Gouden Carolus – Hopsinjoor

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor is a Belgian IPA. With an “IPA” you know there will be a strong hop presence. And being a Belgian ale, you know there will be a strong yeast character. Belgian IPA is a relatively new style of beer, and one that I am quite unfamiliar with. In general, Belgian beer drinkers do not drink Belgian IPAs as they find them too hoppy. Belgian beers are known for their strong alcohol and spicy yeast character, as opposed to the hops. But recently more and more Belgian brewers are creating IPAs for the American market. There are many American craft breweries that brew this style as well, but American brewers use American hops that are very different from European hop varieties. Hopsinjoor is brewed in Belgium, and is available in the Spring Release at the LCBO.

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor is a bright cloudy orange and pours with a ridiculously huge pillowy white head. It slowly settles to one finger leaving chunks of lace behind on the glass.
As with most Belgian ales, Hopsinjoor is bottle-conditioned (refermented in the bottle). This simply means that extra sugar and yeast were added at the time of bottling such that the beer will undergo a second fermentation in the bottle, which will carbonate the beer. This will result in sediment in your beer, but it’s just dormant yeast. There is nothing wrong with it, and I usually swirl the bottle near the end of pouring to incorporate that yeast back into the beer, and pour it into my glass. Mmmm. Hopsinjoor has some other “floaties” as well, which I’m pretty sure are hop particles, also harmless (and tasty!).

The aroma reminds me of a cross between a Belgian Triple and a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. There is a lot of yeast spiciness that has some cloves in it, as well as some fruity-ness, maybe lemon. But where Hopsinjour differs from these styles is in the amount of hops that are used. The aroma gives way to some earthy spiciness no doubt a result of the 4 different nobel hop varieties that are used. Goldings, Spalt, Saaz and Hallertau. Under all of this is some nice grassy pale malt as well.

Again, the flavor reminds me of a Golden Strong ale, but just upfront. Nice spicy yeast phenols and a sweet pale malt, but this is quickly taken over with a load of nobel hop flavor and bitterness, straight through to the aftertaste. The hops taste earthy and grassy, and (I have heard of this but never really noticed until now…) soapy. Sounds terrible, but it’s really nice actually. The finish is super dry and you are left with a nice bitterness and hop flavor until the next sip. The carbonation level is medium-high and the mouthfeel is pretty full. There is so much going on that I don’t noticed the 8% abv whatsoever.

There is no question that this is a well made beer, but at first I didn’t know how I felt about the style in general, and on top of that I’m more of a fan of American hops than European. But after a few sips I’ve decided that this really, really works and is one of the better new beers I’ve tried lately. Sometimes Belgian beers can overpower you with their sweetness, but the hops in this one really mitigate that sweetness and as a result it offers greater drinkability, at least for me. I’m guessing that this beer would turn off a lot of people, as it’s a bit challenging at the beginning. It really is worth a shot though. Grab one at the LCBO while supplies last! This is a special Spring Release and it could be years before it comes back, if ever!

Score: B+

- Jesse

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