ALMOST LIKE A Belgian golden ale in appearance—somewhat hazy and maybe 5 SRM—Low Dive’s So What IPA comes in two dry-hopped varieties, Galaxy and Amarillo. Both are medium-bodied, 6% ABV, and highly bittered at 77 IBUs, but the lush freshness of both cultivars imparts such resinous and nectary flavors that neither beer is very aggressive.
The first is hugely redolent of Galaxy in all of its tropical glory: mango, honey, grapefruit (passion fruit, technically?) are all strong on the palate. Combined with a solid but not ostentatious malt midsection (a bit of crystal, but primarily clean pale malt), these flavors balance the bitterness completely. Perhaps even overbalance it, in fact, to the point where the finish feels almost more like grapefruit juice instead of assertive pale ale with bursting carbonation. The effect is slightly intoxicating, if unconventional.
The Amarillo variation is similar in appearance and initial impact, but with more pungent hop aromas. Though Amarillo can also have pronounced grapefruit qualities, here the impression was more catty, particularly in comparison to its Galaxy brother. Effervescence also seems stronger here, clarifying the finish better and doing more to accentuate the alpha acids in the hops, thus leaving a stronger impression of bitterness on the back of the tongue. Conventionally, then, its structure was superior the Galaxy version, but not quite so charming in its flavors.
Both ales need considerable improvement in clarity, but they are evidently still in the prototype stage and otherwise the template is quite promising. One might even fathom using the Galaxy version in some mutant piña colada. Some might name it heresy, but So What?
Served: 12 ozs bottled 12/26/13
Galaxy Rating: 87
Amarillo Rating: 85