Left Hand Brewing – Warrior IPA

Left Hand WarriorIS NOT THE purpose of a wet-hop IPA to be the ultimate of freshness? For the hops to leap from the glass and put down new roots among one’s taste buds? A small exaggeration, perhaps, but in any event wet-hop ales should never require deep sniffing to pull out their prime qualities. For their attempt at the style Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, Colorado looks to farms in Paonia, not 300 miles west. Admittedly, that’s further than Plzen lies from München, but in this modern age such spans are crossed swiftly enough for hops to hit to the kettle still farm-fresh. Or at least it should be.

Warrior’s name comes from its prime bittering cultivar, which rarely stars in a flavor or aroma leading role due to its generic profile. Indeed, to base a beer around such a neutral strain is rather odd, especially for a style that should bloom with verdant freshness. Perhaps for this reason fresh Cascade was also added, and its stamp of grapefruit, pine, and honey is clear on the nose. Warrior hops primarily contribute a slow growing bitterness on the back of the palate, assertive at 69 IBUs but not quite enough to overpower the light caramel malt character of its basic grain bill. The 7.6% ABV is present somewhat in texture—a slight slickness that accentuates the medium body (approximately 3 Plato)—though in flavor it is minimal. And that’s the beer in brief: clean and fresh, but lacking the forceful nature of its name and presentation.

Served: 22 oz bottle best by 1/24/14

Rating: 85

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