making a session IPA these days, but only a few brewers are brave
enough to experiment with the style. I appreciate that Baxter Brewing
Company chose an eclectic combination of hops and included green tea in
theirs. At only 4.2% ABV, “Ceremony” has a lot going for it.
I poured a 16oz can into a mug. There was no freshness date and it cost $4.75 ($0.30 per ounce).
Appearance: A very hazy shade of maize/mustard yellow. Pours to a fairly
large, white, soapy head which laces and retains pretty well.
Smell: Herbal hops are quite prominent as is green tea. Some pine and earthy notes are present; interesting.
Taste: The indicia on the can describes this having flavor of the West
Coast and Far East. While I would agree that the usage of green tea does
give it an Asian characteristic, I would disagree that the hops are
“West Coast” in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy Mosaic,
Chinook and Sorachi Ace hops – but they are not citrusy or tropical at
all; rather, they are grassy and herbal. There’s a consistent
spicy/savory flavor from beginning to end on this palette – something
hop heads will enjoy and appreciate. The green tea comes through on the
finish to act as a bit of a cleanser and create for a slightly
sweet/juicy sensation. There’s a substantial amount of malt base as well
to give the beer real body and backbone – this isn’t just hoppy water
like some other SIPAs.
Drinkability: Whenever I see a very low ABV on a beer’s label I’m eager
to try it since I’m impressed by beers that do more with less and at
only 4.2%, Baxter Ceremony does a lot with so relatively little. Of all
the session IPAs I’ve had, I don’t recall any having such presence in
the mouthfeel; this is medium-bodied with consistent carbonation and
crispness. If I were drinking this blind I’d assume it was closer to
5.5-6%. That being said, this is not an especially refreshing brew – not
that it necessarily should be. These hops linger longer than most SIPAs
and are a bit drying. Still, it’s a versatile brew that’s strong enough
to stand up to a meal, but light enough to session. Well done.