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01 September, 2015

A Sour, Boozy Blitzkrieg: Yuzu by New Belgium Brewing



I now go from imperial pilsner to imperial Berliner Weisse.

My bottle of New Belgium's Yuzu was packaged in June 2013. However, New Belgium also tells me that Yuzu is "Delicious now and differently delicious later." I'm not sure that they were thinking two years later but I feel better now for having let the bottle sit in my basement for a stretch.

Perhaps like me when I first saw the bottle in the store you are asking, "What is a yuzu?" The yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that has a tart flavor. New Belgium describes the taste as being a cross between grapefruit and orange. This was, as best as I can recall, my initial encounter with yuzu. On paper it sounds like pairing the venerable Japanese fruit with Germany's renowned sour wheat beer is a match made im Himmel.

Yuzu pours a light gold and is cloudy. This "Champagne of the North" from Colorado is as effervescent as all get out. My pour produced a big, foamy white head which was slow to dissipate. Furthermore there were bubbles galore forming at the bottom of my glass and then making their way upwards. With its light color and all those bubbles, Yuzu just looked like summer in a glass.

My nose first caught a lemony tartness from the Lactobacillus followed by a tropical fruit aroma. I can't really assign a specific fruit to it but it was sweet and rather sharp as opposed to being mellow and earthy. The aroma was just a generic tropical fruit smell kind of in the same way that Blue Moon ice cream is a generic fruit smell. You know it when you smell it. There was also a hint of grain in there, likely the wheat.

When I dared take a swig, I immediately tasted bread – the wheat – which was odd. A fruity tartness came next which I take to have been my introduction to the yuzu. It was moderately strong and not as sharp as the tartness one associates with Lactobacillius. Speaking of which, there was also some lemony tartness from the lacto. The carbonation was generous and full here lending a bit of dryness and, I would imagine, added to the overall tartness of the beer. A malty sweetness became more apparent as the beer warmed. Lastly I caught what I think of as medicinal flavor which is usually caused by a phenol of some ilk. I suppose I'd label this as an off flavor but it wasn't overpowering and it certainly didn't ruin the beer.

Yuzu finishes with some of that omnipresent tartness as well as an alcohol burn. There was just a smidgeon of some herbal/grassy hops there as well to dry it out.

At the end I was left with some fine Schaumhaftvermoegen on my glass and a bit of a buzz. Yuzu's light body belies its 8% A.B.V. Part of what made this beer so easy to drink was that it wasn't very sour. The Lactobacillus' flavor was rather restrained and I caught no funkiness from the brettanomyces that New Belgium notes as being in the brew. Not having drunk any Yuzu back in 2013 I am unsure if the restrained sourness here was simply the beer being differently delicious later or whether this was situation from the beginning. Either way I really enjoyed the tart citrus flavors that the yuzu brought to the table. I think they commingled with the malt to produce something a bit sweeter than the lacto sour and added a nice layer to the already complex elixir.

Junk food pairing: Yuzu is a big beer with some bold flavors so you'll need some equally complex junk food to go with it. I heartily recommend Flamin Hot Limón Cheetos dipped in guacamole. This will provide a hint of complementary citrus flavor but mostly you get a Maginot Line of mellow, creamy tasting fat, cheese, and fried cornmeal that dares Yuzu to penetrate it with its sour, boozy blitzkrieg.

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|| Palmer, 2:26 PM

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