Tasting Notes: A Bunch of IPAs

I have been feverishly writing tasting notes of late. Nearly every new beer I drink gets the full treatment. Slips of paper with hastily written, barely legible scribbles litter my house. Sometimes I get around to typing them up. I’ve got them, so I figure I should do something with them. And as I have been ignoring this blog for some time, this seemed a good place to put them. And so I offer you a bunch of IPAs to start.

Here’s my (raw and unedited) notes:

Red Line
Torque Brewing, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Style: Red IPA
Serving Style: 16 oz. can
6.5% ABV
60 IBU

Aroma: Caramel malt and bread crust. Low impression of sweetness. Electrical fire phenolic. Moderate citrus peel and herb spice hop aroma. Low minty. No alcohol.

Appearance: Dark amber/red and brilliant. Full, off-white to ivory foam with excellent retention.

Flavor: Malt hop in good balance with favor to hops. Hop bitterness is high to medium-high. Sharp and spicy. Hop flavor is high – spicy, grapefruit pith, resinous. Same electrical fire phenolic from aroma. Finish is off dry with lingering bitterness and low caramel/toast malt. Malt is caramel and bread crust with low sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Medium-low astringency.

Overall Impression: Needed to be consumed sooner as that electrical fire phenol is obtrusive. Not yet undrinkable.

Hop Ridge IPA
Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau, Alaska
Style: American IPA
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle
7.3% ABV
57 IBU

Aroma: Hop forward. Pineapple and lemon pulp. Low herbal. Hollow-stem plant. Fruity and herbal. Minty. Very low sweetness. Low fruity esters. Green Melon. Gooseberry.

Appearance: Pale gold. Hazy. Medium, fluffy, white head with good retention.

Flavor: Hop forward. Moderate bitterness. High hop flavor – green melon, green plants, green berries, pineapple, herbs-mint. Very low malt sweetness. Very low neutral grain malt flavor. Finish is very dry with lingering melon, mint and green plants. Clean fermentation. Pineapple and lemon come in as it warms up.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium-light body. Medium-high carbonation. Low astringency. No alcohol. Not creamy.

Overall Impression: So green. All about green things. Would be great with cucumber or mint. A leaf of basil?

Spruce IPA
Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau, Alaska
Style: American IPA with Spruce Tips
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle
7% ABV

Aroma: Hops lead, blended with spruce. Tangerine and orange pulp. Minty herbs. Pine and blueberry. High fruitiness. Malt is nearly imperceptible. Low grainy sweetness under the fruit. Medium fruity esters. Very light alcohol – floral. As it warms the pine-tree spruce aromatic becomes more intense. Like walking in the woods.

Appearance: Full, creamy, ivory foam with excellent retention. Dark gold/light copper and clear.

Flavor: Similar to aroma. Hops lead, blended seamlessly with spruce. Blueberry up front leading to pulpy orange and tangerine with tropical fruits in the middle. Finishes with resinous pine and herbal mint. Finish is dry to just off-dry with lingering blueberry and pine resin with low bitterness. Bitterness generally is medium-high. Low sweetness. Malt is neutral grainy sweet. Moderate fruity esters. Bright tart-citrus hop notes ride the top layer.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Low creaminess. Low astringency in the finish.

Overall Impression: Hops and spruce blend seamlessly in a fruity extravaganza. Pine tar in the finish is on the edge of off-putting. As it is, it adds a sense of bitterness in an IPA with otherwise relatively low bitterness.

Mocha IPA
Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, California
Style: Double IPA with coffee & cocoa
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle
9% ABV

Aroma: Citrus and tropical fruit leads – juicy mangos and pineapple. With a long sniff, coffee emerges to take its place. The two battle for the top spot. Medium sweetness. Stone fruit. Low, grainy-sweet malt. Medium fruity esters.

Appearance: Full, creamy, off-white head. Excellent retention. Dark gold and hazy.

Flavor: Cocoa takes charge in the palate. Cocoa to start, with apricot and stone fruit enveloped. Cold press coffee comes midway and stays to the finish. Bitterness is high, but balanced by medium malt sweetness. Squishy fruit – mango, apricot, pineapple syrup. Finish is off-dry with lingering coffee, chocolate and fruit.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Low alcohol warmth. Medium-high carbonation. Low creaminess.

Overall Impression: What an interesting beer. It could have been a train wreck. Instead it’s like eating chocolate covered fruit while sipping coffee. No element overpowers. All work in harmony and have a moment at the center. That said, a full 12-ounce bottle was about six ounces too many.

Ghost Hammer IPA
Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, California
Style: American IPA
Serving Style: 12 oz. can
6.7% ABV
56 IBU

Aroma: Hops full on. Floral/spicy noble old world character with lemon citrus overtones. Low orange melon notes. Malt has almost worty character – grainy sweetness with dark sugar, low caramel. Smells like when the hops go into the kettle. Moderate fruity esters.

Appearance: Full, creamy, off-white head with >> retention. Dark gold and hazy.

Flavor: Hops in the lead. Very floral – geranium/rose. Low resiny notes. Earth. Peppery spice. Licorice. Bitterness is low and doesn’t quite balance the malt. Malt is neutral grainy sweet. Sweetness is medium and tapers off in the finish. Lipid juice or canned fruit syrup. Moderate orange esters. Low lemony highlight in the finish. Finish is off dry with floral, lemon citrus, orange and long-lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel: Medium body, Low carbonation. Low astringency. No alcohol warming

Overall Impression: This is just kind of a mushy mess. A ton of hop fruit and slightly sweet malt that lacks crispness and snap. The flavors all just mush together. No clear definition. Too much going on, and yet so uninteresting.

Hops & Rec
Offshoot Beer Co., Placentia, California (offshoot of The Bruery)
Style: Double IPA
Serving Style: 16 oz. can
8.1% ABV

Aroma: Hops lead. Juicy fruits – lemons, lemon peel, pineapple, ripe mango. Medium malt sweetness. Grainy/doughy. Low herbal notes – sage or mint. Low alcohol – vaporous. Low fruity esters.

Appearance: Light gold. Cloudy. Medium-full, rocky, white foam with good retention.

Flavor: Hops in full charge. Similar to aroma. Brighter citrus notes first – lemon, lemon peel, lime. Juicy tropical fruits follow – pineapple, low ripe mango. Subtle herbal/floral notes – mint/geranium. Bitterness is medium-high – smooth. Malt flavor is low – grainy sweet, almost an afterthought. Alcohol is low and mellow. Off-dry finish lingers on fruity hops and smooth bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body – light for 8%. Medium carbonation. Low alcohol warming. Very low astringency. Very low creaminess.

Overall Impression: My kind of double IPA – all about hop flavor and aroma, not so much about hop bitterness. I wish there was a bit more malt intrigue here, but the hop expression really is layered and lovely. Nice interplay of fruit and herbs. Deceptive in its strength.