Friday, February 17, 2012

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale (2011 edition)


Obviously Christmas is long gone, but that doesn't mean I can't review a beer that was released last holiday season. When this beer first came out I didn't pay it much attention, but then I started receiving a lot of comments and messages that it was a MUST TRY. I eventually got around to it after Christmas while at The Ruck. It was amazing and I immediately called every beer store in the area to see if there was any left. Of course there wasn't. Then Ryan said he could get this beer and since we were trading I asked him to please throw in a bottle of this and sure enough he did. Thanks Ryan! Now, will this beer be just as good a few months later?

4.7
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (618) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 16, 2012
Pictured: the 2012 edition
I appreciate breweries with a sense of humor, whether subtle or obvious and in the case of Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale it’s clear they were going for irony of Orwellian proportions. It most definitely does not suck, in fact it’s close to absolute perfection. A beer with amazing, delicious taste, smooth drinkability and is very versatile. The only thing that sucks about this beer is that it’s not a year-round offering.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Bright orange color with only slight haze; some carbonation bubbles visible. Forms a large, bright white, frothy head which retains and laces beautifully.

Smell: Magnificent bouquet of fleshy tropical fruits (i.e. mango, papaya, guava, passion fruit); noticeable sweet candy-like aroma too plus organic flowers. Extremely inviting.

Taste: Sometimes you know a beer is great when you drink it quickly because you enjoy it so much. I drank Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale in about five minutes because it was so delectable. The palate matches the nose perfectly: a strong, delightful and delicious palate of tropical fruit, candy sweetness and prominent hop bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm. It’s akin to tropical fruit juice mixed with hops and Spree candy.

The palate begins with a sharp, somewhat dry hop bitterness. Then the fruit flavors of grapefruit, passion fruit, guava, et al come rushing in. It’s a wonderful combination of hop bitterness and hop-derived fruitiness. I’m guessing this beer was made with Citra and Amarillo hops. I get a strong orange character which imparts some tartness, but not acidity. There’s noticeable sweetness too, like fruit-flavored sucker candy and it finishes with just a bit of resin or pine on the back end. The hops linger on the tongue and are rather dry, but so do the fruit flavors. A very pleasant sensation all around.

Drinkability: This is a beer that rides that fine line between single and double IPA in terms of robustness and complexity of palate. The hops are the star of the show, as it is quite bitter, but its bitterness reading seems a little low at 63.21 IBUs. The ABV, however, seems a bit high at 7.85%. It doesn’t have the bulk or density of a beer that strong and there’s no alcohol presence whatsoever. The delicious taste is made even better by the fact the beer feels so comfortable in the mouth and goes down so smoothly. A full-bodied palate for sure, yet it doesn’t feel thick or sticky. Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale is versatile, too, as it would be ideal for spicy food pairings, but its tasty enough to enjoy as a dessert. When’s the last time you could say that about an IPA?!
Grade: 10/10