New Belgium's Dark Kriek comes from the Fort Collins brewery's Lips of Faith series. The limited-edition cousins to New Belgium's core beers are an attempt to "keep the brewhouse a playground" and let the brewers practice their art, as the company's website says.
New Belgium is the third-largest craft brewer in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association. That makes the brewery, for better or worse, easily the largest in Colorado and what most out-of-staters associate with Colorado craft beer.
Soggy Coaster has never been on the bandwagon for Fat Tire, the flagship amber ale for which New Belgium is best known, but he enjoys several of the brewery's other beers, especially 1554 and the Abbey Belgian-style ale. Dark Kriek has received mixed reviews around the Internet, so Soggy Coaster approached the beer with his expectations in check.
Kriek is a Belgian-style cherry beer. New Belgium's version combines ale brewed with cherry juice with ale aged in wood barrels. The ale, 8 percent alcohol by volume, is sold in 22-oz. bombers.
Dark Kriek pours a reddish brown with minimal head. It carries a good amount of fizzy carbonation. The aroma is minimal at first, but the scent of tart cherries comes out as the beer warms.
Dark Kriek tastes of tart or slightly bitter cherries in a well-balanced dark ale. The overall effect is fruity but not sweet. The lack of heft in the ale as compared to a porter or stout makes it very drinkable, and the carbonation is pleasant.
Soggy Coaster found himself enjoying Dark Kriek more than he expected. Good work, New Belgium. B+