Camaraderie Ale is packaged in a manner that elevates the image of beer: a gold foil-wrapped, cage-corked champagne bottle with an attractive label. From the look of it, you’d think it had been around for years, but this is a brand new creation (albeit a year in the making). The beer pours a bright, clear, dark straw color, capped by a nearly white head that blankets the beer nicely and clings to the sides of the glass, creating some nice Belgian lace patterns. This collaboration beer integrates US hops, and while unexpected for the typical Belgian beer, the nose offers up plenty of characteristically ‘US hop’ aromatics. Look for notes of oranges, apricots, pine, grapefruit and a flourish of spicy, fresh cut wood (like juniper trunk, perhaps spruce). Suggestions of black pepper emerge as it warms. Beneath the initial surge of hoppiness are some of the hallmarks of an Abbey Tripel—expect yeasty notes, spicy phenolics, floral tones and malty sweetness. As is to be expected, alcohol notes are present as well, but they are not off-putting, instead, they work perfectly with all the other spicy, sweet, floral, citrusy notes that flutter about. We also picked up some notes of lime in the aroma. The skilled brewers behind this beer have done a wonderful job of integrating the often unbridled ‘US hoppiness’ into the style; something that could easily have gone terribly wrong turns out to be a brilliant maneuver and twist on the style. Things get really interesting, however, when the beer hits the palate. The initial impressions are of tart lime, blended with a bit of dry white wine, and an abundant dryness that usually takes longer to build, typically showing up as a finishing note, but takes center stage in this beer. In the moments after the first sip, yeasty notes develop, then, the full force of the spiciness from the alcohol, hops and Belgian yeast strain converge to deploy notes of white pepper and herbal qualities (mugwort comes to mind, for those homebrewers who have used it – or any Harry Potter sorcerers in training out there), as well as a tingling, mentholated character and a distinct note of cardamom. Finishes with a Flemish-style tartness, subtle woodiness and impressions of freshly cut grass. This is absolutely not your typical abbey tripel, nor your standard US or Belgian Pale Ale. It has elements of both, but also qualities of a Flemish sour ale. This rare offering is a hybrid in the purest sense, and were it not a one-off brew, it very well could set the standard for an entirely new style of beer. Overall we found it extremely intriguing, unusual, bold and synergistic. After you’ve experienced it on its own, try pairing with Nuclear Chili (meaning very spicy), pork Vindaloo Curry, or a meat-lover’s deep dish pizza.