Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lagunitas India Pale Ale


4.1
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - MAR 17, 2010
I’m a huge fan of the India Pale Ale beer style, but I’m not so crazy about imperial versions since they tend to be a little too rich and not crisp enough for me. What would happen if an IPA had the taste of an imperial but the weight and drinkability of a regular IPA? I suppose the answer would be Lagunitas IPA, which seems to be a hybrid of the two.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA
This beer flows very smoothly out of the bottle due to its thick composition. It’s bright orange with some yellow colors around the edge. It’s mostly clear, but slightly cloudy (like a summer day here in Albany – ha!). The head is off-white, frothy, and leaves generous lacing on the glass and sticks around long after the beer itself has been consumed.

The aroma is indicative of something much heavier than the beer actually is. I smell a rich floral bouquet with notes indicating rich sugary sweetness from the scent alone. There’s a touch of pine, but it’s more like pine sap rather than pine needles.

TASTE
When I took my first taste of Lagunitas IPA I was immediately reminded of many heavier versions of the style I have encountered over the years. The taste is extremely rich and malty with a distinct hoppiness to the body but followed by a dry back end. Overall, the palate is best described as sweet and syrup-like, almost sugary.

What’s interesting is there’s a creamy texture as well as a distinct caramel taste – but which is responsible for which? This is definitely one of the sweetest and maltiest IPAs I’ve had - which is fine because it’s tasty and refreshing.

DRINKABILITY

It’s rare that I pay attention to the speed at which I drink a brew, but I was honestly surprised that I was able to slug down Lagunitas IPA so quickly. This is even more surprising considering the mouthfeel is rather thick, but soft. It finishes very smooth despite the bitterness to the palate.

WEIGHT

I did not know the weight of this beer until after I had drunk a bottle of it. From the aroma and taste I assumed Lagunitas IPA was something bordering on an imperial style, but considering the ease of its drinkability and its lack of an effect on me; I knew it couldn’t be too hefty. I was vindicated of this once I discovered this is only 5.7% ABV, which is actually a little light for an IPA.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I have to say that Lagunitas IPA took me by surprise in more ways than one. I was impressed by its versatility and drinkability, and while the palate was definitely inviting it didn’t quite blow me away. However, it’s one of the few IPAs that would lend itself perfectly to sessioning.

Grade: 8/10