My, what a strange adventure it’s been to get our hands on this beer, and what a glorious ride this sixtel is getting in the kegerator. Since I was first gifted the device about a year and a half ago, I’ve had a few different beers on my radar, most of them from here in NoVA with a few national selections from stalwarts such as Bell’s. I would like to think I’ve done a good job tracking down the beers from my original New Beer Resolutions, with some exceptions owing as much to antiquated distribution laws as overall effort. Mad Fox falls into this category, as their distribution to this point has remained small even after signing with Virginia Eagle. Last Summer I spent a significant amount of time talking to the latter before bowing to the legalities and playing roulette among special orders at a few stores. Then, when all hope seemed lost during my most recent round of calls, and just days after a new batch hit the walk-in fridges, I got a reply. My sixtel of Orange Whip had arrived.
Orange Whip, Mad Fox Brewing Co. (Falls Church, VA)
India Pale Ale, ABV 7.5%, IBU 75
Presentation: Draught pour into stein.
Appearance: Ruby core with deep orange highlights. Some defiant, deliciously creamy head left some lattice to the top of the glass but the rest of the pour didn’t leave too much webbing.
Taste: Right up front you’ll see this is not your typical IPA. A sweet caramel and brown sugar nose segue into a glazed orange body which lacquers the back and sides of the tongue. A very small amount of tartness more approaching a zest starts the finish, and about a minute later subtle bitters reminiscent of a light liqueur such as Crema Catalana reveal themselves. This is unlike the overwhelming majority of Pale Ales you’ll experience, be they American, Indian, Imperial, Belgian, or Martian. That last one seems made up, but even then it won’t compare when we’re brewing on the Red Planet decades from now. A good comparison would be towards some of the English Bitters such as the Chiltern Ale or Sharp’s Doom Bar, but the main difference here is the sweet citrus body.
Mouth Feel: This is a pleasant beer to sip on, especially as it warms towards room temperature. The hop presence gives you 75 IBUs, but the Crystal Malts are present in such strength that this is almost a dessert beer. The zestiness is from acidity in the flavor more so than the presentation, and it’s a comfortable beer to swish around or let settle on the tongue.
Overall: My first forays into craft beer included my all but avoiding IPAs. It took my palate a solid year to adapt from the more traditional German styles that I preferred into what I then considered to be hoppy American behemoths. Back then, my hops limit was somewhere around 35 IBUs. Pale Ales were a bit easier, but the Orange Whip was the first IPA I truly enjoyed, and it showed that you could load a beer with hops without literally numbing the taste buds for hours on end. The Citra Hops I’ve come to know and love since weren’t even a whisper on the wind several years back, but indeed with the Orange Whip it aided my transition into a bigger world of beer. The only knock on the Orange Whip is that it truly is on the sweeter side so mileage may vary, and I often find myself (gleefully) content sipping on a single pint. At same time, enjoying one outstanding beer over an hour (or two) can be far more satisfying than guzzling what in some cultures would pass as horse urine, and that’s why we’re all here, right?