Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Alpine Beer Company - Gouden Vallei
When we got there, the first thing I was struck by was how small the brewery was. A single large brew tank sits outside of the brewery while the remainder of the brew tanks sit inside the building itself. And it is NOT a large building. After seeing how small the brewery was, I came away really astonished at the amount of beers they're able to crank out. One of the other things that caught my eye as I was looking around the brewery was a bottle for sale that I had never heard of: Gouden Vallei. The description on the board listed it as a Belgian Pale Ale, which, to my knowledge, isn't a style that Alpine's ever made before. I decided to pick one up.
As it turns out, the beer is a collaboration with New Belgium that's a take on the Belgian Pale Ale style with one very significant new addition: pink peppercorns. The brewers used the peppercorns to both spice and dry hop the beer. Sounds pretty crazy. Let's see how it tastes.
Gouden Vallei ("Golden Valley" in Flemish) pours a beautiful golden color that seems to glow in the glass. There was a light touch of haze to the beer and it was capped by a thin tan head. The smell was truly unlike anything I've ever come across before. There was a huge dose of tropical fruit sweetness, mainly guava, at first, but then that gave way to smells I really didn't expect. At first, I picked up a ton of pine sap and resin that reminded me of a freshly cut Christmas tree. Then I started to get an aroma that was a touch medicinal and reminded me of gin. I don't have a lot of experience with pink peppercons, but I'm guessing that I was getting these smells from the use of them in the dry hopping process.
The taste was pretty similar to the smell and opened with a nice amount of mango sweetness. Then I picked out a touch of a flavor I can only describe as gin along with some piny hops. Before the gin flavor got too strong, a wave of caramel malts came along and overwhelmed it, leading to a smooth and sweet finish with just a touch of Belgian yeast. Overall, this was a really, really interesting beer. The pink peppercorns easily could have overwhelmed everything else in this beer, but they ended up working with the other elements of this beer remarkably well. If you're able to make it up to Alpine soon, make sure you don't leave without a bottle of this.
Final Grade: A-
Top 100 Beers Tasted: 37