Battle of The Belgian IPA’s: Raging Bitch vs. Verboten

What is it with the names of these two Pale Ales that use Belgian yeast?  Why do they have to be so contrary?  Raging Bitch sounds like a lady to be avoided (I could use names here but I don’t need that kind of heat!), and Verboten is German for “Forbidden.” Both names make it sound like these beers will be hard to warm up to.

As it turns out, one of these pale ales lives up to it’s name and is probably best left on the shelf, while the other is a sheep in wolves clothing.  

First up we have Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch IPA, which was created to celebrate the brewery’s 20th anniversary.  And what a great gift it is.  It’s features the grain bill of an American IPA that is then fermented with Belgian yeast.  The result is a 8.3% ABV ale that is bright, sweet and floral, with wonderful tones grapefruit up front, a nice sweet middle, and a bit of sour apple and orange rind on the finish, which is a dry and nicely bittered affair.  The alcohol is quite sneaky here, as it’s largely imperceptible, which can be dangerous in a beer this big. I’ve grown weary of Belgian beers, and I find IPA’s trying at times, but these two elements are married together so beautifully in this beer, even I cannot find fault.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Weyerbacher’s Verboten. I had just finished up a Raging Bitch and went to the beer fridge for something else, when my eyes fell upon a bottle of Verboten.  I’d had it a few times before, but never really connected with it.  Having just enjoyed the Raging Bitch, I thought the Belgian IPA pump was primed and it was the perfect time to fall in love with Weyerbacher’s take on a Belgian Pale Ale. Boy, was I wrong!

Verboten, which used to be called “Zotten,” is a 6% ABV Belgian Pale Ale that is bottle conditioned.  It looks good on paper and even better in a glass, with its hazy golden hue catching the light just right in my stemless wine vessel.  The nose was a bit of fruit, a bit of yeast and maybe (forgive me if this sounds fancy) a little fresh cut hay in the mix.  That’s okay, because I don’t mind a little of the barnyard funk that can come with some Belgian ales.

But what I do mind is metallic funk – the taste that put me off Belgian beers in the first place.  And Verboten (or as I should say Verbo”tin”) has it in spades.  After one good pull on the beer, it was as if I had licked a 9 volt battery, the taste of metal was so prominent on my palate.  I tried a few more sips before I gave up.  I switched to filtered water in order to cleanse my palate, and the metallic esters clung so powerfully that all I could taste was the pipe that delivered the water before it was filtered.  That’s a pretty powerful funk.

So in the battle of the Belgian IPA’s, there’s really no contest.  Raging Bitch is a delightful beer that really showcases what Flying Dog can do when they decide to go big (which isn’t often enough in my book) and Verboten pushes all of my buttons, but in the wrong way.

As many of you know, Weyerbacher brews some of my favorite beers, and I’m a fan of most everything they do.  But I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to Belgian beers with metallic esters, and so Verboten will be “Forbidden” in my beer fridge from now on.

Instead, I’ll be cuddling up with a Raging Bitch, which won’t be the first time,  Just ask my buddies from college. 😉

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Categories: Beer, review


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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14 Comments on “Battle of The Belgian IPA’s: Raging Bitch vs. Verboten”

  1. Rob Crozier
    September 13, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    I’ve had both of these beers as well and couldn’t agree more – I wanted to like Verboten but just couldn’t. Its a been a while so I can’t recall exactly what it was I didn’t like about it but I gave away the rest of the bottles after I tried 2. Raging Bitch was great and will buy again.

    • September 13, 2010 at 11:32 am #

      Yeah, I’ve been slowly working through a sixer of verboten for a couple of months now – I just haven’t been able to get into it and now I know why. The raging bitch was for our “bitch session” podcast, and I’m glad I picked it up, as I’m really enjoying it, even if I’m weary of Belgian yeast. It’s a very good beer.

  2. Don
    September 13, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    Good save Jim! College buddies are like that! Sounds like I need to get some Raging Bitch. Brewforia has a couple of the Flying dog brews, but it is their pedestrian stuff so I haven’t gone there. If they get this one I will have to get it.

    • September 13, 2010 at 11:32 am #

      It’s worth looking for, especially if you like Belgian IPAs.

    • September 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

      I thought Don hasn’t met a Belgain IPA he’s liked. Didn’t he call them ” Frankenstein beers,” or something to that effect?

      While I wouldn’t go that far, this style often throws me at first sip. Largely because hops aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Belgian-style beers. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on the Raging Bitch and give it a swirl, though. I’m intrigued.

      • September 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

        They best thing about the Raging Bitch is that it isn’t so “Belgainy” which is exactly why I enjoyed it.

      • Don
        September 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

        I hated Cali-Belgique. I probably always will, but I don’t think it is the best representation of the style. That said, I would try the Raging Bitch as well as Devil Dog, and Victory’s Wild Devil. Just because Stone didn’t make a great one, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like any of the style. We’ll see.

  3. September 13, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    You know the weird thing? I loved the Verboten. I had it on draft, though… so I wonder if that is the difference. In fact, I found the Raging Bitch to be more metallic, though I enjoyed both beers.

    • September 13, 2010 at 11:35 am #

      Ha ha – beer is funny like that sometimes, Amie. It’s in the buds of the beholder I guess.

      Draft might make a difference with Verboten, as it’s bottle conditioned. Perhaps the little Belgian fellas in my bottle had too much free time on their hands. It might be a better beer fresh, and better still on tap.

      Also, I don’t remember liking Raging Bitch as much last year, so either my tastes have changed (which is quite possible) or it’s a little different this year.

  4. September 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Interesting way to describe the beer. Like licking a 9V battery? Strangely, I’ve done this so I know what you mean. I guess its better than tasting like band aids!

    • September 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

      Yes, the 9v taste is better than band aids, but not as nice as a good D Cell. I prefer Energizer, but Duracell will do in a pinch. 🙂

    • Don
      September 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

      I’ll bet you eat Paste too… 😉

      • September 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

        That magazine is delicious! You’d get that if you didn’t live in Idaho!


  1. “Raging Bitch” Ban Heats Up in Michigan « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - March 29, 2011

    […] Flying Dog is suing for the state to reverse its ban based on their First Amendment rights to free speech.  They are also seeking to recover damages for revenue lost because of the ban, which are likely substantial.  Raging Bitch has become the brewery’s best selling beer and for good reason, namely it’s awesome. […]

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