Belgians are a difficult style to put your finger on. There is no definitive “Belgian” beer, despite what many breweries will try and sell you. Like any other nations, the Belgians produce a wide variety of styles, all with their own distinct twists that will make them differ from the traditional American expectations of a style. Typically, an American’s idea of a “Belgian” will be the dubbel or tripel styles.
Many breweries have long dabbled in Belgian styles, but it wasn’t until recently that American breweries have start to experiment with crossing American styles with Belgian styles. Stone, Terrapin, Victory and Green Flash have all produced differing results from trying to cross American I.P.A.s with Belgian dubbels and tripels, but Flying Dog has been the one that seems to have hit on the best formula so far, with their 20th anniversary beer, a Belgian-Style I.P.A. they call Raging Bitch.
Technically, the beer is simply an over-hopped version of their Snake Dog fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Be warned, though, this means there is a great taste difference. Where as Snake Dog is a hoppy mongrel, Raging Bitch has more body, with the signature taste imparted by the foreign yeast – a slightly sweet mix of tastes of banana, clove, sugary fruit esters. Whereas many dubbels maintain this taste, the Bitch finishes it with aggressive Amarillo hops, providing a bitter, citrusy finish.
Be warned, this may not be the beer for you. It is strong, and it is unforgiving. But it is worth a try. Raging Bitch is available in bottles for in-house consumption as well as six-packs for take-out, and will be here for the foreseeable future.