The Hop Brief: Yakima Craft Brewing IPA
Enjoyed on 8/31/2010
Brewery: Yakima Craft Brewing Co.
Location: Yakima, WA
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Style: American Style India Pale Ale
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)
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