New Belgium Brewing Company: 2 Below
I don’t like to shop. I need to have a carrot dangled in front of me in order to even get in a car and head in the general direction of a mall or department store. Typically that carrot is beer. Do I get to get to go to a liquor store? Fantastic. A good liquor store? Even better. Target doesn’t qualify as a good liquor store, or even a liquor store, but it has an aisle that I can wander and at least acts as a distraction from the buzzing overhead lighting and constant eyeball assault of red and happy imagery. We made this trip recently, and I was lured with the promise of a new coffee maker and beer. This is the way to my heart, friends.
I made a beeline through the store, careful not to make eye contact with any employees along the way so as to avoid questions or pursuit. I don’t expect surprises from a trip to the Target beer aisle. I know they’ll typically get seasonal beer releases before most liquor stores, which is alternately frustrating and appealing. Do I really want a winter beer at the end of October? It’s still autumn, for God’s sake.
And then I saw the logo. The unmistakable logo of my favorite winter seasonal release – 2 Below. It had been discontinued in 2011, and I was nothing short of heartbroken. 2 Below was the beer I drank while watching the Bears on Sunday and Kentucky basketball on weekdays. It is, to me, the perfect mass produced winter seasonal.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
New Belgium has been releasing previously discontinued seasonals as part of their Folly Packs, which is a brilliant idea that has since been replicated in part by other breweries. Including a rare or unique beer as part of variety packs has since been adopted by breweries like Odell and Boulevard, and it’s a great way to increase sales and foster interest. I wasn’t expecting to see 2 Below this soon. Previous Folly Packs included older seasonals, such as Springboard and Loft.
So I saw the logo and I freaked. I won’t deny that I hopped up and down like a Peanuts character. My “Charlie Brown dance,” if you will.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a refrigerated 12-pack, so my options were a.) continue to hop up and down near my freezer or b.) exercise patience and wait for the perfect night for the beer. My wife suggested this, because again, she knows the way to my heart. The forecast called for a huge temperature drop at the end of the week. Perfect.
So all this exposition, but what does the beer taste like?
- Aroma: The hops hit you first – Liberty and Sterling appear to be the most prevalent. It almost smells like a bigger Fat Tire, and the dry hopping process is definitely evident.
- Taste: Toasted malts and spices, almost peppery. Yet it’s pretty damn refreshing for a winter beer. Much of this is due to a good balance between the hops and the malts. The malts hit you initially and it has a nice clean hoppy finish.
- Aftertaste: This beer is a good example of a beer that pulls the trick of feeling warm. It’s definitely preferable to drink 2 Below when it’s cold outside, and I’m honestly not sure if it would be as effective of a beer in the summer months.
Look, the amazing joys that can be experienced while drinking beer are not limited to rare bomber releases or locating that long sought after regional beer. That definitely helps, but sometimes a 6-pack beer can accomplish this feat. Making you so damn happy that you acquired the taste for beer sometime in your 20s (or hell, teens – who knows) and abandoned the misguided belief that all beer tastes like Miller Lite. This is one of those beers for me. You won’t regret picking up a Folly Pack this winter, trust me.