Sunday, December 2, 2012

545. Flat 12 Bierwerks Half-Cycle IPA

“If this is half of a double IPA, then they picked the right half.”

Flat 12 Bierwerks is one of the newer breweries in Indianapolis, IN—they’ve been open for almost a year now. We were in town for a cyclo-cross race for Elli, and afterwards decided some beer was in order. Not like that is a shock for anyone. The brewery is located in a slightly industrial area of town—well, at least according to our less-than-perfect understanding of the area, and the description on the website. It is also right across the street from Smoking Goose, although they were closed today. That would have made an awesome event even even more awesome.

Half-Cycle IPA is served in a 16 oz. clear plastic cup. Yes, plastic. While certainly a downside, if plastic is the only way I get to drink this beer, then I’m certainly willing to live with a plastic cup. Color-wise, the beer is a very orange copper with a minimal white head. Besides the clearly present bitterness, aromas are restrained and indistinct: the dominant non-bitter character of the nose was the orange. Just orange, too—none of the other citrus fruits, just orange. There is a touch of light candy sweetness if you really looked for it, and some dank and resin hop aroma, but not much else. As the beer warms, the bitterness drowns out the other aromas. Flavor is centered on hop bitterness as well. There is some bread dough and bread crust in the front, along with the orange from the nose, but hop bitterness quickly swoops in and rolls the rest of the way through into the finish. The initial clean tang of hop bitterness in the middle gives way to resin in the finish; there is a touch of orange that returns in the finish as well, and some lingering mineral bite on the back of the tongue. As with the nose, as the beer warms, the hop bitterness covers over the softer flavors, like the bread dough malt character in the front of the beer. The body is medium and lightly chewy—it is, as Elli noted, just well-rounded enough to hold the bitterness without really getting in the way, giving the beer body and backbone but not really intruding otherwise. The bright carbonation combined with the bitterness contributes to lightening the body on the palate as well. This is not a classic American IPA: there is far more hop bitterness than flavor and aroma, although via the hop volume flavor and aroma does bleed through. The closest equivalent we can think of is Smuttynose IPA, which also focuses on bitterness over flavor and aroma. As well, the lower ABV allows for big hop bitterness without a huge sticky body, certainly a plus when compared to the increasingly monstrous creations that are the current trend in American IPAs. Which is just another way of saying that this is a damn good beer—both of us were impressed not only with this beer, but all the other ones we tried before choosing this one. We also bought a growler to take home, and I’m already looking forward to our next trip to Indianapolis in two weeks so that I can savor a pint of their Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale—the sample I had was a delicate balance of roasted malt and hop bitterness.

From the Flat 12 website: “The Half Cycle is so named due to its marriage of single and double IPA characteristics. In baseball parlance, a single and double is half of “the cycle”, and this IPA is a heavy hitter. It’s a single IPA, hopped like a double, with an over-the-top hop character that’s a bit spicy, citrusy, piney, you make the call. Light in color, but not on flavor, Half Cycle is dry hopped with a pound of high alpha American hops in every barrel.”

ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 104.1

We also hit Brugge Brasserie for some dinner; I had the Pooka along with a steak and a mess of French fries. So so delicious.


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