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The XX Bitter is the first beer of the brewery De Ranke and was the second most bitter beer in Belgium when it was released just after the Orval.
A beer cannot get hoppier than this! The Ranke XX-bitter used to be the most bitter beer in Belgium and is the most bitter beer in the brewery. It might not be for all tastes, especially for novice beer drinkers, but once you develop your palate, you can’t get enough of it!
The beer has an orange, honey-coloured body. The XX-bitter has a slightly cloudy appearance, rich in carbonation and has a fine head.
On the nose, you will naturally smell very hoppy aromas. The flowery hoppy aromas are strong and very dominant.
The beer flavour follows the hoppy profile, and the hop flavours are very powerful. You can also note some flowery flavours of citrus fruits and grass followed by strong bitterness. Though the alcohol level is low, the flavours are very rich and long-lasting. The bitterness is well balanced.
The story of XX-bitter beer
The XX-bitter was already brewed back in 1994 when a home brewer and the manager of a beer tasting club decided to test a batch that uses a lot of hops. They decided to bring the beer to a festival in Kortrijk in 1996. Bitter beers were not yet popular, and many other brewers did not have faith in their new product because it was too bitter. Luckily De Ranke brewers could prove everyone wrong.
The XX Bitter is now considered a bitter beer trendsetter in Belgium. That is because when the beer came out, the IPA beers were not yet trendy in Belgium. Thus, the brewers did not even think about creating an IPA style beer. Some beer drinkers refer to it as a golden ale and others as India Pale Ale. The brewers themselves say that although the beer fits into the IPA category, they would call it a bitter pale ale because that’s the style they had in mind when they created the beer.
The brewers are very strict with their brewing methods and do everything traditionally. They use whole hops in their beers, and they never filter or pasteurise their beers. The brewers use direct fire and add hot water to achieve target mashing temperatures.
The hops used for brewing XX-bitter are two varieties of European hops. The Brewers Gold and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hop are both grown in Belgium. The former is used for bittering and the latter for aroma. Moreover, fresh hop flowers are used during the brewing process so they can develop their bittering potential.
The brewers also used to use Rodenbach yeast until a big company bought it and did not allow working with small breweries. Now the beer recipe uses Fermentis dry yeast instead. Their brewing methods allow them also to create a very dry beer.
The XX-bitter has made its name by being a trendsetter and one of the bitterest beers in Belgium. It is now extremely popular and is also the flagship beer of the brewery. The beer is not only appreciated in Belgium but also outside. For example, you can find XX-bitter also in the neighbouring countries, the USA and even Japan.
Read on to learn more about the XX-bitter beer.
Where does the XX-bitter beer name come from?
One of De Ranke's brewers liked the names of English beers that were called Bitter. Nevertheless, these beers often did not taste bitter. So the brewer decided to call their beer Bitter, which actually is a bitter beer.
How bitter is the XX-bitter?
The beer reaches an IBU of 65. Back then, one of the bitterest beers was Orval, with an IBU of 45. Generally, IPA beers fall between IBU of 40-70. Thus, we can see that the XX-bitter stays in the higher bitterness range.
How to serve XX-bitter beer?
The best way to serve this bitter delight is using a tulip-shaped beer glass. Also, the minimum serving temperature is 6 degrees celsius.
What are other similar beers and alternatives to XX-bitter?
If you enjoyed XX-bitter, try also the Delta IPA by Brussels Beer Project, Brussels Calling by de la Senne brewery or Troubadour Magma by Musketeers brewery. Don’t forget to check out our full collection of IPA beers to find good hoppy tastes.
Which foods go well with XX-bitter beer?
XX-bitter beer is good to pair with fish, meat dishes and mature cheeses. It is also a good companion during a barbecue. You can also balance the bitterness by enjoying sweet desserts next to the beer.
What are some other beers by De Ranke brewery?
If you like De Ranke brewery style, try out their Guldenberg, Franc Belge, Amer-Amer and XXX-bitter beer.
Thirsty for a nice bitter IPA? Then add XX-bitter to the cart! You may also find the beer in one of our Belgian beer boxes, or the beer may arrive in our monthly beer subscription boxes.