I find this whole turn of events off-putting.
This morning, I hustled downstairs to retrieve the daily gift of Advent Beer, popped open door number three, reached in to grasp the neck of the bottle and...
Panic swept in almost immediately: had the packaging collapsed, dropping one bottle into the compartment below? How could I retrieve it while maintaining the surprise? Or had this package somehow been been shorted a beer?
My fingers swept the inside of the corrugated cardboard compartment, looking for a mis-angled bottle, a telltale hole, or perhaps a ransom note, when they brushed something circular and familiar: the top of a can.
Now, had I read the side of the box, I would have noted that, indeed, 4 of this year's selections do come in cans as opposed to bottles. There is a growing movement towards canning amongst craft brewers, once the sole domain of corporate macro breweries. I don't have anything against cans, per se, but the associations still make it difficult to associate characterful beers with this particular style of container. Having said that, I have had more than a few very decent micro-brews from a tin, going back quite a ways to Mill Street (recently purchased by AB-InBev), so I am doing my best to be open minded.
Independence Pass Ale (IPA) by Aspen Brewing in Colorado decants as a hazy golden-orange sort of affair, with a decent if impersistent head which turns to lace fairly swiftly. A hop-forward scent, with elements of both floral and citrus notes, and no mustiness at all.
Tremendous mouthfeel with a hop intensity that is simultaneously assertive and restrained; very well balanced with the malts. At 62 IBUs, this is a strong IPA, not a Double IPA of the "I Dare You To Drink This" school. Pete has turned me on to some stupidly-hopped stunt beers, and you know what? In the right company, on a hot day, they can be delightful. On the whole, Independence Pass Ale is a more enjoyable experience for me, moderation of hops and all.
There is a bit more sweetness than you might expect, no doubt due in part to the 7% ABV, but it keeps this ball in the air as well as the others. Overall, this may be one of my favourite IPAs to date.