Okay, first off, I do not believe there is any such style as Belgian or Belgian-style IPA, and neither should you. Are there a bunch of beers being brewed in Belgium today that have been inspired by the high hopping rates employed by many US craft breweries? Yes, like Chouffe Houblon and Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor. Are they particularly popular? In the States, yes. Do they constitute a new style of beer? No, they do not.
All that said, there is a US-created style category that breweries from Stone to Great Divide to Microbrasserie Charlevoix and, yes, Karl Strauss are populating with blond, well-hopped and vaguely spicy-funky ales, sometimes called Belgian-style IPA. This is one of those beers.
On the nose, this copper-hued and 8.5% alcohol ale boasts a curious mix of deep fruitiness, spicy yeast and earthy, citrus-rind-ish hop, which when it all comes together reveals something approaching — I kid you not! — beef bouillon. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just an appealingly meaty way.
The taste begins with some nectar-like malty notes and perfumey citrus, kind of like what orange blossoms would taste like if they tasted the way you might imagine they do. (Are you with me?) That sweetness quickly gives way to a more potently citrus-edged bitterness, though, along with a peppery, anise-accented spiciness, all leading to a dryish and warmingly bitter finish.
Not the best beer I’ve tasted from this curious class, but also far from the worst. A little heavy-handed, perhaps, but a pleasant enough sipping beer on a sultry spring evening.
One response to “Tasted!: Karl Strauss Blackball Belgian-Style IPA”
That the BJCP and the American Brewers Association have a commercial interest in the explosion of “beer styles” seems clear (whether they are for or non-profit is beside the point – they have costs and need to earn money). My favourite is the “Trappist Quadrupel”. I’m sure the Trappists, as good Catholics, would be quite offended (if they paid any attention to the BJCP) if they were told they made four types of beer, rather than the holy trinity.
And then there’s the “Belgian Pale Ale.” I guess the BJCP thinks Belgian brewers have nothing better to do than try to duplicate British beer types. What’s next? Belgian Best Bitter?