Monday, August 2, 2010

Musings on Ales and Hop Flavor and Aroma

Being from NEPA I regularly enjoy local brews like Weyerbacher Hops Infusion and Double Simcoe IPA; Victory Hop Devil, Hop Wallop> and the seasonal Yakima Twilight; Dogfish Head 60 and 90 minute I.P.A; Troegs Nugget Nectar and more recently Stoudt's American Pale Ale.

These beers are similar with respect to the intensity of hop-forward aroma and taste, and also similar to the west cost ``hoppy'' ales like Bear Republic's Racer 5, Lagunitas Hop Stupid, Stone, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, and other beers of that ilk.

But after visiting Barley's and Jack of the Wood in Asheville and Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, and trying some let's say mid-south or Appalachian or just simply North Carolina beers, I came to the realization that there's another different and excellent take on hoppy brews bearing a pale ale or india pale ale style.

I had Hoppyum IPA, Seeing Double IPA, and a Pilot Mountain Pale Ale at Foothills; Green Man IPA at Jack of the Wood; and French Broad Brewery's Rye Hopper and Pisgah Brewing Company's Organic Pale Ale at Barley's.

And later in Memphis I had a Yazoo Pale Ale and Schlafly Dry-Hopped APA from Nashville and St. Louis respectively. These were more hop-forward and in similar in intensity to east and west coast hoppy ales.

So basically, I book-ended a few North Carolina beers with beers from the mid-west and my familiar east and west coast hoppy beers.

What did I learn?
My totally non-scientific conclusion is that if you're coming from an east or west coast hoppy ale mindset, you will find some of these styles of beers from the North Carolina area of the country, different. Wow, big revelation, no?

These beers are great in their own right however and are not to be dismissed. What makes them great are the more subtle hop-forward aroma and flavor. This makes them highly sessionable as they don't have the ``burn'' of the more hop-forward beers which sometimes, a pint is all one can handle. The bitterness is there all right, giving them that fantastic dryness that is hard to beat when it's hot.


No comments: