OK, I admit it. As liberal as I am, I can be a traditionalist about certain things. Beer styles might be one of those. I have long preferred IPAs. As the saying goes I like my beer like my women, pale and bitter (this is a Carjo approved joke). So I had my reservations about Belgian IPAs.
It seemed like an attempt by brewers of Belgian styles to cash in on the IPA craze and I still think the style is in flux. But my thinking on it changed when I had Sierra Nevada’s Sleight of Hand – Band Camp #94 on tap about a month ago. It was an incredible brew, easily worthy of the 90 rating it gets on Beer Advocate. Complex, strong, well-blended with a strong finish.
I was in a liquor store in Williston last week, the only liquor store in that town that has a somewhat decent selection of micros. One of the guys that was working the shelves insisted that the Raging Bitch Belgian IPA was superior to even my beloved Bells Two Hearted Ale. I did not break a bottle over his head and call him a filthy blasphemer, so there’s that. And I did take a six of the Raging Bitch home.
First of all, taste is a subjective thing. Yes, it might be that to this young man’s fledgling taste buds, the Raging Bitch is the better beer. At least he wasn’t pushing Bud Light. But anyway, the Raging Bitch is pretty good. Sort of a Black Crowes to the Rolling Stones in comparing it to Two Hearted Ale, but it’s decent. Not as fine of a balance as the Sleight of Hand nor with as many nuances, but a decent attempt at a new style. I’ll enjoy finishing this six but it’s likely I won’t be rushing out to buy another.