Brouwerij De Ranke - XXX Bitter

Brouwerij De Ranke - XXX Bitter

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Hoppy Belgian Golden Ale

Country:

Belgium

Alcohol by Volume:

6%

Brouwerij De Ranke - XXX Bitter

  • Alcohol by Volume: 6%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 45–54° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Chardonnay Glass

This was a particularly exciting find for us, as we’ve long been major fans of De Ranke’s XX Bitter: brimming with toasty Pilsner malt, loads of Brewers Gold and Hallertau hops, and yet so beautifully dry and careful in how it pulls things off… It’s just one of those magical beers. The XXX Bitter is, while thankfully weighing in near the same ABV, essentially XX Bitter-er. Brimming with herbaceous, grassy hops and toasty malt, it keeps that refreshing drinkability.

The nose on this is super-dry and snappy, with notes of hay, white pepper, and mint. There’s a fresh-cut mineral- and herb-focused hop character here that really seems like what a garden should smell like. That crackling maltiness speaks of the grain itself, and the zesty, very-green hoppiness feels effortlessly fresh. Without the fanfare of citrus, this feels generous and open.

We’d recommend pouring this into something with a concentrating shape—such as the tulip or chardonnay glassware suggested—but even a snifter or mysterious wineglass could suffice in a pinch (if you don’t mind drinking 6% beers out of snifters, as we don’t). Basically, you’re looking for a glass that will help concentrate what’s an expansive, noble-y-hop-driven aroma.

Which is not to detract from the pour itself. That image of freshly poured XXX Bitter is one of those things of beauty: a hazy, golden nectar capped by generous billows of foam forming the shape of the glass, almost matching the volume of the beer itself. Do keep some attention on the pour, lest beer be lost. The off-white head lingers, composed of tiny bubbles giving it the texture of mousse. This is one of those exceptional beers where you know before you taste.

As noted, the drinkability of its 33%-less-X’d predecessor isn’t lost here: This is very dry and hugely drinkable, with a fine-bubbled, nearly spritzy carbonation that keeps this very alive. A rounded toastiness from the Pilsner malt meets a generous quality of white pepper from the yeast. Additional notes of light clove and hay, maybe even a touch of honey, are met by what is arguably one of the most generous hop characters of a beer we’ve ever tasted: herbal notes and mineral qualities, just a touch of mint—conjuring Northern Brewer hops—and maybe a touch of lime, even. We felt like we were running through hop fields in Europe somewhere.

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