Thursday, October 24, 2013

Upstate Brewing I.P.W. (2013 original review)

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (994) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 24, 2013

I poured a 16oz can into a weizen glass. There was no freshness date. A four-pack costs $9.99 ($0.16 per ounce).

Appearance: A bright, but hazy shade of golden/orange. Some carbonation visible. Pours to a small, white, frothy head which doesn’t evaporate and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Spicy European-style hops with hint of citrus and a distinct wheat character (not Bavarian yeast, though).

Taste: Every American brewery is making an India Pale Ale. If you want to set yourself apart from the pack you have a to be a little innovative. I suppose that’s the notion behind Upstate Brewing I.P.W. (India-style Pale Wheat Ale). Though using wheat in styles other than weizens isn’t all that new, this beer is marketed as an IPA/pale wheat ale hybrid. It also uses an unusual hop selection - opting for sheer bitterness rather than true hoppy taste. But truth be told it’s actually not a bad beer at all - just a good one with the potential to be great.

The first thing I notice about I.P.W. is the assertive bitterness. This isn’t surprising considering its use of magnum hops which are high in alpha acids. There’s a slightly spicy, cracker-like taste throughout the palette, a bit reminiscent of a German or Czech pilsner rather than an American IPA. The can indicates the beer is 70 IBUs and I definitely believe it. There’s sharp, dry bitterness on the finish and a slightly starchy aftertaste. It’s a fine taste to be sure, but a bit unbalanced and simple. Up the wheat character and opt for citrusy hops and you’d really have something I bet.

Drinkability: When I was pouring the beer into the glass (aggressively, I might add), I was surprised to see how little foam formed. The mouthfeel was also a bit thin and tepid - kind of like one of my homebrews that didn’t carbonate fully. However, this helps make the strong bitterness a little more palatable as the beer is comfortable in the mouth and smooth going down. It’s easy to drink in larger gulps. At 6.5% ABV I could see this pairing well with a meal, but one can is satisfying enough. 

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