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Black Tulip

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New Holland Brewing Co.
Holland, MI

Style: Abbey Tripel

Nigel’s Rating:
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Hello again friends, Nigel here with another official beer review. "My God, Nigel," you say, "you crank out review after review--is drinking craft beer all you ever do?" What the hell kind of dumb ass question is that? Of course I do other things. For starters, I sleep. Sleeping isn't drinking, but it is a vital part of the everyday life of a Beer Dork (we can't function properly without our 12 hours). I write about the beer I drink, so that's another thing I do. I mean, I'm generally drinking while I write, wich is y there be so many mitsakes, but what u gonna dO? I also have to go to the store and buy the craft beer, which means I have to spend an hour every day begging for change on the street corner in order to afford the sweet, sweet nectar that helps sustain Nigel. I never drink at work, so that's a very LOOONNG hour. I... uh... hmmmm. I guess that's pretty much it. It's hard out here for a Beer Dork, so I basically do what I can to get by, drink a lot, and hope that ya'll are either entertained or take pity on me and send me free stuff.

My latest review is for New Holland's Black Tulip Trippel Ale, a Belgian-inspired offering from a brewery that until now has largely disappointed me. I figured Black Tulip was appropriate given that today is February 13, which means its Valentine's Day Eve. Nigel believes that Valentine's Day should be declared a national day of mourning, although with our current administration, pretty much every day is a national day of mourning (easy, there--back off the politics!). Honestly now, are there that many men out there who are so lazy and pathetic as to need a specific day designated by the soulless terrorists at Hallmark and Disney to realize they should be kind to their significant others at various times during the year? C'mon chaps, if you can fork over 8 bucks for a six-pack of craft beer, you can probably make the occassional effort to buy a few flowers for your sugar mama. I can hear the collective groans already. "But Nigel, why spend that much money on flowers when they're gonna be dead in a week anyway?" Yeah, you're talking to the guy who just paid $7 for a bomber of Black Tulip, which was gone in less than 2 hours, and is well on its way through the sewer system. If it wasn't for you cheap, inconsiderate bastards, Nigel wouldn't have to suffer through the bullshit known as Valentine's Day, or worse, its evil cousin Sweetest Day. Think for yourselves, fellow Beer Dorks, don't let Hallmark do it for you. After all, if we were all robots who did whatever we were told all the time, we'd all be drinking Budweiser. Ugh.

Black Tulip is a rare venture by an American microbrewer into the world of traditional Belgian ales. While it does appear that more and more brewers are willing to experiment with these fine brews, it's still a work in progress, so any successful attempt is certainly a welcome sight. By no means is Black Tulip as good as an authentic Belgian, but it's close enough to get a thumbs up from Nigel. The beer pours a light golden brown, very foamy, with a thick white head that quickly settles, leaving a decent lace. The aroma is very strong. Like any Belgian, heavy fruitiness and spice dominate, with a mild hoppy undertone. Banana is by far the dominant smell in what is a very aromatic brew. The taste is very good, though not up to the lofty standards of its authentic Belgian counterparts. Banana again dominates, with a nice orange zest, and well spiced with cloves and coriander. There is also a noticeable sugary sweetness, which balances well with the tartness of the fruit and bitterness of the hops. The hop flavor is fairly detectable, but not overwhelming given the plethora of other flavors. The aftertaste is quite strong, typical for a beer with a good amount of body and complex flavor. My only complaints would be that the taste didn't quite live up to the aroma, and I noted a slight presence of alcohol, which I felt should have been shrouded by the presence of so many other flavors (though the abv is definitely high at 9%). Needless to say, Nigel would certainly recommend Black Tulip should you be in the mood for a taste of Belgium this Valentine's Day. And, if you're a single Beer Dork, a couple of bombers of this powerful ale will get you so messed up, you won't know what the hell day it is. Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on February 13, 2007.
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