Thursday, December 3, 2015

2015 Advent Beer 3: Independence Pass Ale

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...
felt nothing.

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.

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