Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor

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Just as we Americans enjoy copying and modifying various English beer styles to create new brews all our own, so do our beer-loving friends in the Lowlands.  Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor is a Belgian take on a classing English-style IPA.  It is certainly a rather unique brew, pouring a cloudy yellow with a very enthusiastic, meringue-like head with herculean retentiveness.  In fact, even though I was pouring into a very large goblet, the head on this beer was so thick and foamy and large that I had to pour in stages.

I really did not know what to expect from this beer.  American IPAs are far bolder and more heavily-hopped than their English counterparts, and frequently with very fresh, bright hop flavors.  Before getting into the Hopsinjoor, I knew that Belgian beers frequently use aged hops, which mutes their flavors and relegates them to the background behind delightful combinations of other spices.  I tentatively sniffed the beer, picking up some faint hop aromas and a nice, fresh scent.  Then I sipped, and I sipped mostly head, because I had to get through a lot of that to get to the beer.

The head was overwhelmingly bitter.  Hop oils tend to be drawn out of a beer into the head, giving one a nice blast of whatever hoppiness awaits in the golden liquid below, and this head had an astounding bitter acidity that did not really bring to mind the clean, fresh hop flavor one gets from Oregon beer, for instance.  There was a tartness that reminded me of the flavors I expect from hop extract beers like Pliny the Elder, but without the pleasant citrus flavors.

Citrus did wait below, however.  The liquid part of the beer was nice and refreshing, with tart citrus notes and yeasty esthers that overpower the malt.  The carbonation had a remarkable effervescence, and overall I'd have to say that nothing in this beer reminded me of an English-style IPA.  Perhaps I'm being just a little too close-minded, but this beer reminded me more of a badly-hopped Belgian golden ale than an attempt at an English classic.  I am not sure I'd be very enthusiastic about trying it again.

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