Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Northwest Passage (Flat Earth Brewing, St. Paul, MN)

Northwest Passage IPA
Northwest Passage IPA is the "hoppiest IPA in the Midwest" according to  Flat Earth's description.  The 115 IBUs is a combination of Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade and Columbus hops.

As can be seen in the picture, this IPA is a light straw colored ale with a slightly off white head that lingers nicely.  While appearing light, the 6.5% ABV points to a fair amount of malt in the beer to balance the bitterness.  Light biscuit and caramel serves as base for the complex fruit nose.  Not an overly assertive nose, but a combination of layers of fruit: standard grapefruit, lemon, clementine, and a host of citrus hiding a light spiciness and floral background.  Taste follows nicely from the nose--clean, complex fruit and a pleasant hop bite that demands notice but doesn't burn crazy stupid.  As with all big IBU beers, balance and perception are key, and this one does a nice job.

I've reviewed this one before on BA, and it looks like a different beer.  Guessing the bottle I have tonight has some age on it, so the hops have mellowed a bit.  Only takes a few months for hops to degrade, and I picked this one up from the bottom shelf of the local liquor store that does a nice job for a quick six pick up but isn't the center of the beer world.  Again, this Flat Earth beer seems to be significantly under-rated to me.  I'm slotting this beer to drink from a growler to get a clear reading fresh from the brewery.  There may be some point-of-sale issues with the reviews, and a growler may clarify the issue.

For comparison, here's my original BA review:
Coppered colored ale that's straw gold around the edges with stark white head that lingers nicely. Big hop nose with grapefruit under grassy spice and fresh mowed lawn. Clearly lots of hops--115 IBU by the website from a combo of Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, & Columbus (according to a Four Firkins description). Clearly, northwest hops seems like a great idea. Sharp hop bite, but not overwhelming. Chewy from hops, and the grassy notes continue in the mouth. Can feel the acid linger on my tongue. I like it quite a bit, but can see where it might put off those that don't like chewing on hops. Mouthfeel seems a bit light, but that's what let's the hops shine through. Very nice beer for a fall evening.

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