, and I think it’s distinct enough to hold its own in a cocktail glass.
Check out the video below for the Brown Betty, a summery bourbon cocktail with blackberries. Bourbon plus ginger plus fruit is bound to be good. That’s more math that you simply can’t refute.
City: Fort Collins, Colorado
Style: Fruit/ginger beer
Availability: Limited, bombers