Friday, January 27, 2012

Bent River - Dry Hopped Pale Ale

If I'm spending the entire day in the Quad Cities unsupervised, you better believe that I'm going to be hitting up some great local craft beer!  Today's review is for Bent River's Dry Hopped Pale Ale.  I didn't have a camera with me that day, so I apologize for the lack of pictures.  Before I start this review, let me just say that I can't wait until this brewery has an opportunity to be "discovered" on a larger scale.  Let's pour!

Pic blatantly stolen from their website.
Aroma 11/12

This absolutely reminds me of the Bell’s Hopslam I had 2 days ago!  It starts out a bit piney, but quickly turns sweet and eminates aromas of dried pineapples and mango.  The hops in this are amazing and make a veritable tropical fruit salad for your nose.  The best part is… IT’S STILL COLD!  I can’t wait to see what else comes out as this beer warms.

Appearance 2/3
The head wasn’t monstrous, but then again the bartender (whom I just met) made sure that most of the head was poured off for me (good work, Justin).  What head remained appeared white in the dim light of the brewpub and remained as a disk on the beer for as long as I wished.  The color is a dark, earthy, pumpkin orange that glows a bit more golden toward the bottom.  I won’t say that the beer in unfiltered as I don’t see any sediment, but there is certainly a haze at work that under better lighting conditions could lend itself well to displaying a variety of hues.  If I can see that it's cloudy in this light, it must be an extremely cloudy brew.

Flavor 18/20
Only briefly is one exposed to a bright citrus flash before the sweeter, more tropical backbone arrives.   The mangoes from the aroma are abundant as is the candied nature of a dried pineapple, but without any of the pineapple acidity.  To hold the beer in the mouth accentuates a splendid hop bitter that shows a strong presence while going a long way to balance out the tropical sweetness.  The mangoes are present everywhere, even when on the back of the tongue during the finish.  Eventually they fade after the beer is swallowed and a moderate bitter rests on the tongue like a pill you didn’t swallow soon enough.  The after taste is a less intense version of the bitter, with no sweetness, and is somewhat drying.

Mouthfeel 4/5
This is a very full-bodied, big beer!  The heavy body helps rein in all the monster flavors present and gives the carbonation a free pass on being just higher than desirable.  Not in its quantity, but its somewhat prickly nature.  The foaming action in the mouth doesn’t lend any additional smoothness, but does help the experience from becoming too heavy as a whole.

Overall Impression 10/10
I enjoy this beer immensely!  I’ve never encountered hops that provide such a strong flavor & aroma outside of an Imperial IPA.  While this doesn’t have the caramel sweetness that traditionally comes with such a strong hop presence, it is not needed.  The hops in this case provide all the sweetness in a delightful and powerful mango tone.  The only thing needed to balance out those hops is… well, more hops.  The bitter note balances the mango nicely and makes this beer anything but sweet.  The body is also a great attribute to this beer, though easy to overlook after such a striking flavor and aroma.

Total 45/50
In case, you couldn’t tell I really enjoyed this beer.  Technically, it’s not the most complex thing on the planet.  However, the hop presence is soooo delicious in all its forms that I find it hard to justify any sort of lower score.  A beer doesn’t have to be complex to be good, right?  True, it helps, but a beer that can impress me while maintaining its simplicity is also deserving of praise (even if it might be more difficult to achieve a perfect score).  Mango and bitter.  Bitter and mango.  That tandem carries this beer to a delicious success.  If you’re even in the area, find it.  If you like Hopslam, find it.  My next growler is this beer, no questions asked.

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