Epic Brewing Barrel Aged IPA

A barrel-aged IPA, this one from New Zealand’s Epic Brewing. I’m usually skeptical of barreled IPAs, as it often seems that the barrel character mutes exactly what most people drink IPAs for – hop flavor! I’ll give it a try though…..can’t bash it if ya don’t try it, right?

500ml bottle, 7.25% al-kee-haul by volume. Aged in new oak barrels for 8 weeks.

Standard IPA appearance here – short but well-formed foam that shows good stickiness, with excellent clarity, obviously filtered. I wish more breweries did unfiltered IPAs, but I’m not going to get too picky. Nose is quite nice, with aromas of grapefruit, lemon, grape, and grass. Could this be….Nelson Sauvin hops again? Wouldn’t surprise me. I smell a bit of the Sauvignon Blanc-ish aroma that hop variety typically confers, but maybe that’s just the power of suggestion coming into play. A quick Google search yields no info, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. In any event, suffice it to say that it smells rather pleasant.

There’s a bright citrus flavor on the palate, a lot of orange with the impression of sweetness. Some aggressive pine-menthol bitterness quickly dries that out mid-palate; also, here is where you find the oak, a bit of a flinty, tannic-bitter flavor. This is one of those beers that at first doesn’t taste that bitter to me, but it does build. I could stand some food to go with this….I think a simple rare tuna steak, or other oily fish, with lemon would go fine with this. Not a conventional-wisdom pairing for an IPA, but I’m sticking with my instinct.

Probably one of the better barrel-aged IPAs I’ve tried, dubious honor though this may be.

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