Fellow hop-heads, take note.
After brief flirtations with English Ales and Ambers, we're back to our one true love: India Pale Ales. You know, the beers that those of us with masochistic tendencies like to drink to punish our tongues. The kind of beers that make the hottest hot sauces at BBQ rib-joints so much worse. The kind that require full glasses of water in between to mellow out the harshness of the bitter, bitter hops.
And we found a surprisingly good one.
The Cape Ann Brewing Company is a seemingly small brewery located in Gloucester, Massachussetts. They make 4 year-round brews (Kolsch, Amber Lager, IPA and Winter Lager) and two seasonals (Pumpkin Ale and Doppelbock), all under the name "Fisherman's". Their Fisherman's IPA was a nice little session India Pale we tried since we liked the label so much.
Cape Ann Brewing's website describes the Fisherman's IPA thusly:
64 IBU's , 5.5% ABV. Same exceptional quality 2 row barley as the [Fisherman's] Brew [amber lager], flavored with 6 exotic hops for a distinct hop character! Well balanced and very flavorful.We couldn't put it better ourselves. But we'll try anyway.
First off, the look of this beer is damn near perfect. It pours a big, thick and chunky dark orange. It's cloudy like a glass of cider. It has a big, proud head that just hits the rim of the glass without spilling. (How does it always know?) It's beautiful to look at. Even the lacing is good. It's the ideal IPA, visually. It's so good I almost didn't want to drink it, but you can't drink your IPA and keep it too.
The aroma is a fantastic-smelling cavalcade of piney and bitter hops, with that fresh-smelling "wet-hop" aroma. (You hop-heads know what I'm talking about.) The pale malt aroma is a nice counter-accent. There is also a surprisingly pleasant oak flavor added for no apparent reason. Looks good, smells good. How about the most important thing?
The flavor is seriously bitter, woody hops. The pale malt base is the perfect balance. The hops are seriously, SERIOUSLY bitter, but yet they have a nice sweet finish that grants mercy upon our ravaged tongue. The hops are wet and oily, just the way we like 'em. And that bitterness dulls as it warms, so all the flavor is there, but less of the palate-abuse toward the end. It does leave a bitter film on the tongue.
It's full-bodied and thick, but also goes down smooth; a difficult balancing act. Now, we're not going to lie to you and say you'll be able to tangle with this bitter old sea merchant all night long, but it's perfect when you just want a blast of hops, but also want it balanced -- as opposed to some overloaded, Pine-Sol smelling, classically over-hopped Imperial IPA.
This Fisherman is a bitterness you should catch.