Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Belgium Brewing - Lips of Faith-Cascara Quad

Remember the infamous San Diego 4th of July firework show last year? In case you somehow didn't hear about San Diego's "Big Bay Boom," here's the video. Basically, instead of a 20 minute firework spectacle, San Diegans got an ear-shattering 15 seconds of thousands of fireworks exploding at the same time. When it was over, everyone looked around dumbfounded and asked: "Is that it?" Yesterday, the exact same thing happened...but in my mouth.

Within the last few weeks, New Belgium has released four Lips of Faith beers. In general, I'm a big fan of this series, so I usually try to give them all a shot. But four? Not to mention that one of those was the annual release of their awesome sour, La Folie. Heaven help me (and my wallet). I decided to kick things off with a new one that sounded interesting: Cascara Quad.

Cascara Quad is a new take on the Belgian Quadrupel style. It uses something I had never heard of before- coffee cherries. In South America (Bolivia in particular), there's a tea made from the dried berries (or cherries) of coffee plants. This tea is called cascara and was New Belgium's inspiration for this beer. In addition to the cascara, dates are added to a Belgian Quad base beer. Sounds pretty good, no? That's what I thought too.

Cascara pours a murky, almost dulled-looking brownish color. A huge and foamy tan-colored head forms immediately and left a ton of lace down the glass. Not only did the head look great, it released some really unique aromas. I got a pretty nice blend of sweet dark cherries and Belgian yeast. Some mild tobacco, clove and dark fruit aromas were present as well.

I really enjoyed the look and smell of this beer, so the taste really caught me off guard. As soon as it passes your lips, there's absolute chaos in your mouth. It's like none of the flavors in this beer could wait to impress your palate, so they all decided to gang tackle it at once. There's a sticky mass of Belgian yeast, tobacco, brown sugar, molasses, date and fig in here, but they all hit your taste buds at once, and then disappear as fast as they showed up. So what you get is a beer that hits you with all the flavor it has in the beginning, but leaves nothing for the middle or finish. After the initial tongue pummeling, all that was left was an unpleasant sourness that reminded me of grain husk and faded earthy hops. What a bummer.

For me, this beer was a miss. It showed a lot of promise, but sometimes crazy ingredients just don't work out. That said, I give major props to New Belgium for finding out about cascara and wanting to give this beer a shot. I may not buy this beer again, but I'm far from being turned off from the Lips of Faith series. Keep it up, New Belgium. But no more "Big Bay Booms" in my mouth, please.

Final Grade: C

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 116

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