Sorry, there’s no Bing Crosby or Bob Hope here. They were headed to Morocco, not Idaho. But since all of VBR will be on the road starting today, I thought it only somewhat proper for our last review prior to #Brauheist2017 to focus on experimentation. I know what you mean, I was hoping to be done by 2018…ja, that’s true, we had big plans for 2018. And no, no, no, you demented freaks…#Brauheist2017 is nothing that involves the dreaded FLÜGGÅӘNKб€ČHIŒßØLĮÊN (NSFW!!) There may be a Golden Mile mixed in, for good measure. Really, we mean flavor and original beer styles. The kind that haven’t changed in 601 years, require lederhosen, and drinking songs that definitively AREN’T 99 Bottles of Beer. After all, we’ll be beards deep in the Reinheitsgebot for the next 10 days! Prost!
Road to Idaho, Hardywood Park Brewery (Richmond, VA)
American IPA, 6.6% ABV
Presentation: Tallboy pour into fluted Hefeweizen glass.
Appearance: Straw with a surprising amount of apricot and peach inflections throughout. Thick head with moderate dissipation, leaving mottled lattice strings after most sips.
Taste: I don’t care what the label says. I spent years of my life pruning juniper bushes in my front yard, and this beer screams it at me. It’s all over the nose and the finish, but more in a floral bitter sense than the belly warming gin & tonic one. Layered throughout are also strong grapefruit tones. I can get a trace of lemon if I try, but there’s very little in terms of fruit sweetness to be had here.
Mouth Feel: That juniper effect really hits the tip and sides of the tongue. You’ll get more of the fruit on the roof of your mouth.
Overall: Understanding that this is a small batch, pilot brew, I’d be curious to see how a 4-pack evolves over 2-3 months. Crack one open when it’s fresh, then once a month thereafter. I say that because the one I’m enjoying is two months old (thanks, mule…) and the flavor profile only barely resembles the label description. That said, I imagine that this is a beer which starts out prototypical American IPA, all floral and grapefruit, before over time settling into a malty, Juniper-laden tongue exercise. I really enjoy it right now, and what makes this a challenging review is that the featured Idaho 7 hops are experimental and not exactly universally loved at this point. I can see this varietal catching on just as Azacca has due to some similar qualities. The bite here is far more pleasant though, and more prototypical IPA. Grab some if you can, and complain to Hardywood if you can’t…just don’t offend your waiter.