New Holland Existential Ale

Sampled on tap in a tulip glass at Acadia Cafe, Minneapolis.

Rating: Love at First Sip

According to Rate Beer, Existential Ale is available in Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania; however, I purchased it in Minnesota, and have seen other New Holland beers here, as well.

Poured dark copper with orange hues. A one-finger head collapses to leave a thick, cream-colored coat of  lace on the glass.

Smells sweet, of caramel and ceareal malts, with a significant back-up of piny & citrusy hops. In short: delicious.

 The beer is a huge, huge burst of malty sweetness in my mouth, followed by some grapefruit and tangerine, and… what’s that? Blood orange? Just after the sweets comes a big burst of balancing, but not overdone, bitterness. Light fennel lurks in the finish. As the beer warms, more caramel comes out, accompanied by fresh bread and a hint of dark chocolate. With the warmth also comes significant alcohol flavor.

Medium body with low to moderate carbonation. Initially a pretty nice, somewhat chewy, mouthfeel, but becomes a little syrupy as it warms, and also brings a slight alcohol bite.

All in all, this is a fabulous beer. It’s big, satisfyingly malty and bitter enough to slow me down, but not so much in the end that I didn’t want more. The stickiness of the malt takes away a bit from the drinkability, but not substantially.

This beer is a good example of how styles collide. BeerAdvocate and Acadia both classify it as an imperial IPA. Rate Beer classifies it as a barley wine. Personally, I’m all-in with the barley wine classification, for the simple reason that the flavor profile is all barley wine, and in my opinion, too malt-heavy to be an imperial IPA. At 10.5% ABV, it’s certainly strong enough to be a barley wine, too!

Read BeerAdvocate reviews of this beer.
Read Rate Beer reviews of this beer.

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