Local beer nerds have been atwitter for months over the long-anticipated arrival of beers from New Belgium Brewing in the DC market. In particular, there seemed to be a lot of curioristy about two newer beers in the brewery’s Lips of Faith big-bottle series, Clutch and Kick.
I like a lot of the beers I have tried from the Lips of Faith series and when I was at ChurchKey on Wednesday wanted to try one I had never had. They had the dark sour ale Clutch available which sounded very interesting, and so I gave it a try. The beer surprised me immediately by being more chocolately and less sour than I was expecting. There is a sour element which makes the beer brighter than many traditional American stouts, but it is very approachable even to those who do not consider themselves fans of more Flemish sour styles. As the beer warmed a little, I found it opened up and became a bit richer and more nuanced, so if you order it in a bar you might want to hold it in your hands for a bit before drinking.
Ultimately, Clutch is not my favorite of the New Belgium beers I have tried. I prefer the La Folie and the Le Fleur Misseur of the ones currently in production. Clutch is solid, but when I want a sour beer (and, really, I usually do) I want the sour quality to be more defining. I look forward to tasting the Kick sometime soon, but that cranberry-pumpkin beer in a bottle with jack o’ lanterns on the front feels a little more autumn than I am ready for right now while I squeeze the last bit out of summer. Ask me about Kick again in October and I will probably love it.
There will be a release party for the Clutch beer on Monday at Red Palace, notable because it will feature the Maryland-based band Clutch who collaborated on the creation of the beer. The New Belgium beers are available at a number of bars now and will be showing up on more menus and store shelves within the coming days. Currently, most places only have 22oz bottles, but smaller bottles and draft kegs will be their way over the fall.