Belgian India Pale Ales 

The Belgians take their beer very seriously, and nowhere will you find a greater variety of truly unique brews. It was only a matter of time before someone there decided to explore the style of India pale ales. Of course, those fiercely independent brewers found their own unique slant, something like a cross between a Belgian tripel and an American IPA. For their home market, these ales come off a little too hoppy, but they have found an international following, with less bite than is typical here in the United States, followed by a nice, dry finish. Urthel was one of the first to hit the Boise market. Now it's joined by a trio of new offerings. Check out these worthy Belgian IPAs:

De Regenboog 't Smisje Plus IPA

This pale ale is a lovely dark amber in the glass with a fine-grained, creamy head. It holds lots of Belgian funk on the nose that shows touches of pine and clove. This one is big and bold in the mouth with a definite "Belgian ale meets Northwest IPA" feel to it. It has ample hop bite throughout, but it plays against caramel-laced malt and spice; sweet citrus holds it all together and those hops really kick in at the end. You can feel the alcohol—10 percent—more than taste it, so caution is advised.

Golden Carolus Hopsinjoor

Not labeled as an IPA, the Hopsinjoor title tells the story. It's a light tan in color with lots of tiny bubbles topped by a thick and persistent, billowy froth. Herb-laced hops with a touch of spice characterize the nose, and a complex array of smooth, just bitter flavors come through in the mouth. You get alternating layers of citrus, pine, orange zest and spice from the international quartet of hops—Belgian Golding, German Spalt, French Tradition and Tchech Saaz. This beer shows the best balance of the three, especially on the long finish.

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Extra IPA Restyled

Pouring a hazy gold with nice resiny hops on the nose, this one is backed by intriguing aromas that are lightly herbaceous with a bit of mineral and a saltiness, something like a fresh sea breeze. The hops are there on the palate, but they are somewhat reserved for an IPA. Creamy fruit flavors like peach and citrus dominate, all surrounding a core of soft, smooth malt. The finish leads off with a hint of sweetness, but it's nicely balanced by a healthy hit of bitter hops.

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