Let's put this IPA thing out to pasture once and for all. Although, to be fair, there's still a Red Eye Serendipity at The Old Fashioned to taste and the Tyranena Rye IPA.
So, after all of this, what can we say about IPAs that hasn't been said before? Well, I'm continually stunned by the sheer range within this genre that we call India Pale Ale. There are some that focus on the flavor of the hops, some that focus on the aroma of the hop, some that just concentrate on the bitterness. There are degrees of balanced: from the insanely unbalanced to the amazingly well-balanced. The malts range everywhere from non-existant to roasty, though never really approach the porter range. Although, to be fair, we didn't even touch the newest rage: black IPAs.
We looked at IPAs at typical refrigerator temps, then we warmed them up and tasted them at room temperatures and found two completely different beers. At lower temps we have aggressive hops and bitterness - the spring equivalent of salty pretzels, that you just can't stop drinking; at warmer temps, creamy milk-like textures with strong notes of alcohol almost like a whiskey.
What were we impressed by?
I have a new-found respect for the New Glarus IPA. I'm not sure that's it's my "go-to IPA", but only because it is just such a great all-around beer that it makes a great baseline - something to drink everyday regardless of the desire for a seasonal IPA.
The Hopdinger (below) also impressed at the warmer temperatures. It became fruity and estery, but still clean and just enough off-balance to let the hops shine. Now, I just need to find me a bottle of that Lupulin Maximus.
All-in-all, an enjoyable, palate-destroying journey. I'm going to let my mouth recover for a little while and we might talk about saisons this summer - New Glarus has an Imperial Saison as its new Unplugged, Great Lakes has its Grassroots saison. Not to mention that I'm a big fan of these husky, musty, dry, sessionable, refreshments; a bright summer counterpart to the winter wit and the fall biere de garde.
O'So Hopdinger BA.(C+) RB.(21)
Appearance: hazy amber body; light carbonation; dense, creamy head - served at 60 degrees
Aroma: musty and resiny, some citrus; pine hops; biscuit and toasty malts are faintly in the background
Flavor: creamy and bright tangerine; not a lot of malt in the flavor, but you can taste the alcohol
Body: medium to strong-bodied with a dry finish reminding me of rye whiskey
Drinkability: These go down real easy, too easy probably
Summary: I really enjoyed this beer at this temperature, a great IPA; A fun, drinkable beer that has some character to it; I love how IPAs change at these warmer temperatures, they become something other than concentrated hop bombs; O'so's website calls this a "pale ale" rather than an INDIA pale ale, but I would put it up there with Ale Asylum's Hopalicious as beers that blur the line between pale ales and india pale ales.
[ed note: I'm surprised by the low scores on BA and RB. Some interesting comments: " I once tried a Bubbalicious gum that was filled with some strawberry liquid, and this kind of smells like that liquid.", "not sure i really understand this one...its earthy and grainy, with a blast of tragic diacetyl", "the malts stick around and give it a balanced and smoother finish than you would expect from the start (or from the scent) there seems to be a little bit of a off-flavor finish however that clashes a little.", " Kind of like eating a metal can coated in shit."
Wow. All I can say is "wow". I definitely didn't get the diacetyl or gummy strawberries or ... ummm ... metal can coated in shit. I will say O'So is a very small operation and there is bound to be a lot of batch-to-batch discrepencies and possibly some bottle-to-bottle discrepencies. What I can say is that I had 3 of these at refrigerator temps and one of them at warmer temps and preferred the warmer (the other two were consumed in the Miller Park parking lot :) It went from being a middling IPA (or PA) to being a pretty darn good one.]
Central Waters Glacial Trail IPA BA.(B+) RB.(77)
Appearance: cloudy and deep copper; foamy head and moderate to low carbonation
Aroma: oranges and grapefruit, a fairly big whif of malt behind the hops
Flavor: bright and bitter; a strong roasted dryness from the malts
Body: medium bodied and with a long hoppy bitter finish; the alcohol isn't nearly as pronounced here
Drinkability: At cooler temperatures (40-50) this is a nice, sessionable, surprisingly-malt-forward IPA, at warmer temperatures, the complexity doesn't hold up
Summary: I really like this beer, and is exactly what I love about IPAs with something a little different (the roasted malts); so, with that said, this what I would grab out of the refrigerator, drink either out of the bottle or pour into a glass and drink a six-pack of; it's a top-shelf seasonable, sessionable, IPA
[ed note: both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer list this as "Glacier Trail" despite the bottle images with the actual name spelled correctly.]
Oh. Happy Memorial Day everybody!