Lexical Gap

Image courtesy of Pollyanna Brewing Company

Image courtesy of Pollyanna Brewing Company

I thought my interest in IPAs was waning until I opened a can of Lexical Gap (Pollyana Brewing Company, Lemont, IL).  My interest in our wonderful language and its correct usage will never wane, so I had to find out what a lexical gap was.  Anyway, the can (yes, canned beer, how retro!) of Lexical Gap pished a hoppy/malty whiff right into my nose.  Lexical Gap pours a hazy gold with a frothy white head and a goodly amount of carbonation, and that head collapses into a lovely, lacy tangle.  Perfect so far.  The bouquet is piney with a touch of sulphur.  Sounds “interesting” but I assure you it’s nice.  It’s “brewed with massive amounts of Citra, Centennial, Simcoe, and Columbus hops” so your hops jones will surely be satisfied by Lexical Gap.  Lexical Gap is dry and hoppy, but a rich, saliva-thickening maltiness does a good job of deflecting some of the attention from the hops.  The mouthfeel is smooth and the 7.3% ABV is well concealed, but you start to feel it after half the pint is gone.  If you enjoy a long, dry finish Lexical Gap will not disappoint.

The fact that canned craft beer is become more popular is interesting too.  Glass bottle snobbery, of which I was guilty of, is becoming less of a thing.  Paradigm shifts are good.  Cans are good.  I pour my beer and let it breathe and warm for a few minutes anyway, so some of my snobbery will always remain.

An excellent IPA, and it’s brewed a mere 3 miles from my home, so I feel good about drinking local.

90/100 IPA

Ranger India Pale Ale

Image courtesy of New Belgium Brewing

You may notice a theme here lately.  IPAs.  My favorite style.  The hoppier the better.  Ranger India Pale Ale from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO is the next in the series of IPAs in my beer fridge.  Simcoe (for aroma and bittering), Cascade (for that citrus/grapefruit essence) and Chinook (spicy, piney notes) hops are used in this medium gold, crystal clear and lightly carbonated IPA.  The bouquet off the head of Ranger India Pale Ale is just a bit skunky, maybe earthy is a better adjective, but it is mainly piney with some toast or biscuit, and a touch of metal guitar string.  I know, it doesn’t sound appetizing, but it works.  The head is generous, white and very lacey.  More hoppy goodness greets the tongue, and the sparkly, lively nature reveals the carbonation.  Some malt helps balance the hops on the back end, but the dry finish reminds you that Ranger India Pale Ale is about the hops.

85/100 American IPA

Torpedo Extra IPA

Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada website, and a beautiful image at that.

Torpedo Extra IPA from Sierra Nevada called and I answered.  I needed something hoppy to counter the malty effects of Oktoberfest beers.  Torpedo pours deep, golden orange and holds on to its prominent, lacey head for a long time.  There’s some rust in the bouquet up front, but once the head recedes enough to get a whiff of the actual beer there is some pine and some citrus.  The deepness of the malt comes with the first taste, and then the nice texture and smooth mouthfeel can be enjoyed and appreciated.  The taste is somewhat sharp, bitter and piney, but a thick sweetness tempers it a bit.  Deep in that sweetness is a hint of peach, interestingly.  All in all this is a good brew, although not as hoppy as I had anticipated, which is probably a good thing for drinkability.  The fact that it is a 7.2% ABV beer is something you’ll notice half way through your first one.  Pretty strong and very good.  84/100 IPA

Stone IPA

If Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, CA) makes it, I like it.  Stone IPA is deep gold, vigorously carbonated and holds its 2-finger head long enough to make a mess of your mustache, if you still wear a mustache.  The 70s are long gone, my friend, long gone, but the classic rock remains.  Anyway, the sweet smell of pine, citrus and floral hops will waft off your mustache and tickle you nose.  You can about smell the dryness. It’s a bitter hop bomb, substantial but not heavy.  The dry finish and lingering bitterness are nice souvenirs of the Stone IPA trip.  82/100 IPA

Hoppy Feet Black IPA

Black India Pale Ale?  Is that oxymorinic?  Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet by Mercury Brewing Co., Ipswich, MA, is indeed a black IPA.  It does have some hints of burgundy, but it is certainly dark, and can produce a very generous tan head and a slathering of lace.  Hoppy Feet has a hoppy bouquet, as you might expect, with a hint of orange and some yeast, and maybe some smoke way back there.  It has a lot of interesting taste characteristics:  hoppy, rusty, yeasty, bitter, coffee.  The texture is smooth and the finish is very dry and bitter.  It’s good, and it’s an interesting spin on an old style.  This is not a sipper, like a lighter hoppy ale might be, so be prepared to enjoy a big steak w/ onions and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on it.  If you drink it without any food to accompany it, you will find it too bitter for too long I would wager.

Single Wide IPA

Single Wide Appeal.

Whoa, Single Wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO, pops when opened and pours with a HUGE head, lots of random patches of lace and the perfect amount of carbonation.  Single Wide IPA is slightly hazy, thanks to the extra yeast used for bottle-conditioning (thus the pop!), and light to medium gold.  This is a photogenic brew, for sure.  The bouquet is sweet and flowery, not overstrong, and very appealing.  I find notes of orange/citrus deep in the bouquet, and lots of pine.  The texture of Single Wide is silky and the body is on the lighter side.  It’s very drinkable, with the sweetness of the malt balancing well with the initial onslaught (maybe too strong a word to describe it) of the hops.  There a good-feeling bitterness that lasts and lingers in the finish.  This is a very good, accessible IPA.  Sometimes beer drinkers try to show how cool they think they are by drinking ultra hoppy beers, and with Single Wide you get a good dose of hops without hanging out the beer snob sign for all to see.  87/100 IPA

Hop Czar Imperial IPA


Hop Czar - GET SOME!

Hop Czar by Bridgeport Brewing Company, Portland, OR, is an Imperial IPA to get excited about.  I’ve read some reviews that question the Imperial-ness of Hop Czar, but that is neither here nor there.  Hop Czar is GREAT!  Let’s start with the wonderful bouquet that is released as soon as the bottle ($3.99 / 22 oz., 7.5% ABV) is opened.  Hop Czar has a prominent hoppy presence as you would expect, but it is quickly buttressed by a solid, malty wall – absolutely perfect.  This IPA is deep gold with a touch of pink, floats a giant, creamy head and leaves more Brussels lace than a Belgian seamstress in the early stages of dementia.  The first sensation that hits your mouth is a dryness that the massive quantities of piney hops within produce, and is soon followed by a smooth mouthfeel and then WHAM – the hops explode on the palate.  Finally a substantial malt follow up brings the experience to a satisfying close.  Dry, bitter, sweet and delicious.  You want a kick-*ss IPA that is not so over the top that you don’t want a second one in the same session?  Hop Czar is the one!  94/100 IPA