Monday, December 17, 2007

He's not mad, but he is hoppy

You'd think that a brewery called New Holland might be interested in creating variations on Dutch beers (lagers, Trappist ales, etc.), but the New Holland Brewing Co. of Holland, Michigan offers a wide variety of ales that seem to be more inspired by American and British brewing traditions than the Dutch.

For starters, lets look at one of my favorite New Holland beers; Mad Hatter Ale. Visually, it's an appealing ale. The white head on top of this deep golden ale settles to a fine layer of foam leaving bits of sticky lace on the sides of my glass. The Hatter is an intensely hopped ale (or India Pale Ale as some purist would say) that has a very floral aroma and a bright peppery, fruity (pineapple?) flavor enveloped in what tastes like a single pure malt. The finish is resiny hoppy and fairly memorable, with a bit of grapefruit and that pineapple again. A decent India Pale Ale for sure.


I visited the New Holland brewpub in downtown Holland back in June of 2004. A few years earlier I had visited the brewpub in its original location, adjacent to the brewery, in what seemed like a garage. It was kind of a care-free, hip location and I kind of missed its Bohemian feel when I finally checked out the new place which seemed more like a standard brewpub (kettles and other equipment on display, nice wood bar, dining room, etc.). The new place seemed to pay homage to the old by serving the beer in a mason jar with a handle. We happened to stop by the new brewpub during "Hatter Days", which featured (of course) Mad Hatter India Pale Ale served "hatterized" or served on draft and pushed through a water filter filled with whole leaf hops. Impressive. The picture above and to the left shows me admiring the contraption. We sampled some of the "hatterized" Hatter and it burst with some much soporific hops that it almost knocked me out.

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