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New Belgium Tart Lychee: Beauty Is More Than Bottle Deep

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.

-Don

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26 Comments on “New Belgium Tart Lychee: Beauty Is More Than Bottle Deep”

  1. June 26, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    You should have had Jim get you a set of Spiegelau glasses for that beer to improve the head retention 😉

    In all seriousness, I’ve had this beer and really liked it. That Lips of Faith series is well named because I have nearly blind faith that I’ll like anything that comes from it.

    • Don
      June 26, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      I do like most of the beers that come from that series too, with the possible exception of the La Folie. Cant stand that stuff.

  2. June 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Just had that beer at the New Belgium brewery (a friend and I were making brewery rounds in Fort Collins during our cross country drive) I agree Don, it is a tasty beer, and possibly the best thing coming out of the whole brewery

    • Don
      June 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      You may be right about that. I had this beer beside a couple other sours, and it shone through as the best by a long shot, and for the cost (About 9$ a bomber) it seemed an amazing value too. It is truly a great brew.

  3. June 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    This is a great beer and one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I first had it several years ago when a New Belgium employee bought me a glass of it at a festival. I was blown away. But I’ll have to disagree with you on La Folie. That’s the finest beer they make, hands down. I got to attend their Sour Symposium a few weeks ago where I got to blend my own version of La Folie. Amazing experience. http://wp.me/p2ucmM-61

    • Don
      June 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      I think we will have to agree to disagree on La Folie. I have found that I am really not a fan of sour brown ales.

      • June 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

        Yeah, the definitely elicit a love/hate situation. I’m one of the lucky people who immediately fell in love with them. What do you think of gueze/lambic style sours? I guess the Tart Lychee would fall in that range. I honestly can’t wait for the NBB’s next release of La Terroir.

        • Don
          June 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

          I liked the La Terrior. I think I did a review of it somewhere here.

        • June 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

          I’ll search around and find it. thanks!

  4. splat8391
    June 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Glad to read this for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not a huge fan of sours in general, so I’m happy to have a recommendation for something really good to try. Hope I can find it.

    Second, I’m just glad there’s a New Belgium beer out there that I might enjoy. It’s always been one of those breweries I want to like, but just about the only beer I find in the east with any consistency is Fat Tire, which I think is just plain … plain. Hope some of that Lychee Magic makes its way east of the Mississippi.

    • Don
      June 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      New Belgium has kind of a funky distribution pattern where the east is concerned. Especially when we are talking about the Lips of Faith series, since it is brewed in smaller batches and way less frequently than Ranger or Fat Tire. I don’t think much of it makes its way too far east with the possible exception of Florida, where they are trying to do a big corporate push right now. Good luck, hope you can find some too. I can’t get any more now, because they have sold out their allotment. I hope this beer makes it into their regular brewing rotation, so I can look forward to it every year.

  5. June 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    But what does it rate one-to-ten on the gym sock scale? (ten being LeBron’s after Game 5)

    • June 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      Those are some “wine”-y socks….

      • June 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

        But its more of a balanced, friendly sour. It’s certainly no George Clinton and the P-Funk on the funky level.

    • Don
      June 27, 2012 at 12:55 am #

      Really no gym sockiness at all. I actually think you would like this beer Jim. You typically enjoy fruity beers, and this one really fits that bill. You should try it.

  6. June 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I too enjoy the Lips of Faith product line, but haven’t tried the Lychee Tart–sounds ‘fruitier’ than I generally like. But based on the fact that you and I have enjoyed many of the same beers in the past, I’m gonna give it a try.

    • Don
      June 27, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      Not sure if you would love this one Wayne, but it is definitely worth a try. Let me know what you think.

      • June 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

        Will do Don. I like to at least try new beers–if I don’t like ’em then I won’t buy ’em again. In this respect, I didn’t think I would enjoy the Blueball Porter from Intercourse Brewing (it contains blueberries), but was pleasantly surprised. Its a very well balanced beer.

  7. Rob
    June 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    Love the Tart Lychee. We ended up grabbing two sixtels of it for the Abbey. One’s on tap in our office right now, the other is waiting in the Cave of Wonders for just the right time. Also echo the disagreement about La Folie. I think it’s hands-down the best beer New Belgium makes, and am begging for a keg of next year’s.

    • Don
      June 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Too bad I can’t make it up for your grand opening Rob! Would love to be there, especially for the after party! Good Luck! Kill it tomorrow!

  8. June 28, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I can’t get anything from New Belgium in Florida…and it makes me so sad.

    • June 28, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Not even Fat Tire or Ranger?

      • June 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

        Nothing. So sad.
        It’s not even like Fat Tire is amazing… It’s a solid cheap beer that I don’t feel I need to hoard away from lesser beer snobs.

        I just miss it because I can’t have it.

        • Don
          June 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

          Some parts of Florida are getting spammed with New Belgium products, because they just entered into the state. I’m thinking they started distribution about 12 months ago, and I know that the Tampa area is getting their stuff. Might want to look around a bit, you might get lucky.

        • June 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

          THIS IS GREAT NEWS! I actually live near Tampa, so I’ll look into that! Thanks 🙂

  9. June 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I too am a huge fan of this beer. Matador (local Mexican food joint in south Fort Collins) actually had this on tap for $11 a pitcher. It was a bit strange with a burrito, but, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

    Don, did you get a chance to try NBB’s Kick? It was an excellent beer and I kick myself for not buying more.

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