80-84...85 not pictured.

Welcome to another round of India Pale Ales. No matter how many of these we drink, there are always another fifty of these wonderful hoppy ales in the fridge to try. This time we even added a sixth to the proceedings as we had extra time and no one was around to tell us not to!

I really like the line up we had for this round. We have a well thought of craft brewer, Goose Island, a craft brewer that I don’t think gets enough press, Dundee, a highly reputed craft brew that you can’t get in St. Louis, Dogfish Head, a wonderful Scottish Brewer, Belhaven, a new to St. Louis craft brewer, Green Flash, and an English brewer, Greene King.

Goose Island IPA (5.9% ABV)

Goose Island IPA

Nik: This beer has a very strong cascade hop aroma. (I love that one because it’s the only one I can list by name.) It’s head is small, but very long lasting. It has a very opaque and cloudy color that is very amber. It has a good woody and bitter taste. It is very good and quite frothy all the way down.

Bob: Re-visit of the first IPA I ever tasted, at one of the Chicago airports during the early 1990s. Had a flight of Goose Island brews and decided I liked this one best. It poured to a cloudy pale gold, with an wonderful hop aroma and a small but lasting head. Very pleasant bitterness at both first and after taste. Overall, a most excellent beer that continues to be for me one of the finest IPAs I’ve tasted.

Dundee IPA (6.3% ABV)

Dundee IPA

Nik: I really have come to like Dundee beers, but I can’t think of ever hearing anybody say anything about them on Twitter. Am I alone? This IPA is foamy with great lacing and a great, golden, copper color. It has great clarity, but a weak hop aroma. The hop taste is a bit weak, but it’s been nicely bittered. This beer is good, but not great. Not as good as some of their other offerings.

Bob: Poured to a light amber color, very clear, with an excellent small-bubbled head and good lacing on the glass. A distinctly different, more vegetative and milder hop aroma as compared to the Goose Island IPA. Not unpleasant, just different, probably owing to selection of hop varieties. Nice bittering and a good aftertaste. Not necessarily the best IPA out there, but nothing I would turn down either.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (5.0% ABV)

Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA

Nik: This ale has a very big foamy head. This one was a bit darker with a golden bronze color with crystal clarity. There’s a very strong roasted aroma to this beer and a strong roasted flavor to match. This is the most unique IPA I have ever had.

Bob: Generally unavailable in the St. Louis area, this is a renowned East Coast beer I’ve been wanting to try, and one I urged my companion to bring back from a road trip. It was a clear medium yellow in the glass, with a fine small-bubbled head that laced the glass nicely. When compared with the first two we tasted, it was obvious from the aroma that yet another hop variety or varieties was present here, as the mild and pleasant aroma was very different. The best way I can describe the taste is to say that it stays high in my mouth, nose and head rather than settling in the lower edges of my tongue. Some burnt notes in both the aroma and taste, and the bittering is milder than many other IPAs. This beer was interesting, but ultimately not as satisfying as I had hoped and something of a disappointment. Perhaps it is better on tap at the brewpub.

Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA (5.3% ABV)

Belhaven Twisted Thistle

Nik: This beer has the Belhaven nose, which I just love so very much. Their Scottish Ale is all about balance and I had some high hopes for this one. As with their flagship ale, this one is very frothy and has a very similar bronze color. This beer is hoppier than their normal beer, and it’s very malty of course, but it’s more moppy than hoppy. I was hoping for a stronger hop taste. It’s just too close to their Scottish Ale for me.

Bob: Another brew for which I had high expectations, based on other excellent offerings I’ve had from Belhaven–Scottish Ale and Wee Heavy. This attempt at an IPA was light amber and slightly cloudy in the glass, pouring to a full head that did not last very long. Exhibited the “dirty socks” aroma that seems to be typical of all Belhaven brews and probably a reflection of their hop choice. The taste was very malty for an IPA, but much bitterer than their Scottish Ales. Overall it seemed to be an experiment gone somewhat awry. Neither fish nor fowl, it didn’t score highly as either an IPA or a Scottish brew.

Green Flash Hop Head Red (7.0% ABV)

Hop Head Red

Nik: As the name implies, this beer is quite red indeed and it has a foamy head and a great aroma. After we poured this bomber and I tasted it…I have to say that I was underwhelmed. I was sure I tasted it wrong. So, on the second taste, it was just plain bad. The bitterness was wrong. That’s the only way I can describe this and on the third taste, I dumped it out.

Bob: Was also looking forward to this because of previous experience with this California brewer’s other products. Had a wonderfully piney aroma upon opening the 22 oz. bomber bottle, and poured with a nice tan tiny-bubbled head and a dark amber color. Unfortunately that was the best of ith experience, as the taste and aftertaste were nasty, with strong accents of cardboard. Generally very unpleasant, and neither of us could get through our tasting glassfuls. (Follow up: not believing it could really be this bad, I insisted on capping the bottle and saving it for another day. After two days more in the fridge I tried it again and found it very drinkable, though still strongly bitter. Not my favorite IPA, but not the total disaster we experienced on first opening the bottle.)
Greene King Export IPA (5.0% ABV)

Export IPA

Nik: This IPA has a great bronze color with a thin, tight bubbled head. It has a weak, English ale aroma. (Shocker I know.) What really surprised me was that it has no hop flavor to it, but it’s very malty. I loved this beer as an English Ale, but I can’t love it as an English IPA, because it’s seriously lacking in the hops.

Bob: This British attempt at an IPA seems to be redundantly named. Perhaps a hundred years ago India was simply considered a part of the Empire, but it is not today? The beer poured a medium amber color, with a decent but mild aroma and a good head. Very pleasant balanced aroma of both malt and hops was mirrored in the taste and aftertaste. This is a nice offering, easy to drink, and I wouldn’t turn it down if someone offered to buy a round at the pub. It isn’t, however, what I think of as an IPA, because it just isn’t hoppy enough, at least compared to American IPAs. I’ve heard that the British Isles no longer make anything like what they shipped to India long ago (before the days of refrigeration.) Judging from the two examples we tasted here I have to feel that Americans have now taken the IPA lead permanently.

  1. Eric says:

    I have not tried all those beers, but I do really want to try the Goose Island IPA. I have heard many good things about it. But i have tried Hop Head and it really didn’t like it. I am a hop addict, like many beer drinkers, but this was not good at all. I drank it because I do not believe in wasting beer, but I will never waste my money on it again.

    As a random side note, keep these beer reviews going. Love reading them and them help give me new ideas about what to try next.

    • The 13 Blog says:

      Thanks! That Hop Head man…it was just flat out BAD…yuck yuck.

      We were hoping to get in 100 beers this year, but Bob and I both fell ill at different times, and our tastebuds were shot…so it looks like we’ll come in short of the 100…but in the 90’s.

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