Sunday, December 5, 2010

437. Left Hand Warrior IPA

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! That’s right—around here, Sunday means racing: cyclo-cross racing. Which means early mornings and lot o’ driving for yours truly. We rolled out and hit the road by about 9 am or so, our destination Smith Farms for the Cap City Cross 2010 Series. And while Elli put on a ridiculous number of layers to fight the cold, I lamented the lack of snow with which to pelt her with snowballs as she rode the course. Alas. After Elli’s triumphant second place finish in the Women’s 3/4 race, we opted for brunch rather than hanging out for the Women’s 1/2/3. Too damn cold. Hello Northstar Café, and tasty deliciousness. Post-breakfast, we opted for the celebratory beer at Bodega. Elli went with Sierra Nevada Celebration, while I went with Left Hand Warrior IPA. Oh, and previous beers from Left Hand include Oxymoron (the collabo with Terrapin), 400 Pound Monkey, Fade to Black and Milk Stout.

Warrior IPA has a juicy and tropical fruit hop nose; as it warmed, a strong strawberry jam aroma took over. Flavors open with a slight caramel malt taste coupled with some juiciness before giving way to a combination of bitterness and tropical fruit—pineapple, mango, and papaya—along with a strong pine and resin component. The finish is lightly chalky, accompanied by a bit of fruit flavor and spicy dryness, with the dry bitterness lingering on the back of the tongue. Warrior IPA has a medium to medium-heavy body that feels drier than it is on the palate via the hop bitterness, and a medium carbonation. The malt profile is pretty sparse in relation to the hops, regardless of comments made about the “malt presence” on the Left Hand website. While the overall hop bitterness was pleasant and well done, the disjunction between the nose and the body in regards to fruit and pine was very uneven—it felt like each should belong to a distinctly different beer. The jammy nose coupled with the initial tropical fruit flavors was a distraction from the pine and resin later in the body—the odd combination never quite gelled at any point in our drinking. As well, the slight return of tropical fruit in the finish didn’t mesh with the spicy and chalky bitterness. An interesting experiment, but overall uneven.

From the Bodega menu: “Wet-hopped Warrior hops provide for a fresh, unfiltered hop flavor.”

From the Left Hand website: “Full of fresh hop flavor, this fresh-hopped IPA has become an annual cult classic. Brewed only once a year using fresh whole flower Colorado hops flown in from Rising Sun Farms in Paonia by Schwall and Spears Hop Freight Service. A strong malt foundation complements the bright floral hoppiness, allowing for a well-balanced drinkable IPA.”

ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 69
OG: 16° P
Malts: Pale 2-row, Crystal, & Wheat
Hops: Fresh Colorado grown Cascade, Warrior, & other local community contributors

The collabo is collabolicious.


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