Dipping back to a familiar style, the IPA has re-entered my household. While usually I stick to random craft beers, I spotted one a while ago that I had never seen before by the name of Henry Weinhard’s. I left it on the shelf for another day, and out of the blue my brother in law brought some over for Halloween. Looks like a craft beer, so it must be one right? Hold on just a minute…
First a history lesson: Henry Weinhard is an actual person. Much like Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein, Henry was a brewer from the old days, who actually spent some time here in the area before settling down in Oregon. For a long time, he crafted beers under his own name, and at one point, as it sometimes happens, his company was bought by another larger company. This “craft” beer just happens to be made by the folks at SABMiller, but for some reason they don’t want you to know that. Well, they are not advertising it at least. Anyway, lets see how this IPA stands, enter the Woodland Pass IPA:
The beer pours like a normal IPA, with a good looking copperish hue. Smell wise I am picking up mostly pine aromas, and not much else. Taste wise, this beer is surprising. Right out of the gate, you pick up a nice hop flavor, but not overpowering like most IPAs that you will find nowadays. It is mild, but nice. Mixed with the hops, you will notice quite a bit of malt flavors, which mellow out the hops even more, and the beer finishes a little bitter. This IPA is lighter than most, and that is not a bad thing. This would be a good, cheap, grilling out type of beer.
Overall, I like this beer. True, it is not a real craft beer. True, it is more along the lines of a pale ale than an IPA. This is a beer that you could drink a few of and not find yourself without your pants the next morning. Not that that is a bad thing, or that it has happened to me. Well done Henry Weinhard’s, err…SABMiller, not great, but not a bad start.
IPAs are a mainstay in my household. Nothing finishes off a day better than a smooth, highly hopped, bitter IPA. Sometimes though, the West Coast style burns me out, and I start to look elsewhere for my evening beer, branching out to stouts and porters, etc. but I always find myself back to the IPA. Surprisingly though, I have never had an IPA from the origin of the style: Great Britain. Time for that to change, enter Meantime’s IPA:
The style got it’s start in the UK in the mid 18th century. Folks traveling to India wanted a beer that would make the journey, and what a beer they got. English IPAs became very popular, and the style crossed the pond in the early 1900s, and now almost every brewery here in the states has their own version. There is even the difference between East and West coast IPAs. Enough about that, lets get down with Meantime.
This IPA pours like your typical IPA, maybe just a tad lighter in appearance. Scent wise I am picking up a nice mixture of fruits and alcohol, which this beer is around 7.5% ABV so that is no real surprise. Taste wise, this is not your normal stateside IPA. Very mellow in comparison, but also very enjoyable. Fruity, bitter, smooth, a well balanced beer. The carbonation reminds me of drinking Anchor’s Old Foghorn, as it is very crisp and well done. This is an easy drinking IPA that I am glad that I found!
If you are like me, and drink a fair share of IPAs, give this one a try to mix it up a bit. Not your normal IPA, but historically, it is right on par for the style. This one I will buy again!
Well done Meantime!
Based out of the woods outside of New Orleans, Abita Brewing is a bit of an enigma to me. I have only had 1 or 2 of their products before, but I had always assumed that they were based on the West coast. Turns out, they use Pacific Northwest hop varieties. That would explain my confusion. Anyway, this nice can of beer showed up during some bicycle wrenching time, thanks Eric! Enter the Jockamo IPA:
This IPA pours a very good looking amber/orange with a respectable head left over. Once the beer is poured, pine scents hit your nose to remind you that you are about to drink an IPA. Once you start to drink this one, you will find that it goes down very smoothly. Those hops from the northwest show up with some nice citrusy flavors, and mix with an almost bread or biscuit like malt, to create a fine beer. Not extraordinary, but good nonetheless. This is a very respectable IPA, and it comes in a can, which that automatically makes me a fan.
This beer usually hangs with the $8.99/six pack crowd, which is a great deal in my book. Sometimes it is nice to not be drinking an imperial double American style IPA from hell, and just head back to the basics with a smooth, classic IPA. That is what this one is. Well done Abita!
Once again, I dig deep into the wonderful vault of Sierra Nevada. One of the early craft brewers, they consistently toss out beer after beer that ranks very high in my beer opinion. Very rarely do I have a drink from them that I do not enjoy. Their stout does come to mind though. Anyway, let’s pick the vine of Hoptimum, in their words, “the biggest whole cone IPA” that they have ever produced.
This beer pours like every IPA wishes they could, in a beautiful amber with an off white head that sticks to your glass. The aromas are what you would expect from a beer with 100 IBUs; hops, glorious hops. The smell is very flower like as well, with a touch of pine. Start to drink this, and you will be bombarded with the amazing hop flavors. This beer almost has a thick feeling, with the hops taking center stage, followed by an almost sweet grapefruit like taste. I am not one for grapefruit, but this I do enjoy. Another touch of pine at the end, and this beer goes down way smoother than you would expect. One thing that I was surprised that did not show up in the taste was the alcohol. This beer clocks in at 10.4% ABV, so I expected to taste that. However, it stays nicely hidden, with no noticeable alcohol burn. That is a nice touch.
This beer goes down smoothly, and I would say almost too smooth. This is the type of beer that gets me into trouble, as I finish one, and go straight for another. Next thing that I know, I am in the basement peeing on the floor, thinking that I am in the bathroom upstairs. Strange things happen with high quality beer. Anyway, this beer is a classic in my book, and I am now putting it in my group of favorites. Well done!
I like Great Divide. To me, they are one of the better craft brewers in the industry these days, that you barely hear anything about. Well, maybe there is more play out West, but here in the Midwest, nothing much is mentioned about this company. That is a damn shame. Last week, I decided to pick up this special sixer to do a write up for IPA day, but missed the boat entirely. So, fashionably late, enter the Rumble:
Great Divide’s Rumble is an oak aged India pale ale, which is a little bit outside of the norm. And for an IPA, this beer is not what you would expect.
At first glance, this beer looks like a normal IPA. Nice coloration, and a nice sticky lacing that hangs out on your glass for a few minutes. The aromas are a nice mix of oak, vanilla, and a tiny bit of hops thrown in, just because it is an IPA. Once tasting though, this beer delivers. Up front there is a small bitterness, that gets taken over by caramel malt sweets. Vanilla decides to show up in the middle, then the beer finishes with a nice, small hop flavor that rounds out this delicious beer. Not your normal hop monster IPA, but more of an almost creamy flavor IPA. It feels weird to say, “creamy IPA,” but that is what comes to mind. My only drawback to this beer is the weird aftertaste that I get from drinking it. I would almost describe it as a resiny aftertaste, not immediate, but shows up a couple minutes after the swig is down. Just a minor drawback, and nothing to make me avoid buying this beer again. And buy it again I shall.
This has been a great beer to celebrate my late IPA day. I would definitely recommend it if you need a break from burning out your taste buds on some of the greater hop concoctions out there. A creamy IPA, who would have thought?
Well done once again Great Divide!
Since tonight is the last night of my California trip, I thought I would finish it off with another walk with the Alpine beer company. With this selection, I feel that I have had enough of their products to make the call; this is one of my favorite brewers. Every single product that I have had from them has been stellar. But alas, I am getting the cart before the horses. Let’s talk about their Duet IPA.
Once you spend a little time at the Alpine Beer Company, you will get the impression that hops are a big deal there. And you would be correct. Hops play a huge part of their line up, especially when you think of beers with the name, “Pure Hoppiness.” Their Duet is no exception.
Once the beer is opened, hops punch you in the face. The smell of this beer is amazing, which I would imagine even makes hop masters like Stone blush a bit. Very fragrant citrusy hops, almost floral like, with a good touch of pine. Transfer that to your taste buds, and the favors remain. Only the taste is so much smoother. For an IPA clocking in at 7%, this is one of the easiest drinking beers that I have ever had. A beer like this would definitely get me into trouble. One of the best beers that I have had in a while.
This beer finishes up my two weeks in California with a great finish. If you have the chance to make it out to the small mountain town of Alpine, do not miss this brewery. And they have a nice brewpub to boot. Well done Alpine, now ship your products to Ohio!
Sierra Nevada holds a special place in my beer loving heart, as they were my introduction to craft beers. Their pale ale was my first venture into the world of beers with real flavor, not a watery rice imitation beer. That was some time ago, but the feelings stick with you. You always remember your first, with beer it is no exception. Anyway, lots has changed with one of the original craft brewers over the years; A new brewery being built in North Carolina, new beers, and a canning line. Let’s take a look at their extra IPA, the Torpedo:
I love the idea of craft beer in a can. Zero light pollution. No skunky beer here. Plus, it makes it much easier to take a beer with you on outdoor adventures into remote areas. Sure you can take a bottle with you, but with a can it is lighter and takes up less space when bringing the trash home. What, you actually think I leave my empties out in the woods? Shame on you. Anyway, enough about the cans, let’s get to the tasting.
The beer pours perfectly out of said can, a beautiful dark orange/amber IPA with a decent off white head. Once the can is opened, the scent of pine hops clogs your airways. Very strong hops, mixed with a sweet grapefruit smell. I wish I could make this blog scented, so as you read this post you could smell the beer. Once you start drinking it, those flavors are at the front, overpowering anything else that might be in there. Just a tiny bit, if any malt taste is there, but you are hard pressed to find it under all of those hops. For the finish, it ends bitter and dry, or I would even say crisp. This is what an IPA should be.
Some might not care for this amount of hops, but seriously, if you do not like hops why buy an extra IPA? This is one of my favorites for a few reasons:
1. I get a sense of nostalgia when I drink a Sierra Nevada product, refer back to the first paragraph. 2. This has that West Coast style hop flavor, that I really enjoy.
3. You can find this beer almost anywhere.
If you like the above reasons, and just love the flavor of hops, this is a must try if you have not already. Well done Sierra Nevada!