The Oracle is a big American Double India Pale Ale from Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, Michigan. The nose has lemon and caramel. The middle is loaded with caramel, orange, lemon, and a bit of pine. The pine starts to come forward and assert itself in the finish, but the citrus remains. This is a fairly simple, iconic DIPA. All of what one might expect, and not a lot else. It’s tasty and well executed, and a great example of the style. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is a stout 10% ABV.
I give this a 4.5 out of 5.
Six Rights IPA is a double IPA from Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude series, designed to be balanced to deliver something everyone will enjoy. It is indeed beautifully balanced. Light citrus, tropical fruit and floral hops are on the nose, and the middle is heavy with pineapple, plum, bread, and orange, and pine and a bit of grapefruit coming forward in the finish. The balance of malt and hops is perhaps the most even and well executed as I’ve ever tasted in a double IPA. The body is heavy and the alcohol is a reasonable 8.0% ABV. Another outstanding beer from Sierra Nevada.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
Par 4 is Noda Brewing Company’s low alcohol session IPA. The head is creamy and light, and the nose is very nice, with scents of grapefruit and lemon. The middle however, really lets it down for me. It is more flavorful than the average session IPA, (which is one of the drawbacks of the style, to me) but it’s very one-dimensional with powerful shot of bitter lemon and little else. This ale is brewed with oats, and a bit of that soft oaty goodness comes forward in the finish as the bitterness fades fades, and a hint of grapefruit comes through. The body is medium and the alcohol is 4.0% ABV, which is perfect for a session beer. I love NoDa, but for me, this was not one of their best, though I don’t have a lot of love for session IPAs as a style in any case, so it may be as much me as the beer.
I give it a 3.2 out of 5.
Recreation Ale is Terrapin’s session IPA. Session IPAs, for those new to the term, are designed to be drunk in greater quantities than a traditional IPA, so are lighter in body and bitterness, and have a lower alcohol content than a traditional IPA. The nose is lemony and malty, the middle is more lemon and some very light pine, and the malt comes back forward in the finish with a touch of honey flavor over just a hint of piney bitterness. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is a nice light 4.7% ABV. This is a nice, if undifferentiated session IPA.
I give it a 3.8 out of 5.
Hop ‘Em High is an American Double IPA from the Lonerider Brewing Co. of Raleigh, NC. The nose is caramelly and floral. The middle has sweet grapefruit and orange, a hint of pine and citrus rind. The finish fades to brown sugar and plums with just a hint of pine remaining. The body is full, and the alcohol is a reasonable 8.5% ABV, though this drinks like a bigger beer. This is a solid, nice American DIPA.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Continuing with beers from right here in Charlotte, Fake Plastic Trees is a hoppy wheat ale (think wheat IPA) from our friends at Birdsong Brewing Co. To start, the head is heavy and creamy, as befits a wheat ale, and the unfiltered golden hue is hazy. The nose has orange, lemon, and lemongrass scents. The middle is hop-forward with an American IPA profile (lemon and hint of pine) but served on a bed of wheat toast. This fades to bit more lemon and some grapefruit in the finish with the wheat continuing to balance things out and soften on the tongue. The body is medium and the alcohol is moderate at 6.4% ABV. This is a fun mash-up between a wheat ale and an IPA that will probably be best enjoyed by IPA fans.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Orpheus, of Atlanta, Georgia, is really good at hoppy beers. I mean, really good. and Transmigration of Souls may be one of their best. It’s a double-IPA that Orpheus calls “overpowering” but it isn’t overpoweringly bitter; it just has huge flavor. The nose has lemon and orange. The middle has orange, grapefruit, pineapple and butter. The finish is smooth, without a lot of change in the flavor though a bit more grapefruit comes out and a tiny hint of pine resin right at the end. The body is medium-heavy to heavy, and the alcohol is 10% ABV and quite subdued.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Tarrapin calls this a California style IPA, which I take to mean West Coast. However, I’d call this more of a traditional American IPA with some tropical notes. The nose has orange and lemon, and some floral overtones. The middle is more citrus and some pineapple. There’s a bit of pine and a bit of peach in the finish. The body is medium and the alcohol is a pleasantly light-ish 5.9% ABV. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but that doesn’t take a way from what is a very nice, unique beer.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
By Ballast Point Brewing Company of San Diego, Sculpin is one of the best West Coast IPAs out there. The head is sticky and hangs around, the nose is of grapefruit, honeysuckle and floral. The middle is sharply hoppy with clean pine fading to grapefruit, then to apricot and lemon in the end. Mango and peach are also advertised notes in this brew, but I’m not getting them, at least not in this bottle. No matter though…It’s excellent as is. One of my all time favorites for sure. The body is medium-ish, and the alcohol is a respectable but not overpowering 7.0% ABV.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
Slap Fight India Pale Ale from Monday Night Brewing of Atlanta, Georgia is a lovely little American IPA. There’s lemon on the nose, more lemon and some pine in the middle giving it quite a bit of bitterness, and a bit of grapefruit in the finish. There’s not a lot of complexity here, but for hopheads like me who enjoy a nice bitter IPA, this really hits the spot. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is a nice summer-weight 5.8% ABV.
I give it a 4 out of 5.