Ah, here we go careening into another cold winter season. Time for all the porters and stouts to come out and fill us with their lovely, malty sweet, roasty-toasty, warming – I’m just kidding, everything is an IPA now.
Let’s just get it out of the way right now: I love IPAs, but when the weather takes a turn for the frigid, the first flavors that leap to mind are not citrusy floral concoctions. I’m looking for something that reminds me of warm fires, holiday meals, wood smoke and pine — the sort of flavors and aromas that define the season. Even fall seasonals, which have traditionally been Oktoberfest-style Marzen lagers or even the atrocious pumpkin beers, are now taking a back seat to IPA seasonals.
What. The. Hell?
So I picked up Grey Sail’s Wheelhouse Fall Limited Release, the SOS. The picture on the can shows people at night, in a forest, around a fire, with a smoky SOS floating above them and a beautiful reddish sunset sky beyond that. It’s deceptive, because in the shadows of the trees are the tiny glowing faces of Jack-o-Lanterns, eyeing the foolish lost humans as if they are to be the next meal for the monsters of the night.
And with all of that imagery, what would you suspect this beer is? A smoky marzen? A pumpkin porter? A roasty stout? No. As you might have already guessed, it’s an IPA.
All right, well, I’ve done enough complaining. I always judge these brews based on the beer itself, and not on what it should or shouldn’t be… Well, usually. So it’s a New England IPA that’s dry hopped with Vic Secret, which is the third coolest name for a spy I’ve ever heard. It pours a solid gold with significant cloud. It’s completely opaque, which doesn’t bother me a bit. Its aroma is that of light, citrusy tropical fruits. On first sip, I get light, citrusy tropical fruits. Definitely some mango, kiwi and passion fruit, on a light, sweet malt body that has a wonderful effervescence and a slight lemony aftertaste. It’s one of the best summery-tasting IPAs I’ve ever had, which just makes everything else about this beer’s labeling and time of release absolutely baffling. And yes, I know people drink IPAs year round. And that’s fine. But you could have wrapped this can in a label depicting people on a beach throwing mangoes at each other.
All my petty complaints aside, this is a really gorgeous IPA with bright flavors and one of the best hop bouquets I’ve ever tasted. Grey Sail brings the quality yet again with an IPA that might even put their legendary Captain’s Daughter to shame. I cannot stress this enough: Despite my whining, and it is whining, this is a truly phenomenal IPA. Pick up a pack for that friend who loves IPAs, or try this truly delicious IPA yourself.
As for me, it’s 40 degrees out, and I’m going to go and try to find something that tastes like chocolate with a nice warming ABV and a thick body to chase the chill from my bones.