I'm so far behind on my American beer ticking it's just not funny. Not that there's anything funny about ticking, you understand: like serial killers we do it because we have to. It's a while since I've seen anything from Denver's Great Divide, but they're back on Irish shelves now with their Belgian style pale ale Belgica.
It's a style I have a lot of time for. You get the weight of a strong and sweet Belgian ale, a softness and gentle spice from the yeast and then some serious fun with the citric high-alpha hops. There are loads of examples from both Belgium and the US and they all emphasise different parts of the formula, so finding a new one is always interesting.
Alas, Belgica doesn't deliver where it counts. It's incredibly sweet, with a sticky, sickly aroma and a bitter sugary flavour. The C-hops have made it taste like orange barley sugar sweets. Cheap artificial ones. There's no proper malt backbone behind all this sweetness and fruit: a catastrophic oversight in a 7.2% ABV beer.
I should point out in its defence that the missus and I were tasting this alongside Flying Dog's Raging Bitch. I hoped it would be a fair comparison but it's really not. Raging Bitch remains the Belgianised American pale ale to beat.