May showers bring Belgian beer flowers

Spring is the saison for Belgian-style ales, in particular because the lighter, citrusy sweet flavors - which accompany many Belgian beer types -- go so well served cold after a warm, flower-fragranced day.

A couple of Colorado breweries have just released their seasonal Belgians, while a couple more are on their way.

Longmont's Left Hand Brewing Company has started serving its St. Vrain Tripel, which I sampled last weekend in Left Hand's tasting room (it's also available in 22-ounce bombers at liquor stores). Highly malted and highly alcoholic, the powerful, honey-sweet beer is definitely a break for Left Hand, which typically brews more mellow beers.

The beer is named after the mighty St. Vrain River - appearing more like an irrigation ditch as it slogs through a Longmont trailer park - that runs right behind the brewery. "To maximize authenticity," Left Hand's vice president of brewing operation, Joe Schiraldi, says in a press release, "the entire brewing staff shaved their heads and bathed in baptismal ecstasy on the banks of the St. Vrain."

Maybe, but a couple of employees I saw last weekend definitely had hair, and bathing in the St. Vrain would require at least five pints of St. Vrain Tripel.

On May 29, Great Divide Brewing Company will tap its Double Wit, which it calls a "more muscular take on the beloved white ales of Belgium. Unmalted wheat and Belgian malted barley give the beer a light body and straw hue, while coriander and curaçao provide the traditional notes of spice and light acidity."

This one will be available at the Great Divide Tap Room, 2201 Arapahoe Street, which has a new patio, and in 22-ounce bottles, but only through August 1.

And then there's Boulder-based Mountain Sun Pubs and Breweries, which is in the midst of a series of four Belgian-inspired releases, named for Plato's four cardinal virtues: Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude and Justice.

Mountain Sun owns two pubs in Boulder, the Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, at 1535 Pearl Street, and the Southern Sun Pub and Brewery, at 627 South Broadway, along with Denver's Vine Street Pub, at 1700 Vine Street. All three places will serve the four beers.

Temperance, tapped on May 4 in honor of the Vine Street Pub's first anniversary, is a lighter beer "inspired by the great beers of Belgium as well as the crisp hoppy pale ales of America," according to the brewery.

Prudence, released May 14, was brewed with "a heavy dose of Belgian Pilsner and Vienna malts, as well as sixty pounds of orange blossom honey. The floral sweetness provided by the honey balances with the spicy, dry finish of the Belgian yeast."

Next up is Fortitude, a classic Trippel, set to debut Monday, June 1. This doozy - it's over 9 percent alcohol -- should boast a deep golden color, a clean, dry finish and complex fruit and spice flavors contributed by the yeast.

And the final beer, Justice, will be available on Monday, June 22. "At approximately 9.5 percent alcohol by volume, this rich dark ale is one to be savored," the brewery explains. "With hints of dark fruit and raisins, and a deep mahogany color, Justice hits the tongue with a complex malt sweetness and finishes with champagne-like effervescence."

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