On Wednesday nights, I gather with some friends to drink beer and have a discussion loosely centered around spirituality.  It’s a “cell” group associated with Circle of Hope church.  Three weeks ago, we decided to try out the Foodery as a new location.  It actually wasn’t my idea, though I went along with it wholeheartedly.  As a result, I’ve been taking the opportunity to try some new beers each week.  (If you don’t know the Foodery, they have a ridiculously obscure and varied selection with over 875 beers)

This week I decided to try a pair of Belgian IPAs.  I started with Taras Boulba.  Brendan at the Memphis Taproom has been telling me to try this for some time, so when I saw it on the shelf I had to try it.  If only for the name (Thanks Carina, for turning me onto Gogol).  The second was a ‘t Smisje IPA+.  They are 2 very different beers, but with some very similar traits.  So lets compare and contrast.

Both beers poured a hazy gold, remarkably similar to a witbier. They both had a classic Belgian aroma, fruity and spicy. As soon as they hit the tongue though, it all changes. These beers are the driest things I’ve ever tasted. Its as if the brewers put nothing but bittering hops in, fermented it warm to get some yeasty phenols, and then let it sit till there was no residual sugar left at all. Actually, maybe that’s exactly what they did.

The Taras Boulba was lighter and very refreshing. I can see why Brendan said it was a perfect post bike ride beer. But please, not more than one! My puckering lips and parched palate can only take so much of this dry bitterness!  The t’ Smisje had more malt and body, and a head like lemon merangue pie.  At 10% ABV though, its definitely a sipper.

These pictures are terrible, I know.  They are from my phone, which should be able to take good pics, but doesn’t.  Neither these pics or these comments really do these beers justice.  They were wonderfully complex, and definitely deserve another tasting.  I’d love to see how the ‘t Smisje ages.