Flying Dog Brewing Co., Raging Bitch

Grade: C
Flying Dog Brewing Co.

I've reviewed a few Belgian IPAs before (check out Great Divide, Belgica and Green Flash, Le Freak), and have been left wanting. The style is still in its infancy. Many say that the two styles are mutually exclusive, and never the twain shall meet. Others say that this is the future of beer, and we should embrace it. My opinion is still somewhere in the middle. I'm not sure that Raging Bitch can convince me that Belgian IPA has a place in the world of beer.

An offwhite, slightly orange head leaps up from the mostly clear, golden ale. There are some small particulates in suspension, but nothing to detract from the appearance. Belgian fruit esters are the first thing in the aroma, banana, some spice, pine, and citrus. Mouthfeel is medium and finishes a bit dry, bitterness lingers on the tongue. The first sip is confusing as hell. There is big hop bitterness, with pine and resin in the flavor, but almost at exactly the same time Belgian esters of banana, clove, and smoothness from wheat come in. Initially it's jarring to say the least, bordering on unpleasant. The Belgian elements make you want to relax and sit back, expecting a smooth and mild ale. Then the IPA elements come in, and smack you squarely in the face.

As I continue to sip this beer, the elements come together a little more. The banana fruits are starting to meld with the hops, some of the citrus flavors are beginning to make sense with the spice esters from the yeast. But the thing that makes me question this beer is the fact that it has taken me half a pint to start to get into it. Shouldn't a good beer make me love it at first sip? Or is this new style an aquired taste, like an oaky cabernet or a bold single barrel bourbon? I have to admit that I'm growing to like this beer, but not enough to order another pint.