Monday, November 7, 2011

491. Laurelwood Gearhead IPA

Let the goodness reign down! Back from the excitement of both my father’s 70th birthday party and a delightful case of food poisoning (nothing says good times like throwing up an only partially digested fancy cheeseburger—thanks, Red Robin), I come bearing a box of the Northwest’s finest offerings. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the Deschutes soon enough. Today’s offering is from Laurelwood, which we sadly haven’t seen in a while, not living in the Northwest and all. We can add this one to our previous encounters with Workhorse IPA and Prevale IPA, and note that Laurelwood is another reason that Portland is better than Dayton. Sure, we could make a list going the other way (let’s see what you’ve got, Jeffrey), but I don’t feel like courting disappointment right now.

Gearhead IPA proclaims its Northwest roots right out of the gate. The nose is pine, evergreen, and resin (it gets almost spicy as it warms) hop aroma up front with a touch of floral and citrus in the background—Elli gets more of the citrus than I do, but she has a better nose. There is also a faint caramel sweetness in the nose, although less in the body. Flavors open with bready malt mixed with pine and citrus hops before dropping into the bitterness of the middle. There is a good dose of evergreen hoppiness in the middle coupled with a touch of biscuit malt that slowly transforms into the resin of the finish. The caramel flavor does make a brief appearance in the final third—almost as a break between the evergreen and resin hop flavors—but mostly it functions to balance the hop flavor, aroma, and bitterness. In the finish, the lingering bitterness is bright and refreshing: it is the evergreen hop equivalent of the feeling you get after you are done brushing your teeth with mint toothpaste—that pleasant tang sitting in the back of your throat that makes orange juice taste so bad (and no, I didn’t try some orange juice to compare). While the body is medium, it is rather dry, in part an effect of the brighter carbonation. The flavors are a bit muddled in the middle of the beer—they are not as sharp and distinct as I could hope for—but that is more a quibble than a real flaw. For Elli, the finish could be cleaner—she wants less of the caramel in the final third and brighter, more distinct hops at the end. At the same time, Gearhead is a still a solid and enjoyable beer; it is bright and easy to drink with a subtle complexity that rewards those who take the time to unpack the pieces. And that fresh hop breath it leaves you with is something worth coming back for.

From the bottle: “Gearhead IPA is brewed in the Northwest tradition of generous amounts of aroma hops, creating layers of citrus and piney aromatics and flavors, while managing to strike a balance with moderate malt body. This crisp and refreshing beer will provide you with complex and resinous aromas.”

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 60
OG 15° P
Stamp on label, which I am hoping is the bottled date: 9/28/11

Love the awesome mustache...


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