There are so many craft beers on the market now that a name and/or an image can make or break the beer, for better or worse. And brewers are definitely a creative lot.
On a recent vacation to Alabama for some beach time, I happened across a beer by Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing that had such a fun name and such appropriate packaging, that I couldn’t not pick up a sixer. That beer was called Slap Fight IPA. Yes, put it all together, and you’ve got a beer called Monday Night Slap Fight. I chuckled out loud as soon as I saw it.
The question then was whether the name was simply a hook for a so-so beer. Luckily, what poured from those teal cans was up to the challenge.
I noted that the aroma on this beer was malt-forward, almost to the extreme, and even a bit pungent – very California, at least up front. But the dry brew also packed an unexpected up-front bitterness on the palate. The light floral notes in the nose played out about how I expected it to in the beer, with hints of tropical fruitiness and a bit of spiciness. Interestingly, the assertive bitterness leveled off after a few drinks and hit a nice balance.
While the beer is medium-bodied and pretty approachable, it also left a bit of a coating on my palate. I think they key is there is nothing sneaky going on with this beer – no odd hop and malt combinations or off flavors, just a straight-ahead, classic American-style IPA, featuring Comet, Equinox, and Mosaic hops.
Is it anything special? Not really. It did get me where I wanted to go, with good flavor and a nice, punchy 5.8 percent ABV that shows up when you drink it. I had two and started to feel hints of the effects, which is pretty rare for a veteran like me. But, hey, I’ll take it. The next time I head down south, I’m going to look this one up yet again.
In fact, I’m sort of afraid not to go back for more. In the brewery’s description of the beer, I found this: “Present this beer to a friend. If he does not drink it immediately, slap him as hard as you can. Repeat.”
Slap Fight IPA is available all year long, so do your worst. And bring ibuprofen.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.