Thursday, 2 February 2012

Two Classic IPAs: Southern Tier and Red Racer

Central City Brewing, from Surrey, BC, has received widespread praise for their Red Racer IPA.  Though I can appreciate the complexity of this beer, I think it goes too far on the hop front (without any temperence), which to me has a limit that (though increasing on my palate all the time) can be fairly high, but not to this degree.  Yet, for the hop-heads out there, or for those who want to see the allure of hops excess alongside some decent complexity, this beer is certainly worth a try and is currently available (for a limited time) at the LCBO.

It pours a deep gold to light amber with a frothy, fizzy, white head with moderate retention and excellent lacing. The nose is overwhelmingly grapefruit hops as is the flavour. It begins bitter and ends bitter with a medium length finish. It is dry and refreshing, however, and never puckering or astringent. Medium carbonation with a light-medium body go along with a 6.5% ABV (at approximately 80 IBU). It is a bit tingly, but not enough to hinder the assault of citrus hops! Yes, this is justly praised as a very good example of a hoppy-as-hell IPA, though, for me, it is still just a hoppy-as-hell IPA - even if one of the better ones.  Grade: B+

Southern Tier Brewing's IPA (also available at the LCBO and with 6.5% ABV, yet only(!) approximately 65 IBU) is much more my style and is perhaps my new favourite US-Style IPA.  This beer pours a thick, creamy, yet large-bubbled and foamy white head with fantastic retention and lacing, alongside a light amber body. The head allows for a good release of piney and floral aromas alongside some citrus, but there's also a toffee-ish malty sweetness, as this beer boasts 4 different malts and another 4 types of hops on the label. This continues in the taste, that is again of imbalanced hops primacy, yet characterized more by pine than citrus, though the (slight) malt sweetness makes for a pineapple sort of flavour that is a bit unique on the IPA front. On the tongue it is medium bodied and fairly well carbonated, yet creamy feeling. It is not necessarily quintessential of the style, but it is a very, very nice IPA and a very nice beer all around.  Grade: A

Anybody else have a comparison/preference between these two?

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