There seems to be an emerging pipeline from the Tidewater area up to NoVA these days, but what’s most peculiar is that it’s direct into the small bottle shops and not the bigger retail stores. One would think buying power would play a role with the wholesalers and distributors, yet when my feeds alert me I’m only too happy to duck into the store(s) around the corner. That’s especially been the case with Benchtop, who immediately flew onto our radar after their GABF win in 2017 and has impressed us more and more with each successive visit or tasting. They didn’t even have to bribe our local shops up here, because the word got out quickly enough that the only Benchtop appearances at the shops that seem to last more than a day or two are the growler fills. Quality sells, ya’ll, and with beers like this one we need to continue talking about Benchtop along with the other IPA Titans of VA.
Lazy Flocculation, Benchtop Brewing Co. (Norfolk, VA)
Double IPA, 8.0% ABV
Presentation: Can pour into a tulip.
Appearance: The core is a semi-opaque mandarin, ranging all the way out to goldenrod and a more cloudy, Wittish gold.
Taste: Echoes of grapefruit and orange greet you as you first bury your nose into the glass. Some dewy freshness pulls through, as well. The hop aromatics translate well into the body. It’s a crisp citrus, neither too juicy nor too dry. The dew sensation becomes hyper-assertive in the finish, with a wallop of citrus before a very late, brief hop bite. Incredibly refreshing from first whiff to last sip.
Mouth Feel: Great heft across the palate, playing from tongue to gullet, cheeks, and lips even. The hop bite really accentuates and teases your bitter receptors without gumming everything else up.
Overall: Let’s be clear – this is not a juicy New England IPA. It’s certainly hazy in an East Coast fashion, at the same time presenting more sweet than hop-centric aromatics and flavors. I thought similar during our other Bench Top review to date, and just as with their crazy gold-medal-winning Oyster Gose, these sorcerers seem content to play along the fringes of beer categories to seek out unique flavors. Maybe sometimes it won’t work, but once again in a beer like Lazy Flocculation, you can get so many layers of flavor, all simple and easily identifiable. It’s refreshing, balanced. It’s a Beer of the Year candidate, and then some.