Red has long been the color that signifies anger. We see it when raging, bulls charge at it, and that little button that always threatens global nuclear war seems to fancy it as well. It only follows that I could only take so much of this red can glaring at me like the eye of Sauron every time I opened the beer fridge. "Too long has it watched me. Too long has it haunted my midnight snacks." (I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote from Tolkien) While I'm ready to finally sample this brew, I may have second thoughts if I have to throw the One Ring Tab into Mount Doom in order to finish it. OK, enough Lord of the Rings references. Let's pour!
|I'll never get tired of juxtaposing cans next|
to big, fancy tasting glasses.
This smells like a big, damn IPA. Pine and resin are front and center, ready to take on all comers and they brought back up. Citrus fruits are abundant and one can easily find grapefruit, lemon zest, and pineapple without searching too hard. Put those fruits together and you've got one acidic combination. Alongside the citrus are the malts that smell like dark caramel candies that have just begun to crystallize. They provide the semblance of balance, but this is a true hop-leaning IPA.
It doesn't pour especially thick, but everything else in its appearance says that it is. The head is stiff and barely moves when first poured, the bubbles slog around the glass slowly when swirled, and there's a pretty nice amount of lacing. This looks a big beer. The color is phenomenal! I can't even call it copper; it truly is a red beer. Though there are shades of copper in it along with magenta, ruby glints, and bright sunset oranges. Wow!
After the first two categories, this beer has raised its expectations exponentially and, for the most part, meets them. First to the tongue are the malts. They're somewhat brown sugary sweet, show caramel, and have a nice authentic grain flavor to them, but they fall short of the dark, rich, sugary notes detected in the aroma. Things then lighten a bit and become a distinct, delicate citrus. This citrus is not what one would expect given the plethora of hop aromas, but it does blend extremely well with the malt's more sugary notes and the resinous bitter that has taken shape. If this brew sits in the mouth long enough, it turns almost entirely bitter and it's not hard to believe the label's 99 IBUs. Slurping really lets the spicier notes of the hops come forward. The finish is another example of the hops present in this beer! They're a deep, inky bitterness that quickly vanquishes any of the prior flavors and lingers to prevent any hope of a clean finish.
Note: This particular beer was canned on 12/13/11
This is a monstrous, full-bodied IPA. All the malts make this beer a giant, but without feeling syrupy. It has the carbonation to thank for that. The bubbles are so diminutive, but span the border between acting as "normal" carbonation and lending the beer a creamy texture as it foams ever so slightly. At 6.2% ABV, there is no noticeable warmth, but on a good, deep slurp you may sense some among the spicy hops.
Overall Impression 7/10
A great first impression likely ruined by deteriorated hops. The aroma is huge, the appearance spectacular, and the mouthfeel is spot on. The flavor is wondrously malty, but the depth of hop flavors is lacking at this point. Not to say that they are absent, but they're not what I caught in the aroma: pineapples, grapefruits, pine, resin, and lemon. I would be very interested in reviewing a fresher sample. The fact that this beer scores this highly even under the suspicion of hop deterioration speaks very highly of it. A fresh can could yield even higher marks.
Dammit, even though I kept this can in ideal conditions I feel that may have spoiled a great drinking experience by trying to hold on to this beer. This is the second review in a row where this has happened (although the first one may have already been older as it was from a trade), and it really motivates me to get cracking on all my hoppy beers! Long story short, this is a great beer as is, but I can only imagine it fresh. If it has all the hop flavors that I think it might, this beer is an out of the park home run. Looks like I'll be visiting those relatives in Minnesota sooner than I thought.