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American Quadrilogy

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.

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  1. December 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for posting the link to my review.

    Le Freak is one of the best beers I’ve had this year…stay tuned to http://hopzine.com to see what my Beer of the Year was.
    Its so darn tasty and is so easy drinking. Love it!

    Racer 5 is one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had if not the best. Its close run with Port Brewing’s Wipeout IPA.

    Lagunitas IPA is a big average in comparison to their fantastic Hop Stoopid.

    Smuttynose IPA, I’m not sure I’ve had this. It was on at GBBF but I’m not sure it came on by the end of Trade Day. I had Big A on both cask and bottle and its pretty good. Its a firm favourite of the “IMASOFAT”‘s on Youtube.

    I agree Odell is fecking amazing, its on par with Goose Island as the perfectly crafted IPA.

  2. December 20, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve had Hop Stoopid a few times and it’s great.

    Can you get Racer 5 here? I’ve had a quick look and can’t find it on the online retailers. I wonder how difficult it is to set up as an importer of US craft beer, because it’s a dead cert to be a hit.

    Will keep an eye on Hopzine. Not sure what my beer of the year is; I think it would probably have to be Mikkeller/Brewdog I Hardcore You.

    • December 20, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      No, someone brought back Racer 5 from the US but The Rake have had it on draft in the past.

      As for importing, its very tricky as most great breweries can only just cope with the demand in the states. But I’ve hear we should be expecting a few more US breweries in the new year. Online retailers are always getting new and exciting American craft brews.

  1. December 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

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