Whenever I drive through Connecticut – which is a few times a year – I decide to stop at a small beer store in Norwalk called Ninety 9 Bottles (http://www.ninety9bottles.com/). I usually find New England Brewery products there along with an assortment of other great beers. Being located only 5 minutes off of Route 95, it makes for an awesome pit-stop. Typically I’ll find some of the normal offerings from New England Brewery there (Sea Hag, Elm Street etc), but this time I was able to get my hands on some 668 Neighbor Of The Beast. I tried this beer at Extreme Beer Fest last year and athough I wouldn’t consider it “extreme”, I do remember it being a very solid beer. When I saw it in the store, I knew that I had to get at least one can of it.
“Good fences make good neighbors – unless you live next door to Satan. Then you might need something extra to help you cope – like our ‘668’. This helaciously delicious Belgian style ale is brewed with pilsner malts, candi sugar and blended with American and German hops. Mortal Tested. . . Goat Lord Approved.”
I poured this beer from it’s 12oz can into my Bruery snifter glass. The color is a medium hue of orange. Although I can see through it, it’s still not completely transparent. There is roughly a finger of head which disappears after 30 seconds and leaves very little lacing on my glass.
After giving this a little swirl in my glass for a minute, I decided to take a wiff. It was somewhat what I was expecting from a Belgian style beer. Although Beeradvocate labels this as a Belgian Pale Ale, the New England Brewery calls this beer a Belgian Golden Ale. I personally see it as somewhere in between and can totally understand where the dispute may lie.
All that I know is that even if I was unaware of what style beer this was, the scent of the Belgian yeast would have tipped me off. I smell hops, but can’t distinguish which kind. It has a similar smell to a Flying Dog Raging Bitch, but less assertive and has slightly more bready notes to it. The alcohol is also apparent, but lingers in the background. There is a slight light grassy smell to this beer that blends itself well between the hops, alcohol and peppery notes from the yeast.
I let this sit for at least 10 minutes before I tasted it. I really wanted it to breathe. It’s a medley of hops and Belgian yeast dancing around my tongue. It is slightly sweet, but then fades into a piney dryness. As I breathe out, the alcohol becomes more noticeable. The finish is long and dry – especially in the front of my mouth. However, I still have the distinct taste of Belgian yeast and hops at the sides of the back of my tongue. It stayed there for at least 2 minutes. The hop bitterness isn’t incredibly strong, but just strong enough to let you know it’s waiting there. When cold, it tastes much like a Belgian Pale, but after warming, it takes on taste qualities of a golden ale. After warming, I was able to taste bread ier and sweeter notes. The beer became smoother, but still has the alcohol trailing behind.
This beer has an incredible mouth feel for the size it is (9% ABV). I feel lucky that I poured this into a glass. If I didn’t smell the alcohol on it, I probably would have had a much different evening and wouldn’t be writing this to you. It’s a very easy drinking beer, and is the type of beer that could get you in trouble. Drink this in a nice glass and take your time so that you can appreciate it.
Overall, I feel that this is a good offering from the New England Brewery. Although this didn’t blow me away completely, it was definitely enough to keep my interested in it. It’s an all around good Belgian style beer which is made in America – something sort of hard to find. At the very least, I could easily say that this is the best Belgian Style beer I’ve drank in a can. I’d recommend this for those into the Belgian Style beers – However, be warned of the ABV!