Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA

The American-style IPA has been done to death, is there any way to re-invent it? I think that’s what Shipyard’s approach to their Monkey Fist IPA was. It’s sort of an Americanized version of a contemporary English IPA, but that’s just a guess. In fact I’m not entirely sure what this beer is supposed to be other than a sharp bitter bomb.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (815) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 17, 2013
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It cost $2.80 ($0.23 per ounce).

Appearance: Opaque rusty orange/burnt sierra hue. Forms an average-sized, white, foamy head which leaves minor lacing on the glass.

Smell: Flowers and soap with a subtle sweet malty scent.

Taste: The American IPA style is known for being deliberately unbalanced and hop-forward. However, intense bitterness does not a good beer make. Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA uses Warrior, Glacier and Cascade hops - two of these which are not often used that often because they do little more than provide for raw bitterness. Just one sip into this beer proves that. Yes, beers of this style are supposed to be bitter, but they’re also supposed to be flavorful. While the Cascade hop does impart minor pine and citrus notes, the other hops create for a sharp, very dry bitterness. It’s akin to saltwater or an IPA that has gone bad (this bottle still had a few months of freshness according to its nicked dates).

Needless to say, this is a rather one-dimensional palate. Sheer dry bitterness from beginning to end. There’s a subtle caramel or honey or other pale malt presence through the middle, but it’s not enough to offset the cloying aspects of the hops. To be fair, it’s at least a drinkable brew and hopheads will likely be able to appreciate it.

Drinkability: As much as Monkey Fist IPA smells like soap, the intense bitterness and dryness reminds me of trying to drink from a glass that wasn’t rinsed properly after washing. The mouthfeel is quite intense, even if the body itself is rather normal in terms of carbonation and texture. The lingering bitter aftertaste induces palate fatigue rather quickly. Though this would probably be ideal to pair with spicy food. It wouldn’t seem to be as big as its 6.9% ABV weight would imply, though I don’t see many drinkers throwing back multiple servings of this. 
Grade: 5/10

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