New Belgium has a new winter seasonal, it's called Snow Day. It is dark and hoppy and perfect for the coldest of months. The tough news to take on the NBB seasonal front however is the hiatus that 2Below is going to take, two years off the shelf to make room for Snow Day. But fear not good people, the newest of New Belgium offerings is a true delight, so good in fact I drank one this morning and wrote a review just for you. I figured with Snow Day beginning to hit the shelves over the next few weeks you should be armed with the knowledge required of an informed consumer.
Let's start with the bottle picture, pretty isn't it? That label shows off a winter-wonderland-like-vision of the Mothership and the amazing (and amazingly huge) window into Brewhouse One. It also shows just how much snow can pile up in your imagination when you're thinking about the perfect beer for an unexpected day off. This label is another Anne Fitch gem. Anne has been painting labels for us since our co-founder Kim Jordan knocked on her door looking for Fat Tire and Abbey bottle art 20 years ago, and she nailed it again. The winter season also marks the yearly cap change (visible in the photo), once the days start to shorten the white replaces the red, and it always makes me long for pond hockey season. Then the red cap comes back in spring and it makes me pine for bike camping.
I popped the bottle open and poured the beer into it's neighboring globe glass. Snow Day pours dark, like very dark, black in fact. The black beer builds a strong, walnut-hued head. The foam was very sturdy and did want to dissipate (like at all). The aroma was strong, I only had to tilt my head slightly towards the glass to start picking it up. On the nose the hops are very present. This beer has Cascade, Centennial and Styrian Golding hops and the spicy tones were complimented by the Pacific Northwest (of America) hoppy-citrus punch, creating a full, round hop-o-sphere to take through the nose holes of your face. Upon first sip I was taken aback with the unexpected. Looking at the dark color of Snow Day I was expecting a strong, roasted bitterness. I was fooled. The darkness in this beer comes from a new brewing malt called Midnight Wheat, it imparts a blackness to the color but does not give the burnt, acridity found in a lot of darker beers. This wheat malt lends a good (almost) sweetness as well as that easy, smoothness found in a good wheat beer. The sweetness in this beer bordered on the edge of chocolate (maybe coffee too) and these flavors were launched into flavor orbit when considered along side the hoppy bitterness also found in Snow Day. The mouthfeel was pretty easy, very crisp and more refreshing than I would expect from a winter beer. The finish had a subtle dryness, just enough to leave the palate feeling clean, but not sucked of it's moisture. I enjoyed the sample sips so much I went back for more to the same end (the end is yums-ville (and we all have tickets for the ride)).
This beer is winner. I too will miss 2Below, but I am really excited about Snow Day. The hole in my heart left behind by 2Below caesura will be filled (beyond capacity) with Snow Day and fun winter activities (like pond Hockey). This beer should be available soon (assuming you live within our distribution area) if it isn't already. So get out there my friends and start embracing winter.