Schlafly American IPA - The Saint Louis Brewery, Saint Louis
India Pale Ale. If ever there were a type of beer I hated hearing the name of more than "adjunct lager" it'd have to be IPA. There seem to be too many IPAs on the market already, but they just keep coming. At a certain point my tastebuds shut down and the only signal they send to my brain is, "well, it tastes like hops... that's about it." It's not that I hate the style, I just hate that it has become a game of one-upsmanship. Who really wins when you just cram more and more hops into a beer until that's all you can taste... I didn't finish that sentence with a question mark because I already know the answer. Just like my tastebuds, I've pretty much shut down when it comes to IPAs, I generally ignore them unless I have a good reason to remind myself what too much hops in a beer tastes like.
That intro is a bit rough... because Schlafly's American IPA isn't a bad beer. You can see by the rating I gave it above that I actually liked it quite a bit, but more on that in a minute. My point is this, there are a lot of IPAs on the market... probably too many but that is just my opinion. Why would anyone pick up this new American IPA over any other IPA on the shelf? To me it seems like market saturation, eventually IPAs will be the new Snuggie. Everyone has their own knock off and innovation doesn't matter. Maybe that's a bad example because how would you innovate with a Snuggie? Leg sleeves? But enough about that... I got my hands on a growler of the newest IPA on the market and, for the moment at least, I've forgotten there was ever another beer called India Pale Ale.
My first experience with the AIPA was not unlike that of your average 16 year old. I drank it from a plastic cup that was served to me by a man driving a van. I'm serious. It wasn't as creepy as it sounds. Actually, it was quite delicious. I remember my first impressions were, "wow, this tastes like maple..." The guy with the van had to take off and he left the growler with me. After it spent the night in the refrigerator, I decided to crack open the AIPA and see if it was as good as I remembered. Sure enough, it was.
I poured a couple glasses of the AIPA got right down to business. This beer, perhaps because it'd been in the growler for a while, didn't have a strong aroma. There were some hints of citrus but no big hop aroma like I was expecting. There was, however, a noticeable malt presence. The body looked like I was expecting, it was a dark orange, copper color with a miniscule head... again, probably because the growler was nearing the end of it's days.
Where the AIPA got my attention was when it hit my palate. The first thing you notice is the sweet combination of sweet caramel malt and fruity hops. The hops are richer in flavor, not the crisp, bitter hops I was expecting. The flavor reminds me of light maple syrup or honey. It's sweet and a little thick on the tongue. That coating helps ward off the bitterness that accompanies all IPAs. The AIPA isn't a hopbomb and therefore doesn't have the tastebud stripping bitterness some IPAs pack in. The finish of the AIPA is subtly bitter, but it builds as you drink your way through the glass.
Having finished the AIPA, I can definitely say this is an IPA I'd have a again. It may not sound like a ringing endorsement but it's something I can't say about many IPAs. I'd like to hear a hophead's opinion of this beer. Is it too sweet, not showcase the hops enough? Either way, I'd recommend this to anyone who may be as burnt out as I was on IPAs. It's a great example of how to pack a lot of hops into a beer while avoiding the bitterness pitfall most IPAs suffer from.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was given this growler of American IPA by a Schlafly representative. It was given to me from the back of a sketchy looking Schlafly van in an alley, possibly laced.