- Container: 12 Oz. Can
- ABV: 6.8%
- Style: Belgian Pale Ale
- Brewer: Arches Brewing
- Beer Connoisseur: 89
- Bitterness Level: Low
- Would I purchase again? Yes
- Would I stock it? No
- Comments: Unique spin on Belgian Ale, smooth & complex
I must admit, Arches Brewing is a refreshing addition to the burgeoning craft beer scene in the Atlanta area. They are producing some high quality traditional beers and also putting some unique characteristics in them as well. Southern Bel’ is a great example of their creativity. You’ve just got to love the name in the first place, it’s so quintessentially Atlanta. (Warning: gratuitous Gone With The Wind reference ahead).
Southern Bel’ has that Scarlett O’Hara attractiveness and sassy personality. It pours a medium amber color with a slight haze producing a fluffy, off white head that persists for a few minutes. Initially I notice a pleasant, but unique aroma; but I couldn’t peg it. I do notice the hint of biscuit from the malts. The first sip has a lot of things going on at once. A silky soft mouth-feel with herbal hints, biscuit, light toast and…there is strange flavor I can’t peg, like the aroma. Start to finish very balanced with a short slightly bitter, but not a drying aftertaste. Quite pleasing. I take a second sip, confirming my initial impressions and then it hits me. That unique aroma and taste is a smoky, wood flavor, but it is nothing like the Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier I recently reviewed. I quickly jump on Arches website to discover this flavor and aroma is from Peruvian wood (as a general rule, I don’t read the breweries description before I taste a new beer because I want to find out how closely I can detect a beers characteristics without any bias).
Wood barrel aging beer had been going on for centuries and has regained popularity recently, so this was nothing new. At the same time, Arches did a nice job of producing a smooth, drinkable Belgian with the complex flavors of wood barrel aging without overdoing it. Additionally, it’s not only their creativity, but their emphasis on water chemistry that sets them apart from other craft brewers making the same styles.
Bottom line: Another quality offering from Arches. While this is a Belgian that I would not keep a lot of at home; only because I prefer some other styles to have on hand. I wouldn’t hesitate to grab one from time to time. If you have an opportunity, do give this a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. You couldn’t accuse Southern Bel’ of being boring. Scarlett certainly wasn’t!
Until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!