I make no bones about my general dislike of most IPA’s. I view them as the meatheads of the beer world; no elegance, no creativity, just cram as many hops into a beer as you possibly can and then convince everybody that the awful, bitter, dry aftertaste is what beer is supposed to taste like. If you want to know what *I* think an IPA is supposed to taste like grab an Aroma Prieta because it is the best IPA that I’ve ever had.
It almost had to be. It seemed pre-ordained. At this point in my newfound dedication to trying new beers, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to find new beers to drink without hunting for them. When my fiancee and I headed to a local restaurant to watch some football, I perused the beer list and only spotted this singular beer from the list of about thirty that I hadn’t tried. “I have to,” I reluctantly thought to myself.
I say reluctantly because beers from Drake’s have always let me down. I want them all to better than they really are. A great example is Drake’s IPA, which epitomizes everything I don’t like about the IPA craze in general; it’s too bitter, too dry, and I just can’t tell that the brewer had any skill. All of the beer people I know tell me that Drake’s does great stuff but if they do, it hasn’t been for me.
The waitress takes our food and drink order complete with record-skip sound shocked face when I order the Aroma Prieta. “That is my favorite beer that we’ve ever had,” she says. My mental calculation is like: +1 for the decent beer selection in this bar, +1 that a trusted fellow beer lover and bartender says that these people know their shit, -1 for it being a waitress compliment, +1 for her noticeable shocked/pleased face. Aside from the quick accounting I didn’t have a second thought and returned to watching college kids concuss each other for my enjoyment. The beer eventually came out, I took a drink, and then loudly exclaimed “Holy shit,” as I couldn’t contain myself.
What does it taste like, you ask? You actually taste the hops; the full floral sucker-punch right in each one of your taste buds. The flavor continues to unwrap as it envelops your tongue and proceeds down to your belly. And once it’s down there it has the good graces to leave your mouth full of pleasantness rather than bitterness. And there’s no awful dryness, either. Good flavor and good balance. You immediately know that all of the equipment was spotlessly clean and sanitized, that the recipe was refined until it was perfect, that the brewer hit every temperature, had the stopwatch ready at the start of every step, and simply nailed it. In reality, probably none of this happened, but it comes across that way. The way the rich, full, floral hop taste slowly melts into the Caramalt and big-bodied Rye will hook you like cocaine. If you’re an IPA “purist,” there are 75 IBUs of flavor waiting for you as the beer is double dry-hopped. The fruity New Zealand varietal hops are what give this beer it’s initial flavor, and this being my first sampling I want all IPAs to use hops from New Zealand. Let’s make it some sort of law.
Please drink this beer. Be warned though, as you can’t go back. After drinking one you’ll forever know what people can do with an IPA and it may well ruin you. But sometimes you have to push the big red button because the temptation is just too great, even if it blows up the world.