Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Het Alternatief Bittere Waarheid (Bitter Truth)

Het Alternatief Bitter Truth

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Alternatief
Izegem, Belgium

Belgian IPA

10.00% ABV

Commercial Description:
Bitter Truth is a bitter beer blonde of 10 vol% alcohol.
This beer is certainly not the most bitter in the market. But perhaps the balance between bitter and aromas seduce you. 70 Despite the EBU is still easily drinkable beer. There were four types of hops added at four different times. A very strong beer for people with a strong personality. Unfiltered and with secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Colour 11 EBC. Bitterness 70 EBU. Style triple IPA.
(Translated From the Het Alternatief Website by Google Translator)

General Pricing:
11.2oz, 330ml bottle, ~$5.50 each

This is a continuation of my quest to try everything that 12 Percent Imports, imports. So far everything that I have had from 12 Percent has not only been good but exceptionable. This will be my third bier from this brewery. The Hik Blond was very good and the Piet-Agoras is an Outstanding Artisan Bier. I cannot wait to see what Piet Salomez does for a Belgian IPA. This should be interesting.

The bier pours a clear deep golden color with a very rich bright white head. This is highly carbonated with a tremendous amount of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

The nose is light with pilsner type malt aromas along with some yeasty notes. A gentle swirl of the glass produces the most unique floral hop aromas. This is beyond inviting; I can’t what to see what this taste like.

Wow, the subtle complexities are amazing. This is going to be difficult to explain. This bier is light, clean, crisp and refreshing. I’m having a hard time believing that this has 10 percent alcohol. The masking of the alcohol itself is most impressive. I have never had a 10 percent bier taste like it had the alcohol of a 6.8 percent Blonde. That alone is amazing. Sorry I have a lot of stuff ran through my head from that first sip. Let me attempt a better play by play.

The experience starts out with a light pilsner type malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by the most refreshing middle of the sip effervescence. The back-end is extremely easy to drink. There is another pleasant release of carbonation during the swallow that helps mask the alcohol and it masks the malt and hop flavors as well. This carbonation also enhances the refreshing aspect to this bier. Toward the end of the swallow into the finish you start to get the most pleasant hop complexity. There is nothing bitter, these hops dry with the most pleasant floral flavors; just outstanding. By the time you exhale in the finish is when you start to detect some alcohol. But once again it seems more like 6 to 8 percent not 10. There is not much of a final aftertaste. The finish is so dry there is not much of anything left over. There is however a slight lingering hop presence along with some sweetness that I assume is mostly from the alcohol and maybe a little from the malts.

Wow, what a phenomenal experience.

Another amazing thing that I can’t quite understand is how clear this bier is. According to the description this is unfiltered and bottled conditioned. This is amazingly clear. It will be interesting to see what is left on the bottom of the bottle.

I’m still trying to hold back the lees but the second glass was a bit more cloudy than the first.

The head on the bier is also impressive. It did diminish quite a bit from the first pour put left a nice thick protective layer over the top of the glass with impressive lacing. This second pour (half pour) also produced a rich bright white head.

I am also glad I chose a tulip glass for this experience. After having some of Piet’s other biers I assumed this one would also generate a nice creamy head and I wanted to capture that as much as possible. It is apparent that with this second pour the creaminess adds to the mouthfeel and smoothes out this experience.

All my reviews start out around 45 degrees. The bier fridge is at 40 and by the time I get the pictures taken and settle down to review it usually warms to around 45 or so. We are now at 63 degrees.

At this temperature you can start to sense the alcohol, well a little anyway. It still is never boozy, but you can taste the sweet alcohol in the finish.

It’s interesting that the head seems to be hanging around more with this smaller second pour than it did with the first large pour. I think the tremendous amount of carbonation rising up from the bottom of the glass helped to implode the head. Now since the bottle has been open for a while and it was such a smaller pour the head seemed much creamier and is sticking around longer. This lingering creamy head is definitely adding to the smoothness of this bier.

AHHH, that last sip was just exquisite. I know I did not do any justice to this in my feeble attempt to explain the experience. This was an amazing experience. 

The simple elegance, subtle complexity and artistry of this beer is beyond my ability to explain. If you get a chance to try this bier don’t waste it by drinking it. Take your time and savor every sip. Small nuances of complexity can be experienced with every sip if you take you time with it.

The Lees
Well this is one that I have to try the lees.
Wow, what a difference in the clarity. The lees are very dense, almost opaque and very intimidating.
What a contrast to the original bier.

I know I sound like a broken record with this but once again this is a perfect example on why you should not pour the lees into the bier.

The last few ounces of this bottle are drastically different from the rest. These lees are much more bitter. These flavors are not representative of anything that I tasted in the bier. The final aftertaste of the lees is very chalky, bitter and yeasty. The bitterness is not a hop bitterness either just a bitter unpleasantness. Well, that is unless you like the bitter funkiness of lees.

Final Thoughts
There is not much more to add to this. I’ve been babbling about this bier enough already.

I’m giving this an A+. This will be a candidate for an O, outstanding if I ever decide to add that to my rating system. The subtle complexities, unique hop presence and the masking of the alcohol make this one of the most pleasurable and unique biers that I have ever had. This truly is a phenomenal Artisan Bier.

I highly recommend this bier to anyone that likes the artistry and subtle complexity of the Belgians. However I do have two recommendations if you try this one. First of all take you time. If you rush throught this one you will miss out. Second, please save the lees and taste them separately if you like.

Know I can’t wait to try the Ambetanterik from this brewery. That’s chilling in the fridge for my next review.

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