New England Brewing is known for making some great beer with odd names and funny labels. Their Belgian Strong Pale Ale – 668: The Neighbor of the Beast – is no exception. It’s not often you see a Belgian-style beer in a can and it’s even rarer than you see such a great example of the style from an American brewery in a can. The name is a subtle but clever reference to Duvel and even uses a font found on Iron Maiden album covers. What’s in the can is an outstanding beer – Belgian, American, or otherwise.
668: The Neighbor of the Beast : Appearance
Dark shade of maize. Extremely hazy body (translucent, but not opaque). Pours to a fairly large, white, frothy head that laces and retains very well.
668: The Neighbor of the Beast : Smell
Huge banana notes – totally authentic. Some spices. Classic Belgian yeast esters.
668: The Neighbor of the Beast : Taste
Sometimes I think American breweries actually out-Belgian Belgian breweries. Meaning: they take all the things that make a Belgian beer great and go even further with it. This beer definitely has a familiar palette akin to Duvel, La Chouffe, or plenty of other beers of the general style. Though not a tripel per se, it does have a lot of spiciness to taste. The yeast esters give it a sweet banana flavor in the front and finish with a strong peppery sensation (akin to white peppercorn or even table black pepper) on the finish. Other spices and fruits can be found lingering in the background from start to finish (especially peach and coriander, respectfully). The palette never gets old or tired – it’s as delectable on the last sip as it is on the first swig. That’s what I call a great-tasting beer.
668: The Neighbor of the Beast : Drinkability
At 8.5% ABV, 668: The Neighbor of the Beast is certainly a hefty, beastly brew… at least it should be. The mouthfeel is remarkably comfortable; full-bodied to be sure, but not intensely carbonated. It’s surprisingly comfortable with a smooth texture and finish to match. A slight drying/peppery sensation in the aftertaste, though it scrubs the palate clean each time it crosses the tongue. I do feel the alcohol in the taste and a warming sensation in the throat, but it’s not harsh – quite tolerable, actually. From a guzzler, but it’s difficult to simply sip.
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