Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brown's Harvest IPA

They say you never get another chance to make a first impression, which I agree with. However, I do believe in second chances. Sometimes if I have a beer that’s surprisingly bad I’ll go back to it later and see if it was an isolated incident. That’s certainly the deal with Brown’s Harvest IPA. I originally dumped my first bottle just a couple weeks ago because it was terrible. I contacted the brewery and they told me they’d give me another bottle from another batch (thanks, Brown’s!). Though this particular bottle didn’t blow me away, I do detect a similar off-flavor that was much more prominent in the first bottle. I’ve also had this beer on tap and it was vastly superior. I’m not sure what accounts for the differences in flavor, but this review is based on the second bottle.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (733) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 25, 2012
I poured a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Very clear shade of coppery orange with fine carbonation visible. Forms a large, off-white, frothy head which retains and laces wonderfully.

Smell: Dank resin syrup with a slight earthy astringency to it. A hint of burnt rubber or some kind of phenolic component in the nose.

Taste: I’ve had this beer a few times and I notice it’s a little different every time. On tap it’s akin to a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale or any of their wet hop brews. In the bottle it’s a different animal altogether. It begins with a slight sweetness with caramel and toffee and other light malty flavors. There’s an underlying dry, sharp bitterness as well, but the hops really come through on the second half. The palate then changes on a dime to dank, astringent, resiny bitterness. The first bottle I had of this was so astringent that it was like drinking gasoline (hmmm... maybe astringent isn’t the apt term, then). I tasted the same flavor the second time around, but much less intense this time.

Whatever this off flavor is, I’m going to chalk it up to the fact this is a wet hop ale and brews of this style tend to have that rustic character. It’s akin to black tea extract and gardening soil, plus some kind of juice concentrate. There’s a subtle syrupy flavor here, but it’s not as delectable as in many double IPAs with a strong sweetness to the palate. The bitterness re-emerges on the finish and the hops definitely linger on the tongue. That’s not to say it’s a bad palate, just an underwhelming one.

Drinkability: This is probably the most robust beer Brown’s brews (though far from their best one). Those averse to hops should probably avoid it because it does have a strong bitterness - seemingly close to triple digits. Still, the drinking experience is fine as the mouthfeel isn’t too thick or chewy, but nice and soft with a creamy texture. The bottle indicates a potency of 7.2% ABV, which seems totally on the money (perhaps even a little low). There’s no alcohol booziness in the beer whatsoever, and I had no trouble drinking an entire bottle myself. I’d highly recommend pairing Brown’s Harvest IPA with a spicy meal or sharp cheese. 
Grade: 6/10

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