Review by: Cory Smith
As you have read before in our post about the New Belgium Release Party, Ron and I were fortunate enough to be some of the first people in Ohio to try New Belgium beer that was served right here in the buckeye state. We had samples of Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, Trippel, and my favorite Accumulation. I left the event pining for the day when I could get Accumulation on tap, which, lucky for me, just so happened to be yesterday!
Accumulation, the winter seasonal offering from New Belgium, is a White IPA meaning that it is brewed using white wheat in the grain bill. It isn’t made to be a typical wheat beer (like a Blue Moon), nor is it made to be a wheat beer like a Hefeweizen with big banana and clove flavors. It is made to be a smooth drinking IPA, which is a flavor profile that sits right in my wheelhouse. New Belgium says that, ” Brewing a white IPA was not only a way to salute the white beauty falling from the sky, but a direct revolt to the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for winter.” With that as the battle cry for this beer, let’s have a look-see.
This was the first beer I’ve reviewed on this site that was poured directly from the tap. That shouldn’t change the look of the beer too much, but I think it does add a bit to the overall beauty of the beer. The glass is perfectly filled, poured to the brim with a snow-fall white head that laces perfectly as you sip it in. The beer itself is a mostly-clear, light straw colored ale. The slight cloudiness comes from the wheat, but it’s one of the clearest wheat beers I’ve ever seen. The carbonation escaped from etching in the bottom of the glass making this beer almost look alive; like it was breathing hop aromas into the world.
Speaking of hop aromas, Accumulation doesn’t disappoint there. It’s not a punch-you-in-the-face aroma, but it is balanced and delicate. Maybe it was because I was in a bar that it wasn’t overwhelmingly pungent (ambient aromas do that at times), but I don’t think this is a bad thing that the hops were lower than some other IPA’s I’ve had. It allowed me to dive deeper into the aroma, finding the notes of citrus, pine, fruit, lemon peel, and herbal spices. It’s obvious that these are American hops, with the strong fruity notes. In fact, Scott told me that this was made with my favorite hop: Amarillo. Amarillo hops add a great, unique, bitter-but-fruity-and-bright character that many hops just can’t achieve. Oh, and they smell amazing!
Accumulation is a medium bodied beer. It would be thin if it weren’t for the welcome creaminess that wheat adds to the body. As I could tell by looking at the bubbles, this is a highly carbonated beer. Some people don’t love highly carbonated beers, but I think it works very well with this style. The carbonation balances out the creaminess, and “scrubs” the hop oils and aromas from the beer itself which adds to the flavor profile.
The first thing I notice that sets this beer apart from the others is just how bright it is. Many IPA’s can be overly bitter, or cloyingly sweet, but Accumulation is balanced and almost light. It definitely has the hop presence of an IPA, but the biggest compliment of it’s drinkability is that it passes is the Kristin test. Kristin is Ron’s fiancee who likes about one out of every fifty beers we give her to try. She tried a sample of Accumulation, made no bitter beer face, and ordered a glass!
As I mentioned before, this is made with Amarillo hops which give it a grapefruit, lemon, and somewhat herbaceous flavor. It also has a decent hint of pine to it, making it the perfect beer for winter. I liken drinking this beer to smelling pine trees while skiing in the freshest powder you can find. It really is a great fit for the season.
The malt profile in this brew is almost non existent. It almost is there just to showcase the delicious hops. Sometimes IPA’s try to add a lot of sweetness to counteract the hop bitterness, but the malt just moves out of the way and allows the hops to be the true star of the show. The wheat acts like sandpaper, grinding out the roughness that hops can have leaving the finish clean and smooth.
With the risk of being redundant, I love this beer. Accumulation is a great beer to have on a cold snowy day, but would also be great to have any day of the year. It is bright, citrusy, hoppy, and impressively drinkable. It was my favorite of the offerings that New Belgium had, including their famous Fat Tire (which Ron will review soon). I’m going to give this beer a 94, A. If you are one of our Ohio readers, please keep an eye out for this, as well as all of the great brews that New Belgium has to offer. Get it on tap, in bottles, or however you can because winter won’t last for long! Ok, seemingly it will this year, but you now what I mean.