BREWERY: Smuttynose Brewing Company
BEER: FinestKind IPA
Malts: North American 2-row, Crisp Pale Ale, C-60
Hops: Magnum (Bittering);
Simcoe, Centennial, Santiam, Cascade (Flavor/Aroma);
Amarillo, Centennial (Dry Hop)
FROM THE BREWERY:
“You could say, then, that Smuttynose IPA is a physical salute to the glory of the American hop grower. The citrusy hop flavor coming from a mixture of Simcoe and Santiams is pleasantly balanced by a smooth bitterness from the Amarillo hops. The beer itself is light bodied and crisp with a golden color that will throw a slight haze, as we bottle it unfiltered. At 73.5 IBU’s, this is definitely not a training-wheels IPA, but is meant for hop lovers looking to satisfy their craving in a way that’s not easy to find. We think they’ll be quite pleased.“
I had collected a number of IPAs in the early Spring to get these reviews started, and the FinestKind IPA by Smuttynose Brewing Company of New Hampshire was a no-brainer. Long hailed as one of the greatest IPAs ever made, not adding this to the short list to review wouldn’t be fair. I grabbed a full six pack of this (not messing around with just a single in a build-your-own sixer), and have finally gotten around to
praising reviewing it.
The story behind this beer is basically a tribute to the massively hopped beers of yester-year that had to survive the voyage from England to the East Indies, as well as a tribute to the American hop grower. It does this quite well, and at 73.5 IBUs, it can pack a punch to the weary.
Once the top is popped, do yourself the favor of taking a good whiff of the air trapped under the cap before pouring. The aroma gives you fair warning the hop-experience (hopxperience?) you are about to embark on. After pouring, the beer forms a thin, slightly weak white head atop of golden yellow body with enough haze to hint that it was dry hopped.
This beer features some of the best utilization of hops, and serves as a fantastic example of the IPA style. It features a bright aroma to complement the bitterness (which at 73.5 IBU, doesn’t overwhelm you with bitterness). There is enough malt backbone that comes through to provide a complement to the hop, but also stay out of the spotlight. The balance is spot on. The last post on the GO WEST! IPA by Anchor Brewing did a lot of these same things I’m complementing here quite well – I just didn’t appreciate how it was calling itself ‘NEW.’ Also, where GO WEST! featured a mix of hop flavors, the hops featured here all bring a similar citrus component that play in harmony, instead of competing over the taste buds.
CLOSING THOUGHTS and WHERE TO BUY
For me, and for so many others, this beer does serve as a sort of standard for what an IPA should be – hop-forward with pronounced aroma; a strong bitterness that doesn’t destroy the pallet; enough malt to balance the hop and keep the tongue from being numbed from the bitterness. While there are certainly a collection of delicious IPAs being made in the Craft Beer world, I would not hesitate to put this one up there with the very best. In New York City, this beer can be found in nearly any grocery store with a decent selection. While its certainly not a beginner IPA, its one that all beer enthusiasts need to try.
RATING: 73 out of 100 (first beer on the new system!)