My car died today in a big cloud of black smoke. It’s been something of a phoenix in the past but I don’t think it will wake up from this one. In mourning I am having a pair of India pale ales.
First up, from Central Waters Brewing Company in Amherst, Wisconsin, the Glacial Trail IPA. Central Waters has been making major progress towards becoming an eco-friendly brewery, installing 24 solar power panels as well as loads of energy-efficient equipment and building with recycled materials.
Glacial Trail is topped by a pillow of the creamiest head I have seen in a while. It has a healthy opal haze as well as plenty of yeast sediment. The hue is a beautiful gamboge. An herbal and citric nose opens up as it waits, revealing lemongrass, basil, sage, lemon, and orange. A bit of floral hops come through as well. The aroma is delicate but not mild; that is, you have to lean in to get it but once you do the hops take you for a ride. This IPA is most certainly fresh.
A significant earthy bitterness greets you immediately and doesn’t let up. Initially it is quite direct down the middle of the tongue, but it widens as the citrus flavor joins in. A bit of pale malt sweetness is present as well, probably from a light crystal roast. Quite bitter, with a bit of lingering sweetness, and very sessionable. And when I said it has the creamiest pillow of head I wasn’t kidding: at the end of the glass that’s still at least a centimeter tall.
Next up is the IPA from the brewery that brought you Moose Drool, Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, Montana. Theirs is called simply Big Sky IPA.
When asked to describe the Big Sky IPA my go-to response is “it’s a grapefruit punch to the face.” That might not sound pleasant but it is. Now that I’m tasting it ‘officially’ I notice that there is also a significant earthy hop character like pine, especially on the nose. Brilliantly clear and a tawny amber color, this IPA has an off-white head that quickly fades to nothing, the antithesis of that of the Glacial Trail. The aroma is strong with grapefruit citrus and some pine, with a bit of caramel breaking through the hops.
The taste is where the grapefruit character is almost overpowering. So citric it is just short of sour, and with a light fruity sweetness, this beer tastes exactly like eating a grapefruit. The sharp hop flavor is offset by a relative lack of bitterness and a shade of toasty sweetness. In a moment your mouth has neutralized most of the hop flavor and a mild citric aftertaste remains. The quite strong carbonation action doesn’t help make this an easy drinker, but I’ll have another if you will…
Bonus rating! When I was at Papago Brewing, a beer bar and sometime brewpub in Phoenix, I purchased a bottle of Rogue 10,000 Brews. I thought I had lost the review forever until I gave up hope. Then, while disc golfing, I discovered where I had hidden it. So here it is. (And just to generate buzz, it is this beer that made me decide to make the single hop saphir pale ale that I will brew this week.)
Made by Rogue Ales, the Ten Thousand Brew Ale has the look of cider: a milky cider brown that fades dramatically from light to dark. The nose is rich with exotic fruits like mango and pomegranate, and floral, slightly sweet, and alcoholic. The aroma reminds me of a brandy old fashioned.
The taste is just a bit too sharp. Very intense at first, it mellows and opens up as it warms and breathes. The 10,000 Brew has a spicy and fruity alcoholic flavor, something like a strong mixed (fruity) drink. A rich maltiness backs it up, with a lingering sweet malty and fruity flavor. Significant bitterness at first and also lingering and with a solid mouthfeel, this beer is quite complex. It moves from alcoholic to fruity to bitter to fruity again to musty to bitter again as I let it sit on the tongue.
Maybe you can see why I was disappointed that I lost this rating for several months?
Rogue Ten Thousand Brew Ale
Central Waters Glacial Trail IPA
Big Sky IPA