A couple of years ago Jim and I went to a Rare Beer tasting in Denver, as part of our trek we made to GABF in 2010. A pilgrimage we will surely need to make again…soon. The Pints for Prostates Rare Beer Tasting at the Wyncoop Brewery was by far the best event of our trip, and the beers there were amazing, and well worth the $75 price of admission. The year we went Sours were in vogue, and it seemed that every other table had something more sour and confused than the next.
We both came away from that experience proclaiming Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout a clear winner for us, and to be sure it was a good coffee stout, but since, I’ve had better. The beer that really captured my interest and took over my palate was the Lychee Tart that New Belgium was pouring. Ever since I tried it at that event I have compared all other sour beers to it, and frankly, in my mind, none of them came close to matching up. That is a hell of an impression a 3 ounce pour made.
About 5 months ago on this blog I got wind from a New Belgium Employee that the Tart Lychee was actually being produced and bottled in the Lips of Faith series. Ever since I have been thinking about this beautiful beer, and wondering whether I had blown it up in my head, or if I had remembered it properly and put it in its deserving place atop my sour palate.
Now Lychee fruit may not be too familiar to all of you, not until I show you this picture. Yes, it is the little obscure white fruity substance you can find on almost any Chinese Buffet right next to the canned peach slices, chocolate pudding, and the bananas with that funky red stuff on them. To me these little fruits taste like a cross between white grapes and pears. The Pears being more of a texture thing than a flavor description, but you definitely get grape and pear when you eat these little guys, and that flavor comes shining through in the beer in a spectacular way.
The reason I say in the title of this article that beauty is more than bottle deep, is because I think that the Lips of Faith series have some of the coolest bottle designs out there. This bottle doesn’t disappoint, it is perhaps their best done label to date, at least that is how I see it.
Not only is this beer beautiful on the outside, but it is also beautiful on the inside. Believe it or not I almost didn’t buy this bottle. See I had a taste of this beer off of the tap at a local pub, and I thought, Oh No, they cut the sole out of this beautiful beer. Kind of like the difference between a production version and a car show version of the same vehicle. The production versions are never as cool or sporty as what you see in the car shows.
Fear not, this is the exact same beer I was given at the Rare Beer Tasting. The only difference was temperature! See coming off the tap the beer was somewhere in the 40 degree range, far too cold for it to sparkle. When I got this bottle home and allowed the beer to warm up that grand tartness and fruity flavor shone through like a beacon in the night.
You can see this brew has a thin wispy head that didn’t stick around too long. The nose is amazing with the fruity and sour nature coming through fully. The flavor starts out like an average ale, in the middle you get this absolute GUSH of the lychee fruitiness that covers your entire palate, followed by an intense tartness that reminds me of sweet tarts. Then it all happily dances away and leaves you with a crisp and dry finish. You immediately want to take another sip to re-experience that flavor sensation. This beer is addicting!
For all you geeky types out there this beer is made with 56% ale aged in barrels and 44% ale brewed with Lychee and Cinnamon. It is a touch boozy for a sour at 7.5% ABV, but you can’t even taste it, well hidden and blended into the flavors of this brew. As for all the chemistry behind it, you’ll have to look it up, I prefer to think it comes from Chinese Lychee Magic.