4AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
We all know there’s been an explosion of microbreweries and craft breweries over the last few decades, but what about the breweries that fall somewhere in between? Some are widely-distributed in regional areas, but don’t have the clout of big-name craft breweries like Dogfish Head, Stone, or Rogue. Long Trail is a good example of a brewery I’d consider smaller than a macro, but not quite a craft brewery. They make craftier beers than the bigger breweries, but their audience is still rather pedestrian.
I guess that’s the best way to describe their Traditional IPA – an India Pale Ale that has the basic framework of high-quality beers of the type, but just can’t hang with the heavy hitters. It’s a tasty, drinkable beer to be sure and I think that’s all it’s meant to be.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
This beer pours smoothly to form a perfectly-proportioned, bright white, foamy head which leaves generous lacing on the glass. The body is hazy, cloudy and bright orange like the skin from a tangelo. I didn’t notice any sediment floating in the beer despite the label’s note that this beer is unfiltered (I’m not sure why since this isn’t a wheat beer).
The aroma is a strong whiff of pine – like being in a forest in the winter. There are some mild citrus notes as well, but mostly it’s a malty, sweet scent rather than anything indicating bitterness and/or tart flavor.
The reason “hops heads” like me drink IPAs is for their intense hop bitterness, but with Long Trail Traditional IPA the bite never really arrives. Not that this is a bad-tasting beer by any means, no. The initial taste is, much like the nose, full of sticky pine. There is neither crispness nor tartness here, but rather a sour palate with just the slightest bit of a drying finish.
The brewery’s website says this beer is 52 IBUs, which I don’t doubt, but I was wondering where the hop bite was. Perhaps it could be due to the fact this is an unfiltered IPA, which would explain the notable yeast presence. There also seems to be some caramel undertones which add a sweet finish to the sour taste. Overall, the palate is certainly flavorful but isn’t what I look for in a beer of this type.
Sometimes IPAs can be difficult beers to drink as the hop presence tends to crackle in the mouth. However, in the case of Long Trail Traditional IPA the body and palate seem a bit flat which in turn create for a surprisingly smooth finish. The mouthfeel here is also surprisingly soft making for a very drinker-friendly brew.
What confused me about this beer was how heavy it seemed to be for an otherwise run-of-the-mill IPA. At 5.9% ABV this is totally average for a beer of this type, but after each bottle I had (three over the course of one night), I kept feeling full. I hardly noticed the alcohol, but I certainly noticed the density here. Perhaps this was just me and the average person may not notice. Still, I’d say this beer is a bit too heavy for a mid-level IPA.
Long Trail Traditional IPA walks a VERY fine line between recommendable and not recommendable. Although I do have some issues with this brew, overall, they are rather minor as I’ve drank much worse. I also think this would work well as a starter IPA for the average drinker who just wants something tasty to slug down and this definitely fits that role. Sure the [wannabe] connoisseur might be a little underwhelmed, but no one would be completely off-put by this.