Guest blog post by Bill Fishburn. You can follow him @rwfishbu1.
My family and I were out for a quick dinner at Olympia’s Cascadia grill, when I found a beer I just had to write about. If you’re in Olympia, it’s worth your time checking out Cascadia. They serve local beef in a great selection of burgers and some of the best french fries I’ve had in recent history… but I digress. That’s a restaurant/food review and this Perspective is about my other love, craftbeer. They had on tap a nice selection of Deschutes Brewery beers, and a nice, little surprise from a Hood River, OR, brewery.
The Beer: Double Mountain Brewery’s India Red Ale (IRA)
Double Mountain has this to say about this beer:
» INDIA RED ALE «
The “IRA”, as it’s known around here, marries a ruby red color and rich body with the hop flavors of an IPA. Our unique ale yeast strain adds a delicious layer of complexity. One of the first beers we made and an enduring favorite. Brewed with Gambrinus Organic Pilsner malt, imported crystal malt, Simcoe and Brewers’ Gold hops. 6.5% ABV, 65 BU
Appearance: The beer arrived at the table with a thin, white head, that dissipated quickly, but left the barest hint of lace throughout the drink. It is a distinctly reddish beer, tending away from the lighter colors you might associate with an India Pale Ale, which I imagine is why the brewery took the liberty with the style name. I’d estimate the SRM to be 22 based on the scale in BJCP Droid (yes, I have the BJCP guidelines application on my Android smart phone. I’m a beer geek. Don’t judge, k?). The beer is pretty hazy, leading me to believe there has to be a generous amount of dry hopping going on.
Aroma: A notable aspect of this beer is its clean, fresh hop scent. I know, I know. How can hops have a “clean” scent? What I mean is that the smell is very pungent, seems to be a single-hop note, and the aroma is very intense. I discerned tangerine and lemons in the hop aroma. The tangerine aroma brings to mind Satsumas or maybe Mandarin oranges. The lemon is distinct and pleasant; a mild lemon scent you might get from fresh squeezed lemon-aid. The malt aroma comes through in a mild caramel note, after the citrus fruits are done making their presence known. Finally, lighter fruit esters that might bring to mind fresh-cut apples or pears make a brief appearance.
Flavor: This beer is first and foremost about the hops. From the first sip, you get great, assertive hop flavors of citrus that tend toward tangerine or orange. The lemon, present in the aroma, is not noticeable in the flavor, replaced by the more orange-like flavors. The light sweetness of the malt complements those flavors with a mild hint of caramel. The beer finishes sweet, but then there is a really incredible hop lover’s surprise: An intense, back-of-the-throat hop bitterness that grabs your attention much like a jolting alarm in the too-early morning after a night of enjoying too many of this kind of beer. It will wake up your taste buds and make you take notice. Say hello to Simcoe hops! Although it is 6.5% alcohol by volume, there is no discernible alcohol present in the flavor.
Mouthfeel: With a medium-light body and low carbonation, it provides a nice, spritzy sensation. Its finish is sweet as opposed to dry. As you might expect with the lack of alcohol flavor, there is no warming from alcohol. All of these aspects of mouthfeel combine to provide a beer that is extremely (and possibly dangerously) quaffable.
Overall: This is a great IPA with an amazing hop presentation, and even with a hazy appearance, the beer tastes clean, fresh, and light. The citrus notes that show up in the aroma stick around for the flavor show, shoving the malt right off the palate stage and owning the program. Just when you think the malt and yeast might provide a palate-relaxing intermission, the hops jump back into the scene. They provide the twist of a surprise ending that makes this beer well worth your time and effort to find. Get it. In your mouth. Now.