Saturday night in Leeds, exactly one week from Christmas Day. Snow on the ground; fridge full of food. Nothing else to do but make a spicy Cajun gumbo and work through the American beers in the fridge. Again I should warn you that my palate remains at best charmingly innocent and at worst unsophisticated.
I’d bought the Green Flash Le Freak some time ago in Beer Ritz and sensibly should have had it whilst it was fresher. Nonetheless what is advertised as an American Imperial IPA meets a Belgian Trippel matches that description and is quite thick and very slightly bubblegummy with a solid bitter aftertaste. Kate’s not a fan of Belgian beers so I soon had the whole (9.2%, 1 pint 6 fluid oz) bottle to myself.
The combination of the viscosity, sweetness and bitterness was nice but I didn’t fall completely in love with it. I suspect it might have worked better for me if the hop taste was fresher than the aged bottle I had. Perfectly nice though. You can see Rob’s video review of this beer at Hopzine here.
I still had three American IPAs in the fridge that I’d brought back from New York in November, so I thought I’d better have them whilst they were good. I had specifically decided not to come back from New York with a suitcase full of beer, but we had a few left in the fridge in the hotel room on the last day, and I wasn’t about to let them go to waste.
First was the Lagunitas IPA. This turned out to be an oddly bland beer with the hoppiness almost tacked on at the end. After a while it came across like a fairly dull cooking lager but with a bitter aftertaste.
Next was the Smuttynose IPA. I’d had this on keg in New York and really quite liked it. It was slightly lighter in colour than the Lagunitas. The bitterness was more complex although not too punchy, with a good mixture of lemon and pine. Although slightly cloudy, it was a really nice, light refreshing beer, with a hint of detergent.
The Smuttynose IPA was very good match indeed to the spicy meat gumbo from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s America” book. Give the recipe a go if you get the chance.
Finally we had the Bear Republic Racer 5. I’d been looking for this beer for ages in New York, having read about it beforehand on Richard Burhouse’s blog amongst others. However, perhaps because it’s Californian, it was a bastard to find until I tracked it down on the penultimate day in a supermarket in Williamsburg.
Racer 5 turned out to be the best beer of them all: big flavours of mango, citrus and pine that worked really well together. If I had to drink only one American IPA for the rest of my life, it would certainly do, although right now I think my first choice would be O’Dell IPA.