REVIEW: Spring Blonde from New Belgium Brewing Company

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: New Belgium Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Style: Belgium Blonde Ale
ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 48
Appearance: Deep, Translucent Gold with Snow-White Foam
Aroma: Mild Lemon Zest, Grainy Yeast, Bread
Flavor: Malty Sweetness, Mild Bitterness
Availability: Spring Seasonal
Pairs With: Grilled Chicken, Creamy Pasta, Salmon Rigatoni

I am always ready to sample any new offering from New Belgium Brewery up in Fort Collins, Colorado. What’s not to love about this place; it is employee owned, run in a highly sustainable and environmentally ethical way, and they make some killer beer. Which are all reasons they made my list of American Breweries to visit.

Back a couple years ago Outside Magazine rated New Belgium the number one company to work for in their yearly “50 best places to work list.”

And, as if all that wasn’t enough, the employee “extra” that inspired this beer and, most likely, was a big factor in their ranking at the top of Outside’s list, is a spring biking trip to Belgium for all 5 year employees; a trip to see the companies roots, as it were. I’d have to say that’s quite the perk.

I love most of their beers (and sorely miss some of the ones they have discontinued), and a chance to try a new offering is hard to pass up, especially something they haven’t tried to brew yet, like a Belgian Blonde Ale.

“Yay, sing me spring in golden pond, and winter-masked memories of Belgian Blonde.”

The Pour and Aroma

This little lady pours a translucent gold, reminiscent of a wheat, but the color is deeper and bolder then the over-exposed pale of most wheat beers. The foam rises up from the golden depths on the pour and covers the top with a nice finger of rocky snow. Which incidentally reminded me that it was still winter and begs the question why New Belgium released this “new spring seasonal in early February? Maybe they got back from their Belgian bike ride, and just couldn’t wait. The aroma is a mild but refreshing mix. I catch hints of lemon zest and apple, overshadowed by grainy yeast and bread.

Mouth-feel and Taste

Spring Blonde from New Belgium Brewing Co.

The taste is summery… or in this case maybe springy should be the descriptor. It follows the aroma almost to the letter. There is some malt sweetness upfront pushed hard by high carbonation that signals my senses to the renewing and newness of the fast approaching warmer weather.

The bready-yeast profile is carried along throughout the front and middle of the taste, but drops away at the end leaving a nicely mild bitterness loitering on the back of the palate. This fades slowly, but a memory of it hangs on as a crispy, dry, almost tangy aftertaste settles over the mouth. The hop-to-malt balance is defiantly more malt forward, which goes along with the style.

Tasting Notes

New Belgium used Pale malt and a restrained use of Nugget hops to make not just a good beer but a pretty fair representation of the style. This popular beer style usually has a little more malty sweetness in the taste, boasts high carbonation, with fruity esters ranging from lemon through apple to pear, and the warming sensations that come with a higher ABV (between 6% and 7.5% for the style).

To my taste, Spring Blonde hits all these marks relatively well. It’s also a good style for a spring seasonal. It toes the line of a session beer with the extra weight of 6% ABV, and a slightly heavier mouthfeel giving it just the right character of this season of transition.

It’s not a “regular” session beer, much like spring is sort of summer, but not quite. The possibilities of some cooler days hang over the season, and this beer has just enough body and warming presence to be a pleasantly sippable balance to a slight drop in temperature.

I’m not much of a session drinking guy anyway, so finding a lighter beer that has some body, a trick or two in flavor, and can still quench a thirst is always a pleasure. Maybe it takes a bike ride through Belgium to inspire a beer that matches the season it was brewed for and can so easily “transition” between categories.

In the case of New Belgium Brewery and Spring Blonde that inspiring bike ride sure paid off.

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Jeff Flowers

About Author

Jeff Flowers has been a self-described beer geek for over a decade now. When he's not chasing his daughter around, you can usually find him drinking a fresh brew and wasting too much of his time on both Google+ & Twitter.

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