Michael McGuire's picture

Judge's Review: 89 Rating - Southern Bel’ by Arches Brewing

February, 2018
Judges Rating: 
89
Aroma: 
21 / 24
Appearance: 
6 / 6
Flavor: 
35 / 40
Mouthfeel: 
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Southern Bel’ by Arches Brewing is a moderately dark Belgian-style ale judged as a Belgian Pale Ale – BJCP sub-style 24B – based on the description on the brewery’s website, which called it a “deep Belgian pale.” The can’s label “Belgian Ale” doesn’t give buyers much style information to entice them to try this unusual but interesting beer.

The sampled beer poured with a deep copper color and slightly cloudy into the glass where it settled with a moderate white head with only modest retention. The nose began malty sweet with toasted caramel notes and finished with just a faint trace of unidentifiable hops. The flavor profile followed the aroma’s lead with toffee and toasted caramel up front backed by some generic hop bitterness to balance. With a medium-full body the mouthfeel included a pleasant toffee sweetness and mild warmth coating the palate through a surprisingly dry finish. Overall this creative rendition of a Belgian ale packed plenty of unexpected flavors and aromas. In addition to the unique effects of Belgian yeast, the presumed grain bill and brewing techniques (e.g., possibly decoction mashing to produce or enhance the flavors noted above) suggest a hybrid between two or more traditional beer styles typically associated with Belgium and perhaps Germany. That said, drinkability was pleasurable with a perceived alcohol content held in check to highlight the beer’s complexity.

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