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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Karma Chameleon

Ah, 1983. I was 9. Culture Club was taking America by storm- their first single, "Karma Chameleon" (off the Color By Numbers album) was roaring up the charts. It would spend 3 weeks at number in the US. And none of that, really,  has anything to do with this weeks beer- Avery Brewing's Karma Pale Ale. (Hey, if you give me a beer with a name that easily lends itself to an 80's music reference, I'm gonna go there folks. Every time)

After 3 weeks of "big beer" reviews, I decided I needed to give my palate a chance and start drinking some more typical ABV brews. A good friend suggested that I may be ruining my palate with the strong beers, and I read on 99 Bottles that the true test of a brewer is how well they can make a 5% ABV brew, as higher alcohol content can mask inferior flavors. This made sense to me, so off the liquor store I went...and I came home with....

Karma Pale Ale
Avery Brewing, Boulder Colorado
12 ounce bottle, 5.4% abv

This label describes this beer as a "Belgian Style Farmhouse ale". This required me to take a quick trip over to beer to look up "farmhouse style" ale. Basically, it means beer brewed in the winter to drink in the summer. Expect fruity and dry, an almost endangered style.

Newly educated on this new term, I poured the first beer.

This beer pours a beautiful amber/dark orange gold color, and gave a surprising two fingers of creamy head that dissipated quickly but still left a nice ring on the glass. Nose was full on Belgian- strong fruit, but not sweet. No other style stands out so profoundly to me as Belgian when it comes to smell. Mouthfeel is nice- a light, creamy texture on the tongue. Perfect level of carbonation. Taste is surprising- the typical Belgian fruit notes are very muted here. You definitely get some, but I can't say exactly what- maybe orange, something citrus is present, but very modest. I am usually turned off a bit by the strong character of most Belgians, but this one is great. Finish is smooth and dry, no bitterness at all.

This beer is perfectly balanced, superbly sessionable, and great for spring evenings on the deck watching the Sox take on the Yankees.

That all said, I'm not usually a big fan of Belgian style ales. Maybe I just haven't found the right one. But this is a great beginners Belgian. I did find the finish a bit dry, which isn't my preference, so I give it a 3 on a scale of 1-5.  But this is an extremely well made beer, so if Belgian ales are your thing, give it a shot.

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