Description: "Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale combines his love of hops with his affinity for spicy Belgian ales. To develop his recipe, Roper created a hybrid of two styles, uniting the big hoppy taste of an IPA with the spicy, fruity flavor of a Belgian. The toasty caramel sweetness from the malt and Belgian candi sugar mimics a Belgian ale, while the big citrus hop notes of an IPA balance the style. A spicy yeast fermentation and hints of orange and coriander round out the brew. Richard’s Friar Hop Ale is a refreshing beer that can be enjoyed any time of year." — Samuel Adams
The tasting: Orange in color (crystal clear) with almost no head. The shot below wast taken immediately after I poured it into the glass. The color is unique, I don't recall seeing a beer that looks like this. Very spicy aroma with notes of clove and coriander, as well as citrus hops, sweet malt, and alcohol. It smells like a Belgian and nothing like an IPA, in my opinion. Flavor of sweet malt, lots of fruit (apricot & banana), and clove. Light bodied, with minimal carbonation, it has a very smooth mouth feel. The 9.0% ABV is remarkably well masked. I tasted a bit of alcohol in the finish along with some sweetness and peppery spice. Surprisingly drinkable for a 9.0% beer. Be careful with this one!
Rating: 3 star. Good. I would drink this again if someone gave it to me. I'm fairly new to Belgians, and plan explore the style by starting a Belgian review series within the next few weeks. However, I've tasted a few in the past, and Friar Hop is a good representation of the Belgian style. I really didn't get the IPA aspect of this beer. I expect it was hopped at a higher level than most Belgians, but the spice and fruity characteristics dominated the hop characteristics.
Category 23 is a great way to sample three diverse styles in one six-pack. Honey B's Lavender Ale is very unique, and Blackened Hops is a great Cascadian Dark Ale (or Black IPA). Pick up a six-pack and try all three for yourself. If you do, let me know what you think!