HOPPY BEERS are all the rage in the beer world today. The surge in interest in IPA’s is phenomenal. We are simply amazed at the level of interest for American craft beers in Belgium, and Belgian brewers have taken note, and started developing Hop-accentuated beers on their own. There are so many beers brewed now that are Belgian IPA’s or “Hoppy” beers, to list them all would need an entire multi-page website. Certainly a knowledgeable Belgian beer drinker knows of them, and where to find them in the marketplace! Since the BJCP does not provide a descriptive for a “Belgian Hoppy” style beer, we will provide their English IPA descriptive. The Belgian hoppy beers tend to be a bit softer on the palate than their American counterpart, paralleling somewhat to the English style IPA. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Belgian beer if the brewers did not put their own individual spin on their products!
Hoppy Beer Characteristics
AROMA / BOUQUET:
A moderate to moderately high hop aroma of floral, earthy or fruity nature is typical, although the intensity of hop character is usually lower than American versions. A slightly grassy dry-hop aroma is acceptable, but not required. A moderate caramel-like or toasty malt presence is common. Low to moderate fruitiness, either from esters or hops, can be present. Some versions may have a sulfury note, although this character is not mandatory.
Color ranges from golden amber to light copper, but most are pale to medium amber with an orange-ish tint. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Good head stand with off-white color should persist.
FLAVOR / TASTE:
Hop flavor is medium to high, with a moderate to assertive hop bitterness. The hop flavor should be similar to the aroma (floral, earthy, fruity, and/or slightly grassy). Malt flavor should be medium-low to medium-high, but should be noticeable, pleasant, and support the hop aspect. The malt should show an English character and be somewhat bready, biscuit-like, toasty, toffee-like and/or caramelly. Despite the substantial hop character typical of these beers, sufficient malt flavor, body and complexity to support the hops will provide the best balance. Very low levels of diacetyl are acceptable, and fruitiness from the fermentation or hops adds to the overall complexity. Finish is medium to dry, and bitterness may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. If high sulfate water is used, a distinctively minerally, dry finish, some sulfur flavor, and a lingering bitterness are usually present. Some clean alcohol flavor can be noted in stronger versions. Oak is inappropriate in this style.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Smooth, medium-light to medium-bodied mouthfeel without hop-derived astringency, although moderate to medium-high carbonation can combine to render an overall dry sensation in the presence of malt sweetness. Some smooth alcohol warming can and should be sensed in stronger (but not all) versions.
A hoppy, moderately strong pale ale that features characteristics consistent with the use of English malt, hops and yeast. Has less hop character and a more pronounced malt flavor than American versions.
RELATED HOPPY BEER BREWVIEWS:
May 27, 2016: DE RANKE XXX BITTER
August 10, 2015: BELLEROSE BIÈRE BLONDE EXTRA
November 3, 2014: B.O.M. BREWERY- TRIPORTEUR FROM HEAVEN
July 21, 2014: TROUBADOUR MAGMA TRIPEL IPA
November 4, 2013: PIRAAT PRIVATEER
October 11, 2013: BRASSERIE LEFEBVRE HOPUS
Hoppy beer characteristic descriptives from 2008 BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) style guidelines. (http://www.bjcp.org)