Brew Blog: New Belgium Lips of Faith Super Cru

I thought I was writing about this beer a while back. Sort of. Though I can't find what I did with it, I really did have a paragraph or two written about New Belgium. If I remember correctly, it waxed nostalgic about the first party I went to that featured beer. One of my former Bookstop managers (who shall remain nameless, since she furnished alcohol to my underage self) introduced me to Fat Tire that night, and it was quickly cemented as one of my favorite beers.

New Belgium had fallen out of my favor for a long time, suffering from the lack of excitement that I cited in last week's review of a Sierra Nevada collab. Again, it's not that I didn't like New Belgium, it's just that I'm easily distracted by shiny things. New Belgium's Lips of Faith series is a shiny thing.

I've been favorably impressed by several beers in this series, representing the experimental, R&D branch of New Belgium. Unfortunately, Super Cru isn't really one of my favorites, but I applaud the effort to strike out and create something interesting. I have a bottle of La Folie Sour Brown Ale in my fridge, just begging me to drink it. I've heard good things, and will relay my thoughts to you sometime relatively soon. For now, we'll talk about Super Cru.

Super Cru pours a gradated bronze, its head fluffy from the pour, receding to a sudsy cap with a topography like a lumpy pillow.

The nose is heavily defined by malt. Fruit and spice play second fiddle, offering cider and clove elements, respectively. I figure the cider notes are an artifact both of Saison yeast and the addition of Asian Pear, and they're quite pleasant, offering a lighter counterpoint to the heady malt waft.

The flavor repeats the bass note of malt, which persists all the way through the finish. Slightly tart cider comes next, turning into fruit peel toward the end. With all that malt coupled with fruity notes, it tastes like it ought to come across sweet, yet it doesn't. No trace of hops, but they're doing their job in the background, balancing things out.

The finish offers some interesting herbal notes, reminiscent of the chlorophyll sting of carrot greens. As it warms, the slightest Saison funk comes in, adding some wet hay nuance to the herbal and vegetal element. Also, as it warms, it becomes a bit more saccharine in nature, coming across as just a bit cloying and making me a liar for my previous statement.

That closing sweetness is really the thing that holds this beer back, I think. That, and the too-shy Saison character. If it were funkier and drier, this would be a fine beer indeed. As it is, it feels more like a good idea whose execution just misses the mark. Still, I'm glad for the effort. One of the things I love most about beer is the near endless possibilities for experimentation. You have to love breweries that take that concept and run with it, even if some end up false starts.

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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall