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July 27, 2003

XX-Bitter

Beer of the Night


Label via the virtual Reinhard and his excellent mullet.

XX is reputedly the hoppiest beer in Belgium, and one of the hoppiest in the world. I found this surprising. Not that it's a bad beer in any way, and it certainly has the grapefruit pith taste I associate with hoppy beers. The XX just doesn't beat one over the head with that quality the way, say, Rogue Brewery's Brutal Bitter does.

Hops in beer are measured by IBUs, International Bittering Units, a system once only applied to ex-wives. Rogue's Brutal Bitter has an IBU of about 59. By most counts, the XX registers about a 65 on that scale, yet is overall a much smoother, more well put together beer than the Rogue. Mind you, Rogue Brewery is one of America's premier breweries, so this is high praise indeed.

Aside from the expected high level of bitterness, most reviews mention its very dry character, a resiny taste, and high carbonation/long lasting head. Descriptions of the fruit overtones are all over the place, variously described as either pear, pineapple, lemon, orange, or in one memorable case, Seville orange.

I'd go with a very light lemon, myself.

XX-Bitter is brewed by the Brouwerij De Ranke, which one would think is an actual brewery, but is just the company name of the two brewers who produce the beer. From the label:

The De Ranke brewery was founded by two good friends, Nino Bacelle and Guido Devos. Their story is a classic in Belgium, where the very best craft brewing usually begins as a passionately pursued hobby, not an occupation. For Nino and Guido, brewing is literally a weekend obsession. For a few hours on Friday and Saturday, every week, the marvelous turn of the century Deca brewery in West Flandres is turned over to the De Ranke brewers, who make small batches of what many consider the best specialty beers in all of Belgium. The beers are robust and flavorful, and famous for their massive hoppines, which comes from the bet Hallertau and Brewer's Gold varieties.

Now, how can one say no when a Guido is your brewer? Technically, I shouldn't have been able to find this beer in N.C., as it is 6.2% alcohol, and the legal limit in North Carolina is 6%. So I shan't be telling you where I bought it.

Not that anyone checks, as I've been told time and again. People are increasingly just ignoring the law, which is another reason to change it. There's no money for enforcement, and precious few enforcers as there is. When they do detect a violation of the law, something I've only heard of once in the last ten years, the bar is just told not to re-order that particular beer.

I will tell you where it can be bought over the Internet, though.

U.S. - John's Grocery - 750 ml bottle - $7.99
U.K. - BeerNetWork - 330 ml bottle - £1.75

Other Beer News
Because I know you're dying for it.

The founder of Pete's Wicked Ales is now making chocolates.

India's Cobra Beer has won a gold medal in the U.K.

New York State will now track every keg purchase in an attempt to crack down on underage drinking. Look for just across the border keg sales to skyrocket.

Kentucky and Preakness winner Funny Cide now has his own beer. No word on whether he makes it himself or not.

Posted by Bigwig at July 27, 2003 12:18 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

i have to go with guinness in your poll, but do you know anyone who's tried bare knuckle? just curious.

Posted by: tanya at July 27, 2003 02:09 AM

Damn you people for knowing nothing but Guinness! I don't want to be forced to drink that crap on the fishing trip! Somebody help me out with the Samuel Smith's or something.

Posted by: Kehaar at July 27, 2003 12:04 PM

Yes, Funny Cide does in fact make the beer himself. It's alternatively sold under the label "Miller Lite".

(subtle?)

Posted by: Dave at July 27, 2003 05:46 PM

Not subtle. Thematic.

Posted by: bigwig at July 27, 2003 07:33 PM
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