Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dark Horse Brewing Co.: Crooked Tree IPA

I have mentioned to a couple of my friends that, while there are certainly a handful of quality breweries out here on the East Coast, per capita, they just don't have nearly as many top-flight breweries as the west coast. I don't know why this is--whether the west coast has better ingredients, higher demand, or just more ingenuity. I also suspect that there are probably more than a few East Coasters who would quibble with my diagnosis. In any event, I had basically concluded that California and Oregon (and perhaps Washington) were a league apart from any other state in the union. Well, I may need to revise that and add Michigan.

Yes, Michigan. Don't ask me why. In addition to Bell's, whom I've blogged repeatedly before, I've discovered two more quality breweries: Dark Horse and Founders. I'm gonna try to chalk up a number of brews from these establishments in the coming few months. Let's start with Dark Horse's Crooked Tree IPA.

The IPA is generally an exercise in hop flavor cultivation. The trick is to make a brew that brings out delicious hoppiness as strongly as possible without feeling like you're sucking on loose leaf tea. But the truly great IPAs, in my opinion, figure out a way to compliment the hop assault with another flavor. And that's where Crooked Tree excels. This IPA has a delicious combination of almost fruity flavors that pops out at you: something sweetly citrus like a clementine. The sweetness is complimented by a pleasant-though-mild malt backbone. Then the hops rolls in--a combination of leafy and earthy flavors that is bold to be sure, but that doesn't entirely obliterate the other flavors. And to top it all off, the flavors are balanced quite nicely, so that despite this brew's flavor intensity, it remains refreshing throughout.

This is definitely one of the better brews I've had in the last few months. Do yourself a favor and grab one. Though I don't know if this one has made it out west yet.

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