Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beer Review: Lips Of Faith Super India Pale Ale

Reviewing the Lips Of Faith Super India Pale Ale, a collaboration brew between Alpine Beer Company and New Belgium Brewing that is part of New Belgium's ever more interesting Lips Of Faith series.
Score: 92

Released in the middle of August 2012. Served in a Half Acre tulip and enjoyed on 09/05/12.

Appearance: Pours a nice clean, muted honey color with a finger of off-white seafoam head that settles to a thin layer. Slightly below average lacing, but really good retention and cling. 4.5/5

Smell: Huge notes of dank grapefruit, sweet citrus and resiny pine smack you right away. A touch of spice/horseradish is interestingly blended into an earthy caramel aromatic backbone that sits on the front of the nose. A hint of earthy rose as well. Very nice and surprisingly complex for an IPA. This one has an intriguingly complex IPA aroma. 4/5

Taste: Holy bitter and earthy caramel malt bombs Batman! This malty IPA walks the line between barleywine and IPA, tilting towards the barleywine. Super IPA is a lot more earthy on the palate than I imagined, though I suppose the nose gave me plenty of fair warning. Layered on top of the maltiness is a nice fresh, juicy and hoppy grapefruit flavor. The bitter, earthy malt backbone to this beer -- a mix of caramel, spice, onion, (not Devil Dancer 2011 onion, but fresh Deviant Dale's pale ale-like onion) and dank, slightly resinous mulch -- really lingers on the way back of the tongue like crazy. There's a little pine overlaying the malt backbone too, but the malt is really the star of this show. Fresh, this beer is a nice malty IPA; however, I could see this one turning into a real disaster when the juicy hops, which give the beer some balance, fall off. At 9% ABV, I guess there's a chance this ages like Three Floyds Behemoth, but it's malt profile reminds me much more of Avery's Maharaja (which I hated aged). As it warms and layers, this beer gets increasingly bitter -- which balances the malt nicely. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, light-medium carbonation with a bitterness that sits heavy on the back of the tongue. Very oily mouthfeel. Malty and bitter, but not sweet. 4/5

Overall: An excellent bitter, malt-forward IPA. Think Maharaja meets Hoptimum. This one is not quite on par with Alpine's better IPA offerings (though I enjoyed it as much as Exponential Hoppiness), but it is nice to see an Alpine beer make wide distribution without having to hear the brewer complain about people outside California enjoying his beer (I got to give some props to New Belgium for their input on this one too).

Recommendation: An excellent for the price point. Fans of malty IPA and hoppy barleywines -- especially those with a penchant for Southern Tier's Unearthly IPA -- should seek this one out fresh. This is not a beer for the faint hearted, however, and I can almost guarantee you tha casual beer drinkers and hop-haters will despise this brew.

Pairings: Thai food...maybe peanut saute?

Cost: $5.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

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