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The Hop Brief: Yakima Craft Brewing IPA

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

This evening's dose of hops.

Enjoyed on 8/31/2010

Brewery: Yakima Craft Brewing Co.

Location: Yakima, WA

Beer: I.P.A.

Web: www.yakimacraftbrewing.com

Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2010

Style: American Style India Pale Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 6.33%

IBU: 102.9

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

Yakima Craft Brewing Co.’s IPA features a substantial, well-balanced taste with an emphasis on the hop.

Beer Advocate: B- (3.31)

Rate Beer: 49 (3.21)

Timperial’s Notes:

Believe it or not, this is my first dance with YCB.  Yes, they are still relatively new to the Seattle market, and their distribution here is spotty at best, but I’m a beer blogger… I’m slightly embarrassed.  Better late than never I guess.

When I see that this brew is over 100 IBUs I have mixed feelings.  Part of me says “touche” to the brewers for being bold and not at all thrifty when it comes to hop additions.  Another part of me asks, “why?” Bitterness is nice and all, but it’s fairly common knowledge that the human tongue can’t distinguish flavor differences above 100 IBUs.  Plus, brewers should be crafting brews with flavor and balance, not just ramming hops down our throats.  Well, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  Lets see how these brewers from the heart of hop country utilized the almighty humulus lupulus.

Very strong carbonation brings about a massive head that forces a slow pour.  The brew’s color is on the darker side of amber, approaching rust.  The clarity is strong.  The head lingers throughout my time with the beer and is a fluffy white color of varying sized bubbles.  Lacing is found all over the glass and is very impressive.

The hop scent is a bit subdued and nondescript, but I’d venture to use herbal and piney as descriptors.  A strong amount of malt sweetness makes its way through the flowers, bringing an impressive balance to a very bitter beer.  Hop bitterness is the most prevalent scent, but caramel maltiness stands tall.

I wouldn’t say that there is anything particularly striking about the mouthfeel.  The carbonation calms a bit once it sits for a few minutes, settling it right in to the zone that it should be in.

The flavor, overall, is reminiscent of an overly bitter English style IPA.  I have no doubt that the hop bill is sizable in this one, but I can’t place any particular hop attribute other than overwhelming bitterness.  The malts only barely push through at the very end of the sip, just as I swallow, and present a bread like flavor and a pleasant sweetness.  If only that sweetness could compete.

High alpha hops may have been used to spike the IBUs, but I’d ask at what intervals they where added.  Conventional wisdom would tell me that the earlier the addition, the more bitter the result.  YCB, heavy on the early addition?

As the brew warms a bit there is some alcohol burn that swells up through the bitterness.  Yes, the bitterness continues to dominate the back and rear sides of my tongue well after the swallow.  I find it a bit hard to get past.  It masks the other flavors with its intensity.  The bitterness mostly drys me out and weighs on me.

Case in point – massive IBUs doesn’t equate to pleasing all the hop heads.  That being said, I have a sweet tooth.  I’m always in search of the hoplipop…err…hop candy.  This isn’t it.  But if you define your hop-head-i-ness by bitter, bitter, bitter…this just might be your king.

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.90

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.50

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.90

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.10

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.25

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.80

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 7.45

Introducing: The Hop Brief

Hop Leaf

In just a few short months I’ll have been writing my Notes of a Beer Nerd (NBN) column for an entire year.  In that time I have not reviewed a single pale ale, IPA, or imperial/double IPA.

Why is that?  Is it because I don’t like hoppy beers or that I don’t feel that they are worthy of a review? GOOD GOD NO!  I love all things humulus lupulus!

Now I wouldn’t say that the larger classification of “pale” ales includes any single style that I would consider my number #1, most favorite style of all (I am Timperial Stout for a reason), but there is no other style that I crave more on a regular basis.

IPA is, without a doubt,  my go-to style.  After a long day of work, I most often want to sit down and relax with something herbal, piney, citusy… you know, something with some serious IBUs.  Anytime I’m at a “yellow beer bar”, I’m looking for a beer, any beer, with a respectable portion on alpha acids.

I think you get the point.  Despite what you may think, I really do heart hops.

The main reason why I don’t write about hop forward beers is that I find it to be very difficult to expand on the experience with any worthwhile composition.  When I write NBN, I try to fully express the various waves of perception that my senses experience amidst my enjoyment of a highly complex beer.

In my view, hoppy beers are very rarely complex, or rarely complex in a way that I am able to deconstruct and adroitly verbalize.  Content escapes me.  Most often I feel as though I’ve reverted back to a time when my beer knowledge was fledgling at best.  “This tastes…hoppy…and lacks balance.”  End of review.

The most unfortunate part about it is, as I said earlier, I heart hops.  I drink IPA’s all the time.  I really enjoy hoppy beers.  Shouldn’t I be able to share these experiences?  Perhaps I should view it as a challenge.

The Hop Brief will be dedicated to this aspiration.  It may be painfully curt in the inception, but here’s hoping for growth, both as a writer in general and as a beer reviewer.

As always, Beer Blotter desires your thoughts.  Taste something different?  An adjective strike you that would be more appropriate?  Think that my taste buds are straight up worthless? Shoot us a line.

Look out soon for The Hop Brief.

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