Time once again for some local beer, this time in the form of The Brew Kettle from Strongsville, OH. I’m drinking this beer out of the sweet new 50 cl glasses we scored via our recent wedding (thanks David and Phyllis!). And you know everyone loves beer swag—well, except maybe for this guy. In addition, I’m spending my evening copy-editing PLD poems (hence the book in the photo)—after all, aren’t academics and beer a natural mix? Yes, I’m working hard to set up the semiotic joke that is coming below. Anyway, this is our third beer from The Brew Kettle; previously, we’ve partaken in Four C’s and Old 21. I sense a theme...
White Rajah IPA pours a light tan/copper with a white head that quickly rings the glass. The nose is combination of pine/resin, citrus, and tropical fruit, with the most prevalent aromas being pineapple, mango, and passionfruit backed by grapefruit. The pine and resin are deeper and more in the background—as well as a touch of Belgian candy sweetness. I’d be tempted to call this dank, but that might seem overly opportunistic, and we can’t have that now, can we? (For recent discussions of dank in the blogosphere, see here and here—I do love the semiotics of beer—go language!) This beer is certainly West Coast in the nose, and, more precisely, Pacific Northwest as opposed to Southern California—it is simultaneously bright and earthy. So good. Flavors open with fruit and a slight metallic tang—there is citrus, mango, and orange marmalade hop flavor mixed with pine and resin hints before the clean candy sweetness and bitterness takes over. The middle is bitter but clean—there might be a touch of biscuit, but no harsh or astringent characteristics. Again, that paradoxical bright and refreshing character mixed with a resin-y musty loaminess (yes, I am intentionally avoiding the aforementioned reference here—so sue me)—let’s call it the magical combination of fruit, evergreen sap, and fresh mushrooms. The finish has a brief touch of caramel along with an evergreen hop flavor and bright lingering bitterness to close out the beer. There is also a touch of alcohol warmth that tickles the back of the throat as the beer warms. The body is medium while the carbonation is present but not really tangible; as it warms, the Belgian candy sweetness and slight caramel flavor increases, but this is still mostly a showcase for our little green friends. The abundance of hop flavor also leads me to believe that this beer benefits from boatloads of late addition hops—I’m calling hop-bursting on Brew Kettle, not that calling that is a problem. While it is slightly more of a NW IPA in the nose than the body, that’s just splitting hairs. And I do like it: White Rajah is one of the best examples of a West Coast IPA I’ve seen outside the West Coast—Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA probably still gets the overall nod, but the Brew Kettle did its homework on this one. Nice work on this one—the sooner White Rajah hits the regular rotation, the sooner I can punch that ticket on a regular basis.
From the bottle (and the website): “White Rajah: A West Coast style IPA full of citrus-like and tropical fruit-like hop flavor and aroma with an assertive yet smooth bitter finish...malt, take a back seat please.”