An easy drinking intro into hybrid styles
A Review of Belgo IPA by New Belgium Brewing Co.
Posted on 1/22/2012 by Chops
Belgian style IPAs really confuse me as a better beer fan. There is nothing wrong with combining styles because the craft beer movement is all about exciting new experimentation. But, some styles are so thematically different that you have to imagine the hybrid was some sort of accidentally discovery. Such is the case when I come across a Belgian IPA. Belgians are remarkably thick and luscious brews that often have sweet and malty flavorings. IPAs are remarkably crisp and aggressive brews that often have citrus flavorings and a ton of hop bitterness. So when I find a brew like New Belgium's Belgo in my hands, my eyebrows scrunch together and I prepare for a bad experience.

In the glass, Belgo has a standard straw coloration that is more inline with lagers or pilsners. It could be a Belgian Blonde base, but it's always difficult to tell with hybrids. It came with a fluffy white head that liked to hang around for a while. I found the aroma to be a pleasant blend of Belgian yeasts and hops. It was surprisingly balanced and combined to form a mildly sweetened vibe. At this point my my eyebrows de-scrunched and I found myself looking forward to that first sip.

Much to my surprise, Belgo ended up being a very smooth and highly drinkable beer. To my palate, it tastes like a softened Belgian Dubbel with a crisp citrusy hop profile. Considering its overall character, there's very little about this beer that strikes me as an IPA. At best, it's a Belgian Pale with a few IPA-like traits. Oddly enough, Belgo is a great session version of the Belgian IPA style, but this isn't exactly a desirable quality. A Belgian IPA is a combination of two very strong beer styles, so you're expecting a great deal of intensity. Not so here, this beer is actually quite mild and pleasant. The finish is pretty clean and leaves a mild grapefruit-like aftertaste.

Overall, New Belgium's Belgo Belgian IPA is a pleasantly interesting brew. It's the first New Belgium brew I have come across that I would drink on a regular basis. It's not a great example of the Belgian IPA style, but it certainly deserves an audience. Novices can especially benefit from this beer as a delicate intro into two highly scrutinized styles. The sweeter notes might direct your interest towards Belgians, while the hops and citrus might steer you towards IPAs. Regardless, Belgo is an easy drinking introduction that can be enjoyed time and time again.

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Belgo IPA by New Belgium Brewing Co.
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